Skip to primary navigation Skip to content Skip to footer
Back to Dana Wharf Blog

Top Tips for Halibut Fishing

a man holding a fish

Halibut fishing is a popular sport in California, and for good reason. These flatfish can grow to be over 8 feet long and weigh up to 500 pounds, making for an exciting and challenging catch. If you’re planning a halibut fishing trip in California, here are some top tips to help you have a successful and enjoyable experience.

Understanding Halibut Behavior

Before heading out on your fishing trip, it’s important to understand the behavior of halibut. These fish are bottom-dwellers, meaning they spend most of their time on the ocean floor. They are also ambush predators, meaning they wait for their prey to come to them rather than actively seeking it out.

Halibut are most active during the day, with peak feeding times being early morning and late afternoon. They are also known to be more active during tidal changes, so keep an eye on the tides when planning your fishing trip.

Choosing the Right Bait

When it comes to halibut bait, live bait is the most effective. This includes anchovies, sardines, and squid. These baits are more likely to attract halibut due to their natural movement in the water.

If you’re using artificial lures, opt for ones that mimic the movement of live bait. Soft plastic lures, such as swimbaits or grubs, can be effective in catching halibut.

It’s also important to consider the size of your bait. Halibut have large mouths and can easily swallow larger baits, so don’t be afraid to use bigger bait to attract bigger fish.

a group of people standing next to a person holding a fish

Location, Location, Location

When it comes to halibut fishing in California, location is key. These fish are found in both shallow and deep waters, but they tend to prefer sandy or muddy bottoms. Look for areas with a mix of sand and mud, as this is where halibut are most likely to be hiding.

Some popular spots for halibut fishing in California include the waters off of Dana Point, San Diego, and Santa Barbara. If you’re not familiar with the area, consider booking a fishing charter with a knowledgeable captain who can take you to the best spots for halibut.

Tackle and Gear

When it comes to tackle and gear for halibut fishing, it’s important to have the right equipment. Halibut are strong and can put up a good fight, so you’ll want to make sure your gear can handle it.

A medium-heavy to heavy rod with a strong backbone is recommended for halibut fishing. A reel with a high gear ratio is also helpful for quickly reeling in a halibut.

It’s also important to have a strong leader and a sturdy hook. Halibut have sharp teeth and can easily break a weak line or hook. A 50-80 pound test line and a 6/0 to 9/0 hook are recommended for halibut fishing.

Techniques for Catching Halibut

There are a few different techniques that can be effective for catching halibut. One popular method is drift fishing, where you let your bait drift along the bottom of the ocean floor. This allows your bait to cover a larger area and increases your chances of attracting a halibut.

Another technique is to use a fish finder rig, which involves attaching a weight to your line and then attaching your bait to a leader above the weight. This allows your bait to stay near the bottom while still being able to move freely.

It’s also important to be patient when fishing for halibut. As ambush predators, they may take some time to strike at your bait. Be prepared to wait for a bite and be ready to quickly reel in your catch once you feel a tug on your line.

Dana Wharf Sportfishing

One of the best places to go halibut fishing in California is at Dana Wharf Sportfishing in Dana Point. This popular fishing charter offers half-day and full-day trips specifically for halibut fishing.

Their experienced captains know the best spots for catching halibut and can provide all the necessary equipment and bait for your trip. They also offer a fish cleaning service, so you can take your catch home with you.

Dana Wharf Sportfishing also offers a variety of other fishing trips, including deep sea fishing, whale watching, and more. So if you’re looking for a fun and exciting day out on the water, be sure to check out Dana Wharf Sportfishing.

a man holding a fish in the water


California Halibut Regulations

Before heading out on your halibut fishing trip, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the regulations set by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. These regulations include size and bag limits, as well as specific areas where halibut fishing is allowed.

In California, the minimum size limit for halibut is 22 inches, and the bag limit is 3 fish per person per day. It’s also important to note that there are specific seasons for halibut fishing in certain areas, so be sure to check the regulations for the specific location you plan to fish in.

Halibut fishing in California can be an exciting and rewarding experience. By understanding halibut behavior, choosing the right bait, and using the right techniques, you can increase your chances of catching these impressive fish. And with the help of a knowledgeable fishing charter like Dana Wharf Sportfishing, you can have a successful and enjoyable halibut fishing trip. So grab your gear and get ready for an unforgettable day out on the water!