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Fishermen's Journal

Tom's Halibut Tricks

by Tom Harmon


TomShotTom picIf you have been keeping up on the saltwater scene, you know there has been a fair bite inside the LB harbor. These fish haven't been big, just about 8-10#'s for me. I've read that there are some bigger ones on the outside of the BW and up in MDR in front of twin towers.

Some of the best places to try in the Long Beach area are around the oil islands. Sometimes the fish will be right up against the rocks that make the islands. More often than not, they will be a short distance away. Look for irregularities in the bottom. You won't be looking so much for structure (as in calico fishing) in the harbor, but for small depressions in the bottom. A few feet can make a difference. Look also at some of the deep holes that can be found in the vicinity of the islands. Some of these holes can be as much as 60 feet deep. Generally the edges of the holes are the most productive rather than the deepest part. Look on a chart of the harbor for some of the contours of the bottom.

062699f.jpg (25194 bytes)Lately the fish have been in shallow, 10-25 feet or so. My best bites have been mainly in 20-30 feet, though I have heard reports of fish in the 10' range caught lately.

An often overlooked tip for finding halibut is to look for birds working the area or sitting on the water. People think that halibut don't follow baitfish around and just wait for the bait to come to them. Well, halibut do follow bait around, especially when the bait is down deep, just off the bottom. In the case of the depths around the islands in the harbor, the bait can even be near the top to draw halibut to them. If you can't get a bite in your favorite spot, try the birds!

The tackle needed for this fishing is basically the same as for calico's. A 7'-8' rod rated for 12#- 25# line would be fine. Spinning reels can be used, but most people prefer conventional reels due to the fact that they have a clicker. The standard reels for this type of fishing would be the Penn Squidder, Jigmaster, or the equivalent in another line, or even the lowly Penn 155 will work well on these fish. Generally 15# line is a safe bet. Sometimes a lighter line like 10# will get you more bites, or if the fish are suicidal they will eat 30# line.

The rig I use is the "fish finder" rig. Cut a 10" piece out of you line and tie a barrel swivel to one end of this piece and a snap, snap swivel, or a surgeons loop on the other end. This leader is for the weight. Now cut about a 2-3' leader out of your main line (or fluorocarbon) and tie a barrel swivel to one end and tie an appropriate sized hook to the other end to match the size of the bait (if you want you can also add a trap hook). Now run your main line through the barrel swivel of the short leader for your weight and tie it to the barrel swivel on the hook leader (insert small plastic bead between the two swivels if you like, not required). Now you have a sliding sinker so that when a fish picks up the bait it won't feel the weight.

The weight required depends on the conditions and the depth your fishing in and the size of the bait. In the harbor 1oz to 3oz torpedo style weights should be enough most of the time. If the wind is really ripping, a 4 or 5oz may be needed.

The sardines seem to be working well, but squid would be very nice. You could try fresh dead fish market squid, this used to work decent for me. The best 'dines seemed to be the medium ones, about 5-7" long. Just make sure you give the fish a chance to eat it, at least a slow 10 count if not longer. Halibut will hold the bait allot of times before swallowing it.

Now armed with this info, get out there and get one!!

Hope this helps all of you who want to try for one. One more tip, you might want to try the channel by the QM. There used to be a decent bite for them there also, espsially after a rain but before all the junk comes down the river.


p.s. Here's a map showing some spots inside the LA Harbor you might find productive:

Inside - click for detail

* P.S. I had to bug Tom for a couple weeks to put this article together. He's been having a lot of good luck with the flatties lately. And, when you have that much good luck, well there's got to be some skill involved too. Heck, he's caught more big butts than, well, than I've ever dated... So, he was a natural as a contributor to this section. Tom, doesn't consider himself anyone's expert on halibut fishing. He's just another private boater, one of us, who has some smarts to share. If you have a message for him or a question be sure to post it on the CharkBoard, or send me an e-mail and I'll forward your question.

Have a question about this article?  Send it on over...

Q:    Date: Sunday, March 14, 1999 11:55 PM >    Subject: Have the halibut moved in    Great Article I was wondering what time of year the halibut move in to shallow water. What is the deepest you have caught halibut.I have been getting a few shorts in 150+ water. When I move to the shallow areas I just get chewed up by crabs. Do you feel line color makes a difference and why.    Thanks,    Jeff

A: It depends on what area that you fish. The Santa Monica Bay the fish are usually from 30' out to about 150'. In the Long Beach Harbor the fish can be found in the surf out to the wall. I do best in the shallower areas and along the oil islands inside the harbor. Outside along some areas of the wall and especially the gaps for the ships can be great at times. You can occasionally find them in much deeper water, but not as regularly as in the shallows. As for the time of year, October through January seems to be about the best time to fish for them inside the harbor. Spring and early summer sometimes will get decent runs of them also. S.M. bay also gets a decent run of them at about the same times. As for line color, it's mostly a personal choice. Most people prefer to fish halibut with clear line or blue. I prefer clear. I hope this helps a little, > >Tom >

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