California Halibut have become very popular in the Eureka and Arcata Bay in Humboldt, CA. Northwind has this fishery available to the people on our sport fishing charters who get sea sick, and for the days we can’t cross our bar due to weather or sea conditions.
When we fish for California Halibut
The bar is the entrance out to the open ocean, and on some days we just cant get out. Sand builds up at the entrance and propagates large breaking swells. On these days, Northwind Charters likes to fish for California Halibut – especially when live bait is available.
How we fish for California Halibut
There are a couple of different ways to fish for them. When live bait is scarce you can troll or bounce ball for them. You do this by using a three way swivel and a small dodger with a dropper of about 8 to 10 inches with a 3 to 5 ounce lead ball, and a dead anchovy. Your troll speed should be slow but fast enough to make the dodger work correctly.
As the summer heats up the bait in the bay grows larger and can be caught with sabiki rigs, or a cast net. Sometimes it is fun for the crew to catch their bait it often turns into a friendly competition of who can catch the most on a single drop as the rigs have 6 to 8 hooks.
Although, if the bait is net-able it can make for quick work and longer time on the fishing grounds. I like to use my salmon mooching rods for this fishery the Lamaglass x-11’s I spoke of in the salmon portion on this website. I use a three way swivel with a dropper of about 8 inches, and a fluorocarbon leader with a hook that is proportional to the bait size. The smaller the bait the smaller the line size and hook, anywhere from 12# to 20# line.
On the back rods I like to use a 1 oz weight and on the front I like 1.5 to 2 oz.. These fish bite best when the tide is moving, I bump in and out of gear to keep the lines straight going with the tide. We stretch the line out the back so that you can see the weight dragging the ground, so your rod tips should be bouncing when you look at them.
These fish can bite really weird, sometimes they will bit at the bait for some time and it takes everything you have to not grab the rod to early. These fish eat the bait from the tail to the head, so you have to leave the rod in the rod holder until it is fully bent over. I should mention that these fish have nasty teeth and they will bite you if you put your fingers in their mouth! In addition, the weight sizes vary depending on how deep you are fishing!
Now some like to drift and that gets them too. But, power drifting covers more ground and therefore is probably more effective in our bay situation. No matter how you fish them, being in the bay where it is usually sunny and flat is what many people like. If you plan on fishing these halibut make sure you get a flat bottom fine mesh net, because when you put undersized halibut in your salmon net it splits their tail and they get rot on the tail and can kill them. We want to take care of all our fisheries so that we have plenty of fish to fish for, for years to come with our kids and so on!
Captain Matt Dallam