Fish Radio
Pollock makes good halibut bait
March 20, 2015

This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – Pollock as halibut bait gets mixed reviews. More after this —

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Pollock has been tested as a halibut bait to replace pricier chum salmon. Each year halibut researchers use over 300-thousand pounds of chums in their stock surveys, costing nearly half a million dollars. The baits are used at more than 1,200 testing stations from Oregon to the Bering Sea. A study three years ago showed some promising signs for pollock.

We looked at several different baits. Our standard chum salmon, pink salmon, pollock and herring in the pilot study. And pollock showed a very strong indication of both better catch rates and lower bycatch rates, so we were very excited about that.

 Bruce Leaman is director of the International Pacific Halibut Commission. A few years ago the bait project was expanded coast wide. That led to mixed results.

One confirmed what we saw in the Gulf in that pollock was very effective bait there relative to chum salmon and we got good catch rates. But when we moved into the Bering Sea we got completely opposite results, where the salmon bait performed better than the pollock.

He says the salmon may have been curiosity –

In the Bering Sea, pollock is a very significant component of halibut diet and we were speculating that it may be a sort of novelty idea of seeing salmon down there as bait that the fish may have been responding to.

But when all the raw data were statistically compiled and corrected, Leaman says the bait results were too inconsistent – .

So the raw data showed pollock had much better catch rates, lower amounts of sub legal fish and lower amounts of bycatch, but when we did corrections to the data we found that those results were not so consistent. 10

Still, the pollock bait did perform well.

Pollock still caught fewer smaller fish but it essentially came up with almost the catch rates for chum salmon as we had when we did this. Now that’s not necessarily a bad result – it’s just that it’s as grossly superior bait compared to what we had been using.

Leaman agrees that pollock can be a good halibut bait in the Gulf.

It’s a good idea. It’s far less expensive. In fact some are using pollock right now.

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 Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods – who salutes and says thanks to the men and women fishing across Alaska for their hard work and dedication. ( In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.