Name: Atlantic Halibut
Scientific name: Hippoglossus stenolepis
Descriptions: Starting life as a round fish, these Jurassic looking creatures of the deep soon evolve into a flatfish. The eyes migrate around their head at around 6 months old where they then start living life as a flatfish. Being a mottled brown on top with a white underbelly these fish are perfectly adapted to living life on the seabed as this camouflage aids them in their life as an ambush predator.
Average Size: Halibut vary in size, the smaller specimens are only a couple of pounds whereas the larger monsters reach over 500lbs. The average size of the fish you are likely to catch is around 50lbs.
Where to catch: The Halibut is a flatfish that lives in the cold waters of the North Sea, inhabiting the waters around Greenland, Iceland and Norway. The odd specimen has also been found in the waters around the UK by commercial and recreational anglers. These fish love a flat bottom to lay in wait for their prey to pass over their heads where they will then rise up and engulf the food in one mouthful. Destinations like Mefjord, Havoysund, Saltstraumen and the Lofoten Islands are all very good places to target Halibut.
Boat fishing: When fishing for Halibut from the boat there are 2 main methods used to snare these beasts. I would suggest when on the boat, once you have set your drift up, that you fish a couple of rods from the back of the boat using dead-baits and a Halibut anti-twist lead. This can be fished either straight down or off a Halibut anti-twist float. The advantage of using floats is that you can fish well away from the back of the boat at the desired depth making for a much more precise bait presentation.
I have seen fish caught as much as 10 metres from off the bottom so do not be afraid to fish that far up. Whilst doing this I would suggest having a couple of anglers at the front of the boat using shads to attract the Halibut and get them in the vicinity of the baits. Quite often you will have a couple of pulldowns on the shads before it goes quiet then one of the dead bait rods will scream off at a rate of knots.
Shore fishing: Fishing for big fish such as Halibut from the shore is becoming much more of a popular style to fish abroad. The first thing you need to do is to look for an area with a sandy bottom, areas where the sea bed drops away or the tide runs hard through a narrowing in the land. These are all prime Halibut areas to fish and you will find these fish are always willing to hit a bait. The tackle needed for these fish has to be up to the job with large capacity reels loaded with strong line or braid a big necessity. Heavy ground rods are must-have, light continental style rods will not cut the mustard, you need a rod that will be able to withstand the crashing runs these Halibut make.
For baits, I would suggest using an oily fish bait such as Herring, Bluey or Mackerel as these will release the scent into the water creating a slick that will entice fish in from further away. Rig wise for Halibut, I would suggest Using Pulley pennells with a strong rig body of 150lb plus. The snood needs to be of the same strength to avoid the Halibut biting through the line. A strong hook in sizes of either 6/0-8/0 is needed to ensure the fish stays hooked and doesn’t bend the hook out.
Before every cast ensure that every part of your tackle is still in top condition. These fish will find any weaknesses in your set-up and expose them in a savage way, one minute you will have the fish of a lifetime tearing off through the water and in a blink of an eye, it will be gone. If this was down to human error (poor knots, blunt hooks, nicks in the line) you will be kicking yourself for a very long time.