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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.
Table of Contents
- 1 How To Catch Halibut
- 2 Halibut Fishing Tackle
- 3 How To Catch Halibut From Shore
- 4 How To Catch Halibut In Alaska
- 5 How To Catch Halibut In The Surf
- 6 How To Catch halibut In The Bay
- 7 How To Catch Halibut In California
- 8 How To Catch Halibut In San Diego
- 9 Best Halibut Fishing Bait
- 10 Best Halibut Fishing Lures
- 11 Halibut Fishing Tips
- 12 The Bottom Line
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.
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.
How To Catch Halibut In Alaska
When fishing for halibut in Alaska, most anglers will use a chum bag. Why? Because halibut uses scent, sight, and sound to find food. In shallow waters close to the coast, halibut will use sight and sound to find food. But in deeper waters, they rely on their sense of smell.
Anglers will anchor the boat at a spot they believe halibut are hanging around. A fish finder or sonar device is used to find these spots. The chum bag can have fish heads, gills, and leftovers after cleaning.
Halibut likes herring and anglers use it as bait when fishing for halibut. The fillets release more scent into the water which attracts more halibut than steaks. Salmon is another fish that can be used as bait when fishing for halibut. A combination of herring and salmon is a winning combination when fishing for halibut in Alaska.
When fishing for halibut, anchoring and remaining in one spot is very important. You must be patient when fishing for halibut as it takes some time to attract halibut with the scent of the bait and chumming takes time for the odor to permeate the waters.
After the chum has soaked in the water for a period of time, drop your bait into the water and release it slowly so that it doesn’t fall quickly to the bottom. Move the bait up and down a little to release more of the scent to attract halibut.
When fishing for halibut from a pier, look for structures like jetties, rocks, logs, and broken-down structures that halibut may use as cover when waiting in an ambush for prey. Live bait is the best when fishing for halibut but other bait will work as well.
Cast your bait so it sinks to the bottom and then slowly bring it back up. Halibut will play with your bait for a while. They will bite it, hold it in their mouths, and get a good feel for it before deciding to go for it. This is why you want to use circle hooks. Be patient and trust the process. Wait until the halibut takes the bait and dash off. When it runs off, the hook will set by itself.
How To Catch Halibut In The Surf
When fishing for halibut in the surf, look around structures like jetties, riptides, eddies, harbors, estuaries, troughs, and holes. kelp beds, river mouths, and reefs. Another area to look for halibut is where sand meets rocks. There will be fish in there and halibut will be preying on them. Open beaches with a rocky point close to them will also be a good area to fish for halibut.
Cast your bait or lures into these areas when fishing for halibut in the surf. Herring, salmon, jerkbaits, spoons, and soft plastics are some of the baits and lures that can be used when fishing for halibut in the surf.
How To Catch halibut In The Bay
When fishing for halibut in the bay, look for halibut around reefs, rocks, mud, sand, and at the bottom. It will be at the bottom waiting to prey on herring. Trolling and drift fishing are fishing methods that are used when fishing for halibut in the bay.
Live bait works well when fishing for halibut in the bay area; however, lures can also be used to good effect. Smelt, mudsuckers, and shiner perch are baits that are often used when fishing for halibut.
How To Catch Halibut In California
When fishing for halibut in California, look for them near harbors, around jetties, estuaries, river mouths, and inside bays. Additionally, they can also be found near holes, kelp beds, and reefs. Cast your bait or lure close to these structures to catch halibut. Another area you can find halibut is the area where rocks meet sand. Halibut wait in these areas to ambush bait.
How To Catch Halibut In San Diego
Halibut can be found on the sandy bottoms waiting in an ambush for prey. They can also be found near jetties, riptides, eddies, harbors, estuaries, troughs, holes, kelp beds, river mouths, and reefs. Live bait is the best bait when fishing for halibut in San Diego, although lures can also be used.
Bottom fishing, trolling, and drift fishing are some of the fishing methods used to catch halibut. A halibut rig will serve you well. When you feel a bite, slowly reel in the catch until you get it into the boat. Be prepared for a fight.
Best Halibut Fishing Bait
Herring is one of the best baits for halibut as it is irresistible for halibut.
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.
Squid is a good bait for halibut.
Octopus is a great bait for halibut and anglers use it whenever they have it. It is also effective as bait for other fish.
Anglers also use cod as bait for halibut as it likes cod.
Crab is also a good bait for halibut and other fish.
Anchovies are good bait that anglers use to catch halibut.
Mackerel, especially small mackerel, is a good bait for halibut.
Sardines, like anchovies, and shrimps, are used as bait for halibut.
Inshore lizardfish is used as bait for halibut.
Best Halibut Fishing Lures
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.
Spoons are a good search lure when fishing for halibut.
Soft plastics are an effective lure for halibut.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.