What are GAF (Guided Angler Fish) Permits?

Highliner Lodge and Emerald Island guests have the option to keep extra halibut regardless of size and area restrictions. How does this work? We buy commercial fishing quota and have it converted to GAF Permits. We carry these on each boat and for BOTH regulatory areas that we fish within (Area 2C and Area 3A). Most lodges don't offer this option and if they do, may even require you to purchase it ahead of time. With us, you only pay an additional charge IF you choose to keep a halibut that regulations otherwise would require you to release.

Think of the GAF program as an insurance policy in which we have already paid the premium. If a guest finds themselves in a situation where they have a halibut pulling on the end of their fishing rod that regulations require them to release:

EXAMPLE 1: In the 2C area, the halibut in question is not within the reverse slot limit, or because they have already kept the one halibut allowed in that area for that day…

EXAMPLE 2: In area 3A, the guest has already kept their one halibut of any size and now can only keep a second halibut that is under 32 inches.

They (you) now have a choice… to either let that fish go, or keep that fish as a GAF. You must decide if it is worth paying the fee that we charge to recoup our investment in the GAF. Keeping with the insurance policy analogy, you might consider this fee the “deductible”. Whether, or not, you choose to keep the fish will depend on many factors: the cost, the size of the fish, what you have already caught, how many pounds of fish you want to bring home and perhaps… whether this fish is the biggest halibut you have ever caught, or likely to catch in your entire life!

The choice is yours to make with the Emerald Island Mothership Experience. At 99% of the other Alaskan lodges you will not have that choice, because the lodge owner did not choose to make an investment in GAF. We spent over $300,000 on that investment.

The cost to buy a GAF will be about $500 in Area 2C and $200 in Area 3A. This may sound like a lot to spend… and we will not pressure you into purchasing a GAF. However, in many cases the halibut fillets at retail price are worth 2 to 10 times the cost of the GAF!

I know, It’s complicated.

You know that the Highliner Lodge and the Emerald Island have the biggest halibut and the best catch rate in all of Alaska. You know that we can fish in either area 2C (like Sitka) or 3A (like Homer). Please remember, the GAF is an insurance policy that we have already paid for and you do not have to decide whether, or not, you want to keep a GAF until the halibut is at the surface of the water and you see how big it is… most lodges don’t offer a GAF option… you will have no choice at other lodges… you must let the fish go!


Without GAF permits available, ALL of these 100+ pound halibut (caught on the same boat, within minutes of each other) would have been released. Imagine reeling in the biggest fish of your life and then having to watch it swim away because you went to a lodge that didn't invest in GAF!

$200-500 seems like a lot to spend on a fish though, right? Well, with a 50% recovery and an average market price of $20/lb (which is conservative for both halibut and king salmon), I count $7,000-8,000 worth of fillets in this picture... well worth the cost of the 4 GAF fish!