Tips for catching and landing halibut

Halibut are one of my favorite summer time pursuits as they are a challenge to catch and make incredible table fare. Where I live in Northern California halibut are a seasonal fishery, but in the Southern California they are present all year.


Lots has been written on targeting these fish, so I will instead offer tips that I have helped improve my success beyond the basic techniques for targeting them.
• Halibut are ambush predators with keen eyesight. As a result jigs bites are often a reaction bite. If you don’t get hit soon, reel in and re-drop.
• Halibut have relatively small mouth, and the tissue is soft. I have much better success when I convert jigs to single point siwash hooks.
• In any given body of water, only a small fraction will hold halibut. When you find a spot that produces hit the waypoint! It will likely produce again and again.
• Although halibut generally lie in wait in their favorite spot, they will follow schools of bait. If your normal waypoints aren’t producing find a bait ball and work it.
• Halibut do not fight at all until they see the boat (or in this case the kayak). Use the window after the initial hookup to clear the deck and get ready to land the fish.
• Although halibut are generally lack luster fighters, that all changes the second you try and land them. In fact the go NUTS. For this reason I generally do not use a net. A short fish that may need to be released can do a lot of damage prior to being untangled, measured and released. If I think a fish needs to be measured, I simply release it. For fish I am going to retain I use a gaff.
• Once landed secure your catch on a robust stringer. Without fail, it WILL come back to life for one last thrashing at some point.

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