Halibut

Halibuts are the largest bony flatfish in the world and inhabit much of the cold waters of the northern hemisphere.
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Where and When?

Halibut are all cold water, northern hemisphere fish, mostly associated with deeper, offshore, water. As the names imply, each species is geographically restricted with no overlap between the Atlantic and Pacific species while the Greenland and Atlantic species can occur together. The Atlantic halibut is found from the eastern shores of the USA northwards past Greenland and down the European coast as far as Portugal and also north around Norway towards Russia. Greenland halibut are distributed from Greenland westwards past Newfoundland. Pacific halibut are most common, and most regularly caught, off the Alaskan and Russian shores but catches extend down the USA shore as far as Washington, Oregon and northern California. Most recreational fishing takes place along the shores of Alaska Alaska, while the halibut could also be caught from ports and fishing bases situated along the Norwegian and Canadian shores, north eastern and north western seaboard of the USA.Halibut, as species of the colder waters, are generally able to be caught throughout the year and there are no known large scale movements or migrations. In some areas, however, there are more and less rewarding times to fish for halibut.

About Halibut

“Halibut” are a complex of three, generally similar looking, species of flatfish. The Atlantic halibut, Hippoglossus hippoglossus, is reportedly the largest flatfish, attaining 320 kilograms at a length of about 2.62 meters and age of 50 years, while the Pacific species, Hippoglossus stenolepis, is not far behind in terms of size and mass. The Greenland halibut, Reinhardtius hippoglossoides, is smaller, reaching about 45 kilograms and a maximum length of about 1.2 metres. All three species spawn in deep water in winter. Large females may lay an astonishing amount of eggs, with as much as 4 000 000 reported for the Pacific species. Larval halibut look like “normal” fish and gravitate to the surface waters to feed and grow. During this the “left” eye moves to the “right” side of the head of the fish and the fish then descends to deeper water for the rest of its life cycle. The Atlantic and Pacific halibuts are almost white on the “left”, underside of the fish while the other side is considerably darker. The Greenland halibut underside is usually darker than that of the other species and it apparently often swims “vertically” in the water column more commonly than the others. All halibut eat mostly fish but also feed on crustaceans and other invertebrates.

How to Catch?

Nearly all halibut fishing, both commercial and sport, is boat-based, from small recreational skiffs operating close inshore to much larger offshore commercial “long liners”.. It’s a rare occasion to catch a halibut, to say nothing of a large halibut, inshore, and specialized deep sea fishing techniques and tackle are necessary. When you might hook a personal record, massive halibut, taking chances by using inferior equipment does not sound like a good idea. The captains of charter boats specializing in halibut fishing would have the proper rigs for you. Most halibut are hooked near the sea bottom, often in deep waters, and artificial jigs and natural baits are the commonest terminal tackles. Local knowledge is very important to improve chances of locating, hooking and landing a large halibut.