Disclosure: We may earn commissions if you purchase products after clicking on a link from our site.

Do you want to learn how to catch halibut? Halibuts are a favorite for anglers as it is a trophy fish because of their size and weight. It can be challenging to catch halibut because of its size, elusiveness, and being a bottom feeder. You can find halibut on the Pacific coast from Alaska to California. In this article, we share information and discuss how to catch halibut to help improve your chances of catching many halibuts.

How To Catch Halibut
How To Catch Halibut

How To Catch Halibut

Halibut fishing is not one of the most difficult fishing you will experience. Drop your line, with the bait on the hook, into the water and let it get to the bottom. After hitting the bottom, reel it up about 15 to 20 feet off the bottom. By bringing your line off the bottom a little bit, you are targeting the fish that are more active and perhaps hungry and looking for food.

When the fishing rod starts moving up and down, resist the urge to set the hook right away. Instead, wait until the tip is bent over and the fish has swallowed the bait. If you don’t wait for the halibut to take the bait in and you jerk up on the line, you will pull the bait and the hook out of its mouth. Then lift up the rod to set the hook in place. If you lift up the fishing rod too soon, it is possible that the hook could be pulled away from the fish’s mouth.

Halibut Fishing Tackle

You can use a 7 to the 8-foot medium heavy fishing rod with fast action that is rated for a 15- to 25-pound line. A 20 to 30-pound mono or 50 to the 65-pound braided line will work. A Carolina rig or sinker-slider setup should work. Circle hooks 16/0 to 22/0 are the best for halibut.

Tricks For Halibut Fishing
Tricks For Halibut Fishing

How To Catch Halibut From Shore

When you fish for halibut from the shore, look along the shore for structures like holes, troughs, kelp beds, deep pockets, and reefs. There is a saying among anglers, “find the structure, find the fish”. When you find these structures along the shore, watch to see which direction the current is heading as the halibut will be at the entry of these structures waiting for bait to be pushed in the direction of the currents.

When you locate the entry points of the structures from north to south, cast your bait accordingly to find the halibut. When you get a fish on your line, keep the line tight and do a slow and steady retrieve through the structures as you pay close attention to the edges of the structures.

Tips For Fishing Halibut
Tips For Fishing Halibut

Best Halibut Fishing Bait

1. Herring

Herring is one of the best baits for halibut as it is irresistible for halibut.

2. Salmon

Salmon is a good bait for halibut as their strong odor attracts Halibut from far away. Halibut likes the bellies of salmon which anglers often use to bait halibut.

3. Squid

Squid is a good bait for halibut.

4. Octopus

Octopus is a great bait for halibut and anglers use it whenever they have it. It is also effective as bait for other fish.

5. Cod

Anglers also use cod as bait for halibut as it likes cod.

6. Crab

Crab is also a good bait for halibut and other fish.

7. Anchovies

Anchovies are good bait that anglers use to catch halibut.

8. Mackerel

Mackerel, especially small mackerel, is a good bait for halibut.

9. Sardines

Sardines, like anchovies, and shrimps, are used as bait for halibut.

10. Lizardfish

Inshore lizardfish is used as bait for halibut.

Tips For Halibut Fishing
Tips For Halibut Fishing

Best Halibut Fishing Lures

1. Swimbaits

Swimbaits is one of the effective lures for halibut in calm waters.

2. Berkley Gulp

Berkley Gulp is one of the most popular lures used by anglers to catch halibut.

3. Spoons

Spoons are a good search lure when fishing for halibut.

4. Plastics

Soft plastics are an effective lure for halibut.

Ideas For Halibut Fishing
Ideas For Halibut Fishing

Halibut Fishing Tips

1. Keep your hooks sharp.

2. Be patient when fishing for halibut. Halibut strikes take time. Allow some time for the halibut to eat some of the bait before you attempt to set the hook.

Ideas For Fishing Halibut
Ideas For Fishing Halibut

3. Halibut uses scent, sight, and sound to find food.

4. Use chumming to attract halibut in your direction.

5. Herring is one of the most popular baits for halibut.

Halibut Fishing
Halibut Fishing

6. A herring fillet will produce more scents in the water than a whole herring or steaks and will produce more aggressive bites.

7. Salmon is also a good bait for halibut.

8. Use circle hooks when fishing for halibut.

Halibut Fishing Tricks
Halibut Fishing Tricks

9. Multiple jigs can cause tangles if the area you are fishing has a current. Just run a single jig.

10. Use whole salmon heads as bait if you want to get big halibuts.

11. Although halibut are bottom feeders, go after the ones that have moved off the bottom to feed. They will be more active and receptive as they are hunting for food.

Halibut Fishing Tips
Halibut Fishing Tips

12. Use polarized sunglasses to help you avoid the sun’s glare and see what is in the water.

13. Go with a strong and lightweight fishing line.

14. Lower your line to the bottom and then reel up about 15 to 20 feet off the floor.

Halibut Fishing Ideas
Halibut Fishing Ideas

15. Don’t start pulling to set the hook once you see little action on the rod. Instead, wait until the tip is bent over and the fish has swallowed the bait. Then lift up the fishing rod to set the hook in.

16. If after casting a good number of times you get no action, consider moving to another area.

17. When a halibut is hooked on the line, gradually pull the line up with control. Wind and lower the rod and then pull again. Carefully and methodically pull and bring the halibut up close to the water’s surface.

Halibut Fishing For Beginners
Halibut Fishing For Beginners

18. When you have a spooked halibut on your line, don’t try to fight it or pull it closer. Instead, let it run free for some time to calm down. You don’t want to lose the hook or break the line. After a short time, slowly try to bring it up again.

19. Allow the halibut to get weakened a bit by keeping its head underwater for some time before bringing it onboard. Halibut can cause serious injury to individuals who are not very careful.

20. Find out the direction of the current. Most halibut will approach from downstream going upstream.

Fishing Halibut
Fishing Halibut

21. You can fish for halibut near structures like wrecks, jetties, sea walls, reefs, kelp beds, and breakwaters.

22. Always keep your baits or lures moving when fishing for halibut.

Fishing Halibut Tips
Fishing Halibut Tips

What is the best bait for halibut?
Herring, salmon parts, squid, octopus, crabs, and anchovies are some of the best bait for halibut.
How deep do you fish for halibut?
Halibut are bottom feeders and you can fish for it at depths from 90 to 900 feet, although it is recorded that they are also found at depths up to 3,600 feet.
What time of day is best to catch halibut?
The best time of the day to catch halibut is 2 hours before and 2 hours after the high and low tides. You will get the best bites during this period between the high and low tides.
What size hooks for halibut?
Circle hooks 16/0 to 22/0 are the best for halibut.
What is the best month for halibut fishing?
May to September is the best period to go halibut fishing.

The Bottom Line

Halibuts grow to be very large and are bottom feeders. They can be challenging to catch due to their size, temperament, and bottom-feeding behavior. In this article, we discussed the behaviors of halibuts and shared tips, and techniques to catch halibut. We hope that you will find the information helpful and improve your chances of catching more halibut.

If you are interested in catching corbina, jack crevalle, and cobia, then read how to catch California corbina, how to catch jack crevalle, and how to catch cobia.