Halibut are one of the most sought-after game fish species in the world by anglers who love to target some of the most unique types of fish they can find.
They can grow to massive sizes, up to more than 400 pounds in some cases. Their gigantic size and flat power-driven body shape makes them one of the toughest fighting fish species in the world.
Commonly found in cold water areas throughout the northern Atlantic and Pacific oceans, halibut features one side of their body that’s solid white and the other, dark brown.
This color combination helps them to blend in with the ocean floor for potential prey that might be swimming overhead while the fish are also protected from potential predators that lurk below them as their white coloration blends in with the light toward the ocean’s surface.
Halibut are one of the most common fish for anglers to catch around the seas surrounding Norway and other countries in northern Europe, but they are also very prevalent in the seas surrounding Alaska.
Jigging is one of the most common ways for anglers to catch halibut throughout the year as it is a technique that closely mimics that bait fish that halibut commonly chase after deep in the ocean.
In this article, we’ll cover the basics of jigging for halibut, as well as the best places and times for anglers to catch halibut using various jigs.
Where to Catch Halibut
Halibut prefer to stay in or around large piles of rocks deep in the ocean where they can utilize their natural coloration and sense to detect prey and avoid larger predators.
Most halibut can be found at depths of about 200 to 300 feet below the surface and they are typically known to stay close to some type of underwater structure.
Some of the most experienced halibut fishing guides in the world know that these fish like to stay in areas where there are steep rocky ledges or large rock piles below the ocean’s surface.
Many halibut will stay at a depth of around 200 to 300 feet, but the larger-sized variations have been caught by anglers fishing at deeper levels.
Obviously, halibut fishing is best done from a boat as they are commonly found at deeper levels than other kinds of trophy game fish, but locating the best spots and knowing just how to fish them comes down to being a true art form for most anglers.
Given their size and the depths at which you will be fishing you will need a heavy duty vertical jigging rod and large conventional reel.
Some of the most experienced captains and halibut fishing guides agree that anyone with a basic knowledge of how to read marine depth charts and sonar imaging will have no problem finding ideal spots for catching halibut.
Like any other place where jigging is a top choice for catching the fish you’re after, jigging for halibut around these rocky ledges and piles of underwater boulders presents an excellent opportunity for catching giant halibut.
However, it can be tough to figure out just how to work your jig in a way that will entice halibut to strike.
When to Fish for Halibut
Without a doubt, halibut are known to be cold water fish that reside far into the northern reaches of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. They can be caught at virtually any time of the year, but most experienced halibut anglers will agree that the best season out of the year to catch halibut is the spring.
There are many reasons why this is the case, but if you’re planning on going on your first halibut fishing trip, or simply looking to up your chances at catching these elusive giants, try planning your trip during the warmer months of the spring when they will be more likely to feed.
From around the middle of May to the end of September is generally considered the best time to catch halibut wherever they can be found.
The warmer temperatures seem to kick up their appetite and the smaller bait fish that halibut so often pursue can usually be found in greater abundance during these warm-weather months.
During these warmer months, jigging is a great way for anglers to attract the attention of halibut as they might otherwise pass by a stationary lure or bait.
There are many different ways anglers utilize jigging for halibut in a successful way and it might take some practice to truly hone your skills down to a fine science and catch halibut using this method.
How to Jig for Halibut
Jigging for any type of fish can be a tedious process as it requires you to have a full knowledge of where the fish might be, as well as the types of bait fish species and certain techniques that will attract a bite.
Jigging for halibut starts with knowing how to position your boat in such a way that you’ll drift over the rocky ledges and piles of boulders in such a way that will keep your jig in the ‘strike zone’ for as long as possible.
Most anglers understand that halibut typically reside at or very near the bottom of the particular area they’re fishing in.
This means that you’ll want to keep your jig somewhat close to the bottom at all times instead of working it higher upward in the water column as you would when fishing for other species that will hunt for their prey in many different depths.
Best Techniques to Catch Halibut
Knowing that halibut fishing is a deep subject, anglers must rely on techniques that help their jig remain down in the depths of the specific area they’re fishing at.
Halibut are not known to be very fast swimming fish, so jigging for halibut isn’t necessarily something that will require rapid, quick vertical movements in the same way that an angler might use a jig to catch something like a mackerel.
Most anglers know that jigging for halibut is best done by twitching your jig in such a way that might resemble a swimming bait fish or other creature that appeals to the halibut’s appetite. There are subtle differences in just how much action you’ll want to give the specific lure you’re using to catch halibut, but it will usually take a bit of practice and possibly some coaching to get the technique down just right.
Best Jigs for Halibut
There are a variety of different jig styles to use for halibut fishing. Many anglers choose to go with a simple swimbait-style jig while others might opt for the classic metal jig that features a single treble hook on its flank.
Many experienced anglers prefer to use a large jig with a single hook attached to it that allows them to rig their jig with some type of natural bait that will help appeal to the halibut’s sense of smell over anything else.
Halibut will eat everything from squid to salmon heads, as well as cut-bait herring and many more types of naturally-occurring baits.
Regardless of the specific type of lure you choose to go with, be sure to pay close attention to how experts recommend you use the lure in order to give yourself the best chance to catch halibut using the jigging technique.
Beginner or novice anglers who are largely unfamiliar with halibut fishing might benefit from a guided trip with an experienced halibut fishing charter as this will be an excellent opportunity for one-on-one learning and understanding just what you need to know when it comes to jigging for halibut.