Pacific halibut are the largest flatfish in Family Pleuronectidae. Halibut and other flatfish are flattened laterally, and swim sideways, with one side facing down and the other facing up. The upper side is typically gray to brown, or nearly black, with mottling and numerous spots to blend in with a sandy or muddy bottom. The underside is typically white. Virtually all halibut are right-eyed, meaning both eyes are found on the upper, dark side of the body. Left-eyed halibut are rare; one report suggested a ratio of about 1 in 20,000. In these fish, the eyes and dark pigment are on the left side of the body, and the fish swims with the right (white) side facing down. The dorsal fin is continuous from near the eyes to the base of the tail, and the anal fin extends from just behind the anus to the same point on the other side. The mouth extends to the middle of the lower eye or beyond, and is nearly symmetrical. The scales are quite small and buried in the skin, making the skin appear smooth. The tail is broad, symmetrical, and lacks a distinct fork. The lateral line is strongly arched over the pectoral fin. The maximum reported size is over 8 feet in length and over 500 pounds.
Pacific halibut are a highly sought for food. The flesh is white with a mild flavor, and is high in protein, minerals, vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids. Halibut are taken in subsistence, commercial, and recreational fisheries.
Length to over 8 feet, weight to over 500 lb
55 years (males and females)
California to the Bering Sea, west to the Sea of Japan
Both eyes on the right (upper side), with rare exceptions
Large halibut are “barn doors,” small halibut are “chickens.”
A note from Captain Steve on Halibut…
We fish for halibut year round except for the month of January, when they spawn. The halibut we catch average 15 to 100 pounds with several weighing over 200 sometimes, even over 300 pounds! Our two largest are 375 and 376 pounds!.
We have several techniques to fish for them with the most common technique, which is to anchor for them on the change of the tide when the current is slow. This attracts them to you using cut herring, cod, cod heads, salmon, salmon heads, octopus and lures. We fish on the bottom with light rods, braid fishing line and wait for the giant pull down!. It’s pretty exciting when you’re pulling on a huge fish and the Captain gets the harpoon and gun (kind of like the TV Show Wiked Tuna) out and shoots your fish before it comes into the boat.
Another technique is to drift with long limber rods and thin braid fishing line and lots of different lures. It's exciting because you actually fight the fish without the current, these fish tend to be smaller on average, but we do get some large ones also and the light tacklefight is on!
Season: Febuary through December