109-pound halibut caught through the ice in the name of science

Anglers with a special arrangement to go ice fishing Sunday on the Saguenay Fjord in Quebec caught a 109-pound Atlantic halibut that took them four hours to land.

Remi and Mathieu Aubin needed help from two other fishermen as the hole needed widening to land the behemoth fish, the first of the season caught under the Atlantic Halibut Winter Fishing Project for Scientific Purposes.

The fishermen were allowed to ice fish in the fjord under the program whereby the fishermen agree to submit their catches to scientists for recording biological data from the fish, as previously reported by For The Win Outdoors.

Recreational fishing for the species is otherwise prohibited, as Atlantic halibut are protected as an endangered species under the International Union for Conservation of Nature, according to OutdoorLife.

The fishery in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region of Quebec is “where a large freshwater river, the Riviére Saguenay, meets the St. Lawrence River as it forms a narrow, deep inlet in the Gulf of St. Lawrence,” OutdoorLife stated. “This creates a unique fishery where the fresh water from the river flows over the salty water of the gulf and freezes solid. (Seawater freezes at a lower temperature than freshwater, and it has to be colder for longer since bays are typically deeper than lakes.)”

Twenty-four hours after the catch, Mathieu Aubin wrote on Facebook that he was “still speechless.”

He wrote that he was donating the meat portion of the catch to 16 people in need.

More from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Canada:

The winter Atlantic halibut project for scientific purposes in the Saguenay Fjord, which began in the winters 2022 and 2023, will continue in 2024.

This project, initiated by the Comité de bassin de la baie des Ha! Ha! (CBBH), aims to acquire additional scientific knowledge on this species and its presence in the Saguenay Fjord.

DFO will issue a scientific fishing licence to the Comité de bassin de la baie des Ha! Ha!, which will be responsible for coordinating scientific fishing activities, including identifying participants who will be permitted to participate in scientific fishing activities under this licence.

The total allowable catch for all participants named in the license remains 100 specimens for the season. In addition, the minimum size of halibut that may be retained will be 85 cm and over. Participants will be required to return any Atlantic halibut less than 85 cm in length immediately to the water from which it was taken and in a manner that causes the least harm to the halibut if it is still alive.

Obviously, the program is still young, so data is lacking.

“Studies suggest that the populations of some groundfish species in the Saguenay Fjord are ‘sink populations,’ which means that they are isolated from those of the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence,” the DFO stated. “In the case of Atlantic halibut, this issue has been little studied and DFO lacks data to test this hypothesis. Therefore, the data collected during the project will help advance knowledge on the species.”

And the Aubin’s catch will help in that regard.

Photos courtesy of the Aubins.

Story originally appeared on For The Win