The pacific halibut is one of the largest game fish caught in the north pacific. Halibut start their lives in the depths of the continental shelf off the pacific coast of North America. Born as larvae they slowly move to shallower waters of the shelf after drifting with the currents for the first six months of their lives. At this stage an amazing transformation occurs, the left eye moves to the right side of the head, skin pigment is lost from the left side of the body and the halibut settles onto the gravely bottom of the ocean. With its mottled gray-brown skin as camouflage and both eyes facing up, the halibut is perfectly suited to life as a predator of the ocean floor. With a diet of shrimp, squid, octopus and other fish the halibut quickly grows to maturity. Female halibut mature at approximately 12 years and males at 8.
Each summer, masses of halibut migrate from the deeps of the continental shelf to Vancouver Island's reefs and rock piles which are rich in baitfish. It's during the summer months that anglers have a chance to enjoy the thrill of catching these brutish game fish. The average size of a mature halibut is 30-40 LB.., but many halibut over 100 LB.. are landed every year. The largest sport caught pacific halibut is 459 LB.. so needless to say it is important to be well prepared while fishing for these monsters. The Port Renfrew record is a whopping 240 LB! In British Columbia, the highest concentration of these migrating halibut are found at the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca at the Swiftsure Bank. Because halibut congregate near underwater rock piles, drop-offs, and pinnacles, fishermen generally spend time moving around and sounding the depths to pinpoint good fishing grounds. Once the fish are located it can be non stop action until the catch limits are achieved a short while later. Because halibut live and feed on the ocean floor fishermen normally use heavy weights and 80-100 LB test fishing line to get their gear to the bottom. A variety of lures or bait are effective for catching halibut, including hearing, salmon, squid, grubs, spoons, hoochies, and several types of halibut jigs. Halibut are also sensitive to smell so anglers often use scents to attract them.
Halibut is one of the finest fish caught in all the seas, it has a mild flavor which most people find very appealing. The meat is white and flaky and can be prepared in a variety of ways, Battered for fish and chips, flaked in a stirfry or sautéed with your favorite spices.
Season: Late Spring to Early Fall
Peak Season: April - September
Size: 20-60lbs, can grow to over 250lbs.