Best bait for halibut?

Ken Jones

Staff member
Date: August 5, 1999
To: Pier Fishing In California Message Board
From: Steven Jareb

Subject: Best bait for halibut

I’m wondering what type of bait I should use to catch halibut? Also, I’m wondering what type of fish you can catch off a pier using squid. I’m fishing in Orange County off of Huntington Beach Pier.

Posted by Snookie

Dear Steven, There are a lot of baits for halibut from the pier. First and foremost of course are the live baits such as the queenfish, anchovies, sardines, smelts and the grunions, perch, and small mackerels. These are the best, but dead bait such as anchovies either whole or cut in half are good too. Sand crabs are good too if you are fishing close to shore. Also mussel sometimes gets a big one. If you have a fresh mackerel, use the belly and make long strips for bait. This is good and tuff plus it works well if trolled. Just remember that the halibut is a scavenger, so just present the bait right and she will take it if she is ready to eat.

Squid is good for mackerel, halibut, some of the croakers, shovelnose guitarfish. Use it either whole or in pieces or strips. It is a firm bait, and stays on the hook well.
Good luck. Snookie

Posted by Mike C

Snookie, Are you sure halibut is a scavenger fish? I know it is a bottom dweller but that doesn't make it a scavenger. I may be wrong and will graciously stand corrected if wrong. Mike C

Posted by Snookie

Dear Mike, Yes, I am sure that the halibut is a scavenger. Experience of knowing what they eat and what they eat, and also having read a lot about them tells you this. They will eat almost anything presented well even if it isn't on their normal diet. Fortunately for us the halibut tends to eat mostly the good live baits available around her which gives her a better taste. Snookie

Posted by KJ — 2/22/2021

As Snookie says, halibut will take almost any bait imaginable and will hit on on almost any rigging (everything from high/lows to Carolina rigs to Sabikis and more). BUT, most are taken on live bait. They are typically ambush prdators waiting on the bottom for some fish to swim by and when they see it they shoot up and grab the bait. So, lively small bait such as those mentioned by Snookie take most of the fish — or artificial lures that simulate live fish.