Halibut stories?

Ken Jones

Staff member
Date: February 25, 2001
To: PFIC Message Board
From: tremor

Subject: Halibut Stories

One time I was fishing Ventura Pier and I had caught a small perch and about a 40” Halibut chased it to the top and I thought I had caught it. But all I got was the perch. Do you guys and gals have any Halibut stories??

Posted by Leapin Bass

Topwater Halibut. I have lots but a 27” I got last year near Stearns Wharf is my favorite. I was in about 7 feet of water using a shallow diving minnow plug (Excalibur Long A). After one of the retrieves I paused to rest for a minute. The lure was just floating right under my rod tip for about 5 seconds when the surface explodes drenching me with water and almost yanking the rod out of my hands as there was only about a foot of line out.

You can't catch tomorrow what you kill today — please practice catch and release.

[Leapin Bass is Pete Wolf who makes Big Hammer lures.]

Posted by Mola Joe

Back when I worked in the bait store on Hermosa Pier, I rented a rod to a guy from Texas who had never fished saltwater before. These rent-a-rods looked like they went thru World War two, but they worked all right for herring, tomcod, and mackerel, etc. He says he wants to catch a halibut, but I talk him into a high low rig and a bag of fresh dead anchovies so at least he has some action. He grabs the rod and tells me he’s going to catch a halibut, and off he goes. About a half hour later people start calling for the net, and when I get there with it, here’s this guy holding the rent-a-rod bent to the butt with a big flattie on the other end. It seems he didn’t listen to me about putting cut pieces on, instead putting a whole dead anchovy on each hook. I remember it weighed over 20 pounds, and was one of the biggest that month. Sure made a lot of the hardcore local halibut fishermen mad.

Posted by Snookie

As a preteen I was fishing the Newport Pier barge, Georgia, when the man next to me hooked a fish and the line just went slack. All of a sudden his fish, a 50-pound halibut, leaped out of the water about 6 feet, just like a mako would do, landed, and literally flew straight back past the stern. It stayed on the surface and somehow he got that fish back to be gaffed. He was using a number 4 hook. Snookie

Posted by avidangler

One day I was drifting an anchovy with a buddy of mine off this beach that has big numbers of hallies to 20 pounds. We started at the drop-off in 15 feet of water and drifted in to shore. When we had drifted for a while I noticed we were pretty shallow, about 3 feet of water. I said to my partner “Pull 'em up.” Just as I started to reel in my line this fat halibut exploded out of nowhere and slammed my bait. I was shell-shocked. The fish made three runs and I missed him with the gaff and broke him off at the boat.

That fish stands out in my mind’s eye. Plus I royally screwed up and farmed a nice flattie. -avidangler

Posted by fishsniffer

Weirdest catch: A few guys were fishing shark with dead anchovies when one hooked an 11-inch smelt. He figured it might make good shark bait, so he tied on a big rock cod hook, made a very small cut in the fish’s side so he would bleed, and then tossed him out on a sliding rig with 6-oz weight. Ten minutes later the smelt stopped fighting, and there was a scraping look on his rod tip. He figured it was a crab, so he started reeling in. After a twenty minute fight there was a 38 lb. hallie. He walked it to the shore where is friend grabbed it by the tail and pulled it onto shore.

Biggest Halibut: I was fishing on the Bass Tub at the Berkeley flats and having no luck when I saw a guy on another boat fighting a fish. I made some remark to my buddy about him having some luck at least. 5 minutes later, he was still fighting it. 5 minutes after that the fish was still hanging. I told my friend it was probably a humongous bat ray, and even Captain Eric agreed. After twenty minutes of fighting this fish, and after drifting quite a good distance, we heard yelling coming from the other boat. The net came up and three gaffs went down, and up came a 48-lb halibut, the biggest the San Francisco fleet had caught that year (evidently it wouldn't fit in the net). You think that guy won the pot? he he he-sniffer

Posted by Red Fish

When I first started catching halibut on Berkeley Pier, I had my own method and I don't remember missing too many fish. Ironically, when the pier pros noticed me as an up and coming angler, some of them took me under their wing and showed me a few things. I learned a few new angles and tactics, but efficiently started to lose more fish than before. After listening to those guys for a couple of seasons, I developed my own style, which is different from theirs but gets me as many if not more fish than them! Also, I don't even fish the section of the pier that they fish halibut anymore. I am curious if people will flock to where I fish this season. If they do fine, if not, that’s O.K. too. Things I have seen I think are pretty normal. i.e., halibut spitting the hook because their head is raised out of the water by an angler. 30 to 40# halibut lost while trying to net it. Halibut jump straight up in the air out of the net while bringing it up. Halibut not hooked, but rather holding on to live bait and cutting out at the surface of the water. Halibut that has swallowed the bait on two lines and has both in his mouth-you know, the usual stuff....

Posted by Salty Nick

I have yet to land a Halibut. But this happened early on, when I first started fishing at Fort Baker pier. I was using a live smallish jacksmelt, when I caught something. It seemed small, I couldn’t tell what the heck it was, it moved from side to side. As it got nearer to the surface, it fought a little more, and with my inexperience, I pulled it up faster than I should have. It finally showed face, and it was a big halibut, definitely a keeper. I called my brother-in-law to get the crab net. As he was getting it, the fish flipped his head, along with my hook — then slowly sank into the water, along with my hopes. I haven’t hooked into one since then. One of these days... Salty.

Posted by CK

Stuck my finger in a small halibut’s mouth once...won’t ever do that again.

Posted by fisherkid

The first time I caught a flattie I thought that I had snagged a big piece of wood or something of that sort. It was about month after I started fishing. I went down to Crystal Pier and was using an 8pound limit freshwater rod. I dropped down a high/low rig with anchovies on each hook, I was letting the bait sink trying to catch a mackerel when I thought my bait hit the bottom. Then it felt as if it were moving with the current. I started to pull it up but it was a lot heavier than when I had dropped it down. I thought it was wood or seaweed until it got to the surface. All of a sudden, it started thrashing about, then it took off. I fought it for about ten minutes, not wanting to break my rod or line. When I finally realized what it was I started yelling to my mom who was on the beach. Some guy let me borrow his net when it was on the surface and I pulled it up with the net. I couldn’t believe it. I had just caught a 15-lb halibut with 8-lb test.