By: Gary Blasi
Halibut fishing has been good and bad this year so far. When the weather cooperates fishing has been good. However, when it’s breezy like it’s been most of the spring and early summer bites have been tougher to come by. May was productive. On the other hand, June is generally a windy month and it’s been a chore so far. We’re about to see what July has in store.
As soon as the weather lays down fishing should pick up. It’s important to consider what the wind does to us. When we get a wind, generally, it brings upwelling, which creates nutrient rich brown water, which is great for salmon, but not for halibut. With the brown water the halibut can’t see the bait. When it’s dark brown water like it’s been on and off this season it’s probably pitch black on the bottom. They can only smell or hear the bait.
Therefore, when the watercolor clears it normally makes for good fishing. Honestly, we never know when good water is going to arrive. One day we’ll have clear, blue water. The next day it will be brown. Just know when the water is clear fishing is way better.
We catch them anywhere from eight to 90 pounds. It depends on the day. Usually, if we put six on the boat some will be in the teens, others in the 20s, some in the 40s and in the 60s. Based on long liner surveys the average halibut on the California’s coast is 33.4 pounds.
I head out of Eureka daily and can go north or south. We have spots to Trinidad on down to Shelter Cove. That’s roughly 100 miles of water. They are pretty much everywhere. The goal is find 250-350 feet of water, which is kind of a broad area, but that’s where the fish are. We look for bait on the bottom on our meters and then drop down into the zone.
It’s important to come with quality gear. I fish all Shimano 7-foot rods and Diawa Saltist two-speed reels with 65-pound Power Pro braided line. I use Redwood Coast Spreader Bar’s Godfather rig with a 12/0 Big River Gamatasku hook. We put a whole herring on one hook and a salmon belly on another. All our baits are marinated overnight in Natural Fire Brine and Pautzke Halibut Nectar.
To learn how I brine my bait check out this blog I wrote a few weeks ago: https://www.pautzke.com/learn-to-make-halibut-bait-like-a-pro
Bait has been tough to come by this year. I caught my own herring, but for those trying to buy it the price has gone up. For four baits it’s $8. Big herring are expensive, but that’s what the fish are going after. They like those and salmon bellies and you can’t buy salmon bellies. On some days we go through 100 baits, which is way more than we went through last season.
Editor’s Note: Halibut fishing on California Coast is open from May through August, but only from 1st to the 15th of each month, until the quota is met, which will likely be in August. This current opening is from now through July 15. Gary Blasi operates Full Throttle Sport Fishing. For information on his Eureka halibut trips please visit https://www.facebook.com/fullthrottlesportfishing or http://fullthrottlesportfishing.com/.