Halibut season is here – tips on catching halibut

Tom Keer

You are wondering, “When is halibut in season?” May to September is the main halibut season. This means that this is one of the best times to pursue these flatfish, which vary between small and huge. While the average size of this species of fish is between 15 and 20 pounds, many are caught in excess of 150 pounds. Bring sturdy poles with you when you go, you might hook an animal; The largest Pacific halibut was caught in Alaska and weighed 459 pounds. Since it looks like every angler on the Pacific coast is out on the water dropping halibut bait on the bottom, here are six quick tips on how to catch halibut and get it on the boat.

1. Check your government regulations

On one hand, the tough part of California’s halibut season is getting your fish properly identified. The jaw of a legal California halibut extends beyond the fish’s eye, while in a Pacific halibut it extends to the leading edge of the eye. Alaska halibut fishing, on the other hand, means that anglers can fish with just one line with no more than two hooks. Study all regulations to ensure compliance.

2. Know your high season

The best times to fish are during the high season, but these times vary. Spring-summer is a good time for fishing in California, while Alaska is when the halibut seasons are best during summer and fall. Research your area to determine when and where to fish.

3. How to catch halibut

Flatfish hug the bottom, and the halibut can choose anywhere from 40 to 80 feet deep. Alaska halibut fishing may require depths of up to 120 feet, while California halibut hangs around piers in shallower water. Use depth and fish finders to explore your terrain and find out where they’re hanging.

4. Lower jump

Make sure your bait or jigs are down. Loosen the line from the spool as far as it will go. Then raise and lower your pole tip to bounce the bait or template right off the sand. With so much line-out you will need a different hook set. If you feel a jerk, slowly rewind in slack until you feel tension. Pull firmly at this point to drive the hook in.

5. Best halibut bait

Squid, squid, and mackerel heads are some of the best. Vertical jigging with smaller baits that mimic sardines or other smaller bait fish also works well.

6. Reposition yourself until you find the fish

Throw around the boat and if not plugged in, move around and start again.

The halibut season is here and the fish is an excellent table. Dont miss it. Learn about California halibut as well as Pacific halibut and if you want to share, I’m here!

Tom Keer

Tom Keer is an award-winning writer living on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. He is a columnist for the Upland Almanac, a contributing writer for Covey Rise magazine, a contributing editor for Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America, and a blogger for the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s Take Me Fishing program. Keer is a regular contributor to over a dozen outdoor magazines on topics including fishing, hunting, boating, and other outdoor activities. When not fishing, Keer and his family hunt highland birds over their three English setters. His first book, A New England Coast Fly Fishing Guide, was published in January 2011. Visit him at www.tomkeer.com or www.thekeergroup.com.