• Primarily shallow water fishing applies: shore fishing, trolling, or drift fishing. The basic idea is to get your lure/bait down on the sandy bottom and keep it moving.
  • Halibut feed most actively during moving current, especially incoming tide. Best fishing is 2-3 hours before high tide.
  • Halibut move in schools, so if one is hooked, most likely there are more in the same spot.
  • For shore fishing: Constantly cast and retrieve slowly (to keep your lure/bait moving).

For trolling: Work the surf line in 20 foot water or less. When trolling with a deep diving lure, attach it to a good snap swivel and slowly troll it out about 50 feet behind your boat.

For drift fishing: This means fishing from a drifting boat over productive terrain (e.g. reefs and drop offs).

Tackle & Equipment

For surf fishing: Any freshwater or light saltwater tackle and line is good. Try using a 10-12 foot surf spinning rod with a two-handed grip. Saltwater spinning reels are most popular, wound with 200-250 yards of 15-20 lb monofilament line.

For pier fishing: Use a heavy freshwater or light-medium 6-8 foot saltwater rod. The spinning or conventional reel should hold about 100-200 yards of 10-25 lb line.

For trolling: Use a medium boat rod with roller tip (about 6 feet) and a saltwater trolling or casting reel that holds 300 yards of 25 lb monofilament line.

For drift fishing: Use a 6-7 foot boat rod with a sensitive tip (to detect bites) and a conventional saltwater reel holding 200-300 yards of 25 lb monofilament line.

Other Equipment (General): You should bring along a large landing net or gaff, and a fish billy (recommended for dealing a sharp blow midway down the fish’s body to knock it out).

Bait & Rigging

Common bait and lure for halibut include:

  • Live anchovies and small perch (hooked through the lips for drift fishing or trolling)
  • Hair raisers
  • Pet spoons
  • Rebel minnow-type plug (6-7 inches)
  • Bagley Bango-B deep diving plug (6-9 inches)
  • Scampi-type twin tail soft plastics (about 5 inches)







Best Bets

Along the Pacific Coast:

  • Bodega Bay (the entrance along the rocky breakwater)
  • Tomales Bay (near the entrance at Lawson’s Landing just south of Dillon’s Beach)
  • Marin coast (Stinson, Muir and Tennessee beaches)
  • Golden Gate (just outside the bridge between the Cliff House and Seal Rock)
  • Half Moon Bay at Pillar Point Harbor
  • Monterey Bay

In San Francisco Bay:

  • Crissy Field (Drift fishing parallel to the shore in about 10-20 foot water in June, July and August)
  • Alcatraz Island (Try drift fishing with anchovies on the west side of the island in the 20-45 foot water from July through September. On incoming tides, drift toward the island.)
  • Treasure Island (Try drift fishing with anchovies on the northern and western flats of the island in the 20-45 foot water from July through September.)
  • Angel Island (Best areas include the Point Knox Shoal on the southwest side of the island at 20-50 feet, and Racoon Strait between the island and Tiburon).