Pro Staff Question - What Type Of Structure Should I Look For When Fishing For Halibut
Paul Smith's Answer
Darol, first make sure you purchase a nautical chart of the area.
Then look for plateaus or other contours that come up from 240 feet to 80 feet or so.
You also want to see various depths around the plateau itself similar to steps or banks.
You can get the coordinates manually by using a parallel ruler and placing it on a horizontal line close to the plateau structure and walking down or up to your structure.
Take a pencil and draw a line along the parallel ruler making sure to press down on the ruler to ensure no movement.
Do the same for the vertical line.
Then place a yard stick (or other straight edge) horizontally and then vertically on the cross lines penciled in the previous steps and note the spot where they intersect the lat/long cordinates on the edge of the chart.
Write down the lat/long for your gps.
You can also do the same thing with dividers.
Here is a video that explains how to do this.
If you don't have a gps than you can follow this video to learn how to plot the course to your chosen spot.
This is where you'll find halibut.
The smaller ones will be on the plateau itself, while the larger ones will be around the outside perimeter of the plateau.
You should also find some nice Lingcod.
Make sure you know what the tide and wind is doing so you can drift off of the plateau not onto it.
Depending on the size of your boat, you can also head out to the continental shelf (300+ feet) and catch some nice halibut.
Of course you'll have sore arms by the time you get them to the boat, but it's a lot of fun nevertheless.
Never Go Halibut Fishing In The Open Ocean Alone
It's best to go halibut fishing with another boat in case you run into problems.
I will assume that you have a gps,radio, compass etc. on your boat and you are experienced with them.
Here is a great short course pdf from Gary Kessler that will explain all about charting and plotting in nautical waters.
Most sounders will show the bottom as flat, but it's tough to make out the depressions that occur.
This is where your charting knowledge comes in handy.
I've caught a lot of large halibut in these depressions using jigs and/or herring/octopus.
If jigs don't work use spreader bars or try trolling the bottom with herring bouncing your cannon ball on bottom.
Once you find the honey hole, make sure to mark it on your gps or in your notebook.
I'm not sure if you can legally use a firearm on your boat still in the US, but if not take along a harpoon with a plastic float/barrel attached.
I've had halibut take my 5 gal plastic barrel under for twenty minutes before it surfaced and I was able to find it.
Hope this helps and good luck!
Keep those rod tips up and tight lines!