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Late Summer: The Best Time For Halibut?

By: Dan Bacher

Techniques Index

One of the myths of halibut fishing is that the best time is in the spring or early summer. However, this is not always the case, as is the case this season when the best halibut action of the year is taking place, believe it or not, in August.

"Halibut are providing the top action taking place out of Berkeley this week," said Bob Nakaji at the Berkeley Marina Sportfishing Center. Just check out these scores:

  • Six anglers on the New Goldeneye bagged 18 halibut to 24 pounds at Seal Rock on August 15.
  • Nineteen anglers on the New Goldeneye hammered 55 halibut to 36 pounds, 2 salmon to 18 pounds, 1 striped bass weighing 12 pounds and 1 lingcod going 6 pounds On August 16,
  • Twenty-five anglers aboard the Happy Hooker caught 35 halibut, 2 salmon, one white seabass along the Marin County coastline On August 15.

The best action has taken outside of the Golden Gate at Seal Rocks and the Marin coast, but boats are also bagging the flatties in San Francisco Bay.

For maximum success, the following suggestions apply:

  1. Fish halibut during periods of slow tidal movement when the waters of the bay and just outside the Golden Gate are relatively clear. This is when halibut are most apt to bite live anchovies, sardines, shiner perch and other offerings.
  2. Go on a party boat if you've never been fishing for these fish before, even if you have your own boat. You will see the areas and tides that the veteran skippers fish, as well as the rigs that are most productive.
  3. As a general rule, hold your rod when the weather is calm so you can feel the bite and set the hook accordingly. However, it's just as well to leave the rod in your holder when you fish on a windy day, since the fish will often grab the bait very aggressively when the boat is drifting quickly in the wind.
  4. Wait to set the hook until the halibut has a firm grasp of the bait. Too many anglers set the hook too fast; it's better to let the rod "load up" as the halibut swims away with the bait firmly in its mouth.
  5. If you own a private boat, fish the tides, not the times of day. Often the best time to fish in the afternoons. A couple of afternoon hours on a good tide can produce much better fishing than a whole morning of zilch fishing on fast, unproductive tides!

Techniques Index


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