wikiHow to Catch Halibut

Halibut can be caught in the Pacific Ocean from Alaska to California. The large size and weight of halibut makes them a good trophy fish. If you are new to fishing, here are steps to catch halibut.


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    Choose bait that especially attracts halibut, such as live squid or octopus, or mackerel heads or guts. Artificial bait such as plastic fish colored like a sardine or anchovy can also be used in halibut fishing.
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    Use a light fishing line to prevent you from tiring too quickly when you reel the halibut in. A California halibut can weigh around 50 lb. (23 kg), while a Pacific Halibut can be over 500 lb. (230 kg).
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    Fish with several other people so more bait is in the water to draw fish. If going halibut fishing alone or with a few people, create your own chum slick to draw fish to your boat.
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    Drop bait close to the bottom of the water, where halibut typically are. Raise and lower the bait a few feet (meters) or move it from side to side in the water to help attract the fish to your line.
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    Wait for a halibut to bite and take the bait and allow your fishing line to lower back into the water until it goes tight.
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    Set your hook and begin to steadily pull the line up with control. Wind and lower your fishing rod and then pull again, bringing the halibut up close to the water's surface.
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    Keep at least the halibut's head underwater. Use a gaff or harpoon to wound the fish. Wait for the fish to grow tired and lose some blood.
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    Bring the wounded halibut alongside the boat, tie it up and cut its gill rakers. Bleeding the fish will help kill it and provide cleaner meat later. Put the dead halibut on ice if possible.


  • Aim for a solid area behind the halibut's head when using a harpoon to wound it and drive the harpoon all the way through.
  • If buying your own boat for halibut fishing, choose one with a secondary engine and enough power to handle large bodies of potentially rough water.


  • Do not yank on your rod or immediately start to reel in your fishing line when you get a bite. The tension from these strenuous actions can cause you to lose the halibut by breaking the hook or pulling it free.
  • Keep your distance and use caution when bringing a halibut into the boat. It could still fight you after being gaffed or harpooned. A thrashing halibut can cause great harm and injury.
  • Shooting a halibut with a gun to bring it into a boat may not be allowed in your area. Firing at a halibut's head could also destroy its cheeks, the best part to eat the meat.
  • Don't keep the skin on your halibut for storage; it ruins the taste.

Things You'll Need

  • Fishing boat
  • Fishing line
  • Fishing pole and hook
  • Bait for halibut
  • Chum
  • Gaff or harpoon
  • Ice

Article Info

Categories: Fishing