Halibut are the prized fish of the North Pacific Ocean. Halibut get huge, fight hard and are great eating fish! Fishing for halibut can be difficult or easy depending on location, time of year and currents. What makes fishing for halibut difficult is that they are usually very deep and like to bite in strong currents. This means that a lot of weight is needed.
Drift fishing or anchoring with chum are the two main methods used to fish for halibut. Anchoring is the preferred method because a good scent trail can bring the halibut to the boat. I would suggest drift fishing in a new area until a few halibut are caught and a pattern can be established where the fish are located. Halibut are typically found in flat areas around what people in Alaska call rock piles but what I would typically refer to as a hump or underground mountain.
The current around rock piles can cause eddies that trap bait. The halibut stay near the bottom often behind some bottom structure in this area and try to ambush prey. Halibut tend to sit on one side of the rock pile, typically the up current side of a rock pile. If you find a good spot where halibut are biting it will probably only be good in that specific spot when the tide is flowing in the same direction.
When drifting using heavy jigs or dragging baits such as herring, pollock, cod heads, salmon bellies or octopus just of the bottom are the typical methods used. When anchoring it is good to keep lots of bait down and use a chum bag on the bottom to keep a scent line going. Having someone jigging also helps keep action in the water which helps attract fish. Listed below are the top five lure and baits for halibut. Large non-pelagic rockfish are often found in the same area as halibut and these baits work good for them as well.
Hoochie Rig with Bait
A Hoochie skirts can be added to the hook to act as an additional attractant. A 4 3/4 inch is the size generally used.
A two pound lead weight works to keep the rig on the bottom in most currents.
A size 4/0 Siwash open eye hooks is good for small halibut. A size 6/0 hook works good for medium size halibut. The open eye allows the hook to be put on a barrel swivel with a pair of pliers.
Beads are used to space the hoochie on the hook.
Cork screw swivels size 2# work to attach the weight to the front of the rig.
Halibut Nectar can be added to the hoochie and other baits for added scent.
Halibut Spreader Bar by Gibbs, used to catch big halibut.
One or two pound cannon ball sinker for the spreader bar weight.
Circle hook for spreader bar rig, size 10/0 for small halibut and size 12/0 for big halibut.
LED deep drop lights for halibut spreader bar rig. Lights lifespan is over 350 hours.
Heavy 500 pound leader line with crimps. Halibut are not leader shy and this rig will work for big halibut.
Glow thimbles to work with the leader crimps.
Crimp tool crimper, works for multiple size crimps and has a side cutter.
Swim Jigs with Teaser
Swim Jigs are great baits for halibut fishing especially when drifting. Large jigs usually catch large fish so adding a teaser allows for the smaller halibut to be caught. A teaser is added by tying a hook on the leaser about two feet above the jig. This is done by tying a dropper loop into the leader line.
Shown above is a fluke that was caught on the teaser hook above the jig. For halibut cut bait like herring or pollock would be placed on a bare hook. If you do not have bait white gulp works good as well.
A 10 ounce jig head is used for the body of the jig. A 10 ounce to 16 ounce jig is typically needed due to strong currents in the area being fished.
A 8 inch curly tail jig works good as the tail, white or glow are great colors.
A 4/0 J hook is used as the teaser hook above the jig. The hook is placed through the dropper loop on the leader and pulled tight. Typically 80 pound leader line is used.
Hook with Bait
Halibut are not always deep and often follow bait into any depth water. The best bait is typically the small fish that are located in the area that is currently being fished. If you catch a bait fish or small fish in the area cut it up and send it back down as bait. If it is small enough live baits works as well. For baits be thinking herring, cod, pollock and flounder. Strips of cod and pollock stay on the hook very well as do strips of salmon bellies.
Mustad halibut leader works great for small halibut.
Heavy jigs work great for halibut. A teaser as described above can also be used with these jigs. Tipping the jigs with bait such as a strip of salmon belly or strip of cod belly is helpful because it adds scent. A piece of herring can also be used but would be more likely to come off the hook.
Gibbs Delta 8 ounce jig with a white or glow tail works great in slow to medium currents.
Mega bite 9 ounce 14 inch swim tail jigs works great in slow to medium currents.
Thanks for visiting Global Fishing Reports. I hope these suggestions help you catch more halibut!
If you have any suggestions for top halibut lures and baits, leave a comment below!