Pacific Halibut is a sought after fish because of its size and mild flavor. We have a good Pacific Halibut fishery out front and down at Cape Mendocino and we have leaned on this fishery pretty heavily in the past when we were in a drought and salmon were poor! There are many different ways to fish for pacific halibut. I am going to talk about the way Northwind Charters likes to do it and what works the best for me.
First of all a stout rod is needed to handle a big fish and up to a three pound ball. I have been using ugly sticks with a line rating 50 to 80 pounds with a 4/0 Peen reel outfitted with 65# Power Pro. The rigs I use are called God Father rigs. It is basically a double dropper rig that is made out of 150# mono with 2 16/0 circle hooks. I also have some of the rigs with large river hooks for a faster drift.
These rigs have a water activated strobe lights and rattles. This rig activates most of the senses of the halibut while you activate the last sense which is smell. Bait for Pacific Halibuts consists of salmon bellies, tuna bellies, squid, and large Herring. These halibut will eat crabs, sand dabs, hake, sable fish and just about anything that is in front of them. Some people use spreader bars, and I still have some, but I find that the vertical God Father rigs work the best because they usually don’t get tangled like the spreader bars do when fishing 6 rods at 300+ feet, and instead of having one piece of bait you can run two.
We are usually 5 to 7 miles off shore when we fish for these creatures, the ocean condition have to be fairly good to be effective. A perfect drift of .8kts is ideal, and enough weight to have your line straight up and down. Once in a while we will use a large swim bait and thump the bottom which can be effective. If you have access to structure such as a reef, canyon or a wreck these would be great places to start, but halibut also move up on the flats during the summer and I have personally caught them in 80ft. of water! If the weather is too rough or you get seasick, we can also fish for California Halibut as well.