Best Bait For Halibut: Plus Top Tips and Places to Fish

Did you know that Pacific halibut are the largest flatfish in the world? Pacific halibut can weigh up to 500 pounds and measure over 8 feet long and an amazing 5 feet wide! Halibut are a popular sport fish and can be found in coastal waters all over the world.

In this article, we will discuss the best bait for catching halibut, as well as some tips and techniques for fishing for them. We’ll also take a look at some of the best places to fish for halibut in California and around the San Francisco Bay Area.

Best Bait For Halibut Fishing

When it comes to fishing for halibut, there are a few things to keep in mind. First of all, halibut are bottom-dwellers so you’ll need to use heavy tackle and sinkers to reach them.

It’s also important to use bait that is large enough to attract their attention but not so large that they can’t eat it. And finally, be patient! Halibut are not known for being the easiest fish to catch, so it might take a little while to get one on your line.

Halibut fishing can get quite messy, especially when dealing with cut bait but the following live and cut baits are the best you can use when you are fishing for Halibut.


Cut Herring Bait

Herring can be used as a live or cut bait.

Using Live Herring

If you are using live bait you will want to use a fairly large herring because halibut are not small fish so larger bait is the best way to cut it up. You will want to hook the herring securely through the nose or the mouth to ensure other types of fish don’t steal your bait before you get it in front of the halibut.

Using Cut Herring

To cut herring into bait you will want to clean the fish first. Then cut the herring into large triangular or cube pieces. Next, you will want to brine the herring with a salt brine using salt rock and water is an easy way to brine your herring. Make sure to use your bait within a few days of the brining process.

Once the herring is brined you can use the bait right on the hook or use it in a chum bag.

Salmon Heads

Salmon Heads

Salmon heads can make excellent fishing bait, provided you know how to use them effectively. The key is to ensure that the heads are properly prepared. First, you’ll need to remove the guts, as these can quickly spoil in the water. Next, cut off the head just behind the gills. This will help to keep the bait on the hook longer.

Finally, it’s important to keep the heads cool until you’re ready to use them. Salmon heads can be used to catch all sorts of fish, but they’re particularly effective for targeting trout. If you’re fishing in an area where there are salmon spawning, then using their heads as bait can be an especially effective strategy. So, if you’re looking for a new way to increase your catches, give salmon heads a try.

Shiner Perch

One of the best baits for halibut fishing is shiner perch. They are easy to find and catch, and they stay on the hook well.

Shiners are also a favorite food of halibut, so using them as bait increases your chances of getting a bite. When rigging a shiner for halibut fishing, it’s important to use a heavy rig so that the fish can’t swim away with your bait.

You also need to ensure the hook is sharp so that the fish doesn’t just tear through the bait without getting hooked.

Once your rig is set up, you can start fishing for halibut. The best time to catch them is early in the morning or late in the evening when they are feeding near the bottom of the ocean. Using shiner perch as bait will help you catch more halibut, and have more fun while doing it.


Octopus on red hook

Octopus can make excellent bait for halibut fishing, for a few reasons. One is that halibut are generally not intimidated by the size of an octopus-like they might be by a larger fish. Another reason is that octopuses are very active creatures, constantly moving and changing colors.

This activity can attract the attention of halibut, drawing them in for a closer look. Additionally, octopuses are good swimmers and can easily outmaneuver most other types of bait fish. When using an octopus as bait, it’s important to hook it through the head to keep the body intact.

This will help to keep the octopus as active as possible, improving your chances of attracting a halibut.

If you are using a larger octopus, then you will want to use it as cut bait. The legs of the octopus are the best part to use for cut bait.

Salmon Bellies

Salmon bellies are a great bait you can use when fishing for big fish like halibut. Halibut are attracted to the strong smell of salmon, and the flesh is soft enough that it easier for them to eat.

Salmon bellies tend to stay on the hook better than other types of bait, meaning you’ll get more bites and have a better chance of landing a halibut.

When using salmon bellies as bait, cutting them into small strips is important. With a little patience and some good bait, you will surely have a successful day of fishing for halibut.

The only problem using Salmon Bellies or any kind of cut bait is that you will attract other fish like sharks that you may not want to land.


Cutting up squid bait

Any fisherman worth their salt knows that the key to a good catch is using the right bait. While there are many different options out there, one of the most popular choices for halibut is squid. Squid is an oily fish that is high in protein and fat, making it irresistible to halibut.

In addition, the tentacles of squid can create a false sense of movement in the water if you are using the whole squid as bait, attracting halibut from a distance. For best results, squid should be cut into small pieces and fished on a heavier line. One problem with using squid as bait is that it’s softer than other baits and can be taken off your hook easily by other fish that might find it desirable With a little effort, you’re sure to land a big one using squid as bait.

What is a Chum Bag?

Angler using chum bag for fishing

A chum bag, also known as a fish attractant or a bait bag, is a sack filled with bait that is used to lure fish. Chum bags are often made of burlap or other materials that can decompose quickly in water. The bait inside the chum bag may be fish parts, such as guts or blood, or it may be a mixture of commercial attractants and food scraps.

When the chum bag is placed in the water, the bait will attract fish to the area, making them easier to catch. Chum bags are a popular fishing tool among both recreational and commercial fishermen.

Best Bait Rigs for Halibut

The following are a couple of the best bait rigs to use when fishing for halibut:

Carolina Rig

Carolina Rig
Carolina Rig

A Carolina rig is a type of fishing rig where the bait is attached to a leader line and the mainline is threaded through a bead and then the hook. The weight is then slid down the leader until it rests on the bead. This type of rig is often used when fishing for bottom-dwelling fish such as catfish or flounder.

The Carolina rig is named after the state where it was first used, which is South Carolina. Carolina rigs can be used in both fresh and salt water, and they are often used in tournaments because they are so versatile. When using a Carolina rig, anglers will often use live bait such as minnows or worms.

The bait is attached to the hook using a small piece of wire called a snell. The weight of the Carolina rig can vary, but it is typically between one and four ounces. The size of the weight will depend on the depth of the water and the strength of the current. So in deeper water, you will want a heavier weight to the rig.

Sabiki Rig

Ahi USA SB-203V Rainbow Skin Sabiki Rig- Size 6 Hooks- 10 Pack

A Sabiki rig is a type of fishing lure that consists of a main fishing line with a series of small hooks attached to it. The rig is designed to mimic a school of baitfish and is typically used to catch larger fish such as tuna, mackerel, and of course halibut. Sabiki rigs can be purchased at most tackle shops, and come in a variety of sizes and colors. While they are most commonly used in offshore fishing, they can also be effective in the more shallow water like inshore fishing for species such as snapper and grouper.

Best Artificial Bait for Halibut

While live bait is always a good option, there are times when artificial bait is a better choice. But keep in mind there is no best lure out there. If you are fishing in an area where live bait is not readily available, or if you are simply looking to try something different, artificial bait can be a great option. There are many different types of artificial baits on the market, but the following are a few of the best choices for halibut:


Jigs are one of the most popular types of lures among both recreational and commercial fishermen. Jigs can be made from a variety of materials, including plastic, metal, and wood. They can also be purchased in a variety of sizes and colors. When fishing with jigs, anglers will often use live bait such as minnows or worms.

Jigs are typically cast and then allowed to sink to the bottom of the water. Once on the bottom, the angler will often use a jerking motion to attract fish. Jigs can be effective in both fresh and salt water and are often used in tournaments because they are so versatile.

Circle Hooks

Mustad UltraPoint Demon Wide Gap Perfect in-Line Circle 1 Extra Fine Wire Hook | For Catfish, carp, bluegill to Tuna | Saltwater or Freshwater Fishing Hooks | Gear and Equipment, [Size 5/0, Pack of 25], Black Nickel

Circle hooks are a type of fishing hook that is designed to catch fish by the jaw instead of the gut. This type of hook is becoming increasingly popular among recreational fishermen, as it helps to reduce the mortality rate of fish that are released.

Circle hooks can be used with live or artificial bait, and are often used in saltwater fishing. When using a circle hook, the angler simply needs to reel in the line once a fish is hooked. The fish will then be caught by the jaw and can be easily released.

While there are many different types of bait that can be used to catch halibut, the above choices are some of the best. Whether you use live bait or artificial bait, make sure to experiment with different rigs and techniques until you find what works best for you. And always remember to respect the resource and practice catch and release if you are not planning on eating your catch.

6 Halibut Fishing Tips

For those looking to land a California halibut, or any kind of halibut for that matter consider these five tips: 

1. Heading out with one of those many charter boats is a great way to increase your chances of success. The captain and crew will have the local knowledge and experience to put you on the fish.

2. Halibut are bottom-dwelling fish, so be sure to use the appropriate tackle and rigs. Circle hooks are often used by halibut anglers when fishing in deep waters.

3. Bait selection is important when targeting halibut. Use one of the baits that we mentioned earlier in this article. Along with natural bait fishing, you could try using artificial lures as well until you discover what works best for you.

4. Once you hook a halibut, be prepared for a fight! These fish are known for their powerful runs, and sharp teeth and if there are strong currents like the ones on the ocean floor all of this will test your gear to the limit.

5. Pacific halibut are catch-and-release only in many areas, so be sure to check the regulations before you go fishing. Conserving this species is important for future generations of anglers.

6. If you’re fishing in sandy bottom areas, it’s a good idea jigs or artificial squid can be very effective.

Best Places To Fish For Halibut

If you’re looking for some great places to fish for halibut in California, there are plenty of options. The waters off the coast of Los Angeles and San Diego in southern California are always best spots, as is Monterey Bay. There are also many good spots for halibut fishing around the San Francisco Bay Area, such as the Golden Gate Bridge and the rocky areas around Alcatraz Island. Anywhere along the California coast So whether you’re an experienced angler or a beginner, there’s sure to be a good place that’s perfect for you.

Conclusion – Best Bait For Halibut

So, there you have it! Now you know everything you need to know about the best bait for catching big halibut, as well as some tips and techniques for fishing for them. So what are you waiting for? So now on your next fishing trip, you can get out there and start reeling in some of these massive fish! And if you’re lucky enough to catch one, be sure to share your photos with us on our Facebook page Tackle Box Talk. We’d love to see them!

If you would like to learn more about deep sea fishing bait and what’s the best check out our article Best Baits For Deep Sea Fishing.

I hope this article has been helpful and informative. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to answer them. Happy Halibut Fishing!

Cory is a content writer-editor and founder of Tackle Box Talk. Favorite Quote: "Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime."

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