Happy angler with halibut fish

Best Surf Fishing Methods for California Halibut

How big is one of those fish that are easily caught during surf fishing? As long as you have the right equipment and methods, it is pretty simple to catch a good-sized California halibut, no matter your experience level. In order to help you with this, we're going to take a look at some of the best surf fishing methods for California halibut and some tips and tricks on how to be more successful when it comes to this.

Where To Fish?

When it comes to surf fishing methods, the first thing you have to really pay attention to is where to fish for your California halibut. Halibut is not very picky when it comes to areas they like to swim through, so there is a wide range of beaches and structures you can utilize to find the perfect spot. But if you want to be consistent, you need to look for an area that allows the fish to execute their overall personality, which is that of an ambush predator. 

California halibut are very flat, blend well with sand, and have a basic appearance, so they blend in very well. That means looking for areas where there may be rocks and other structures that they can hide in so that they can ambush their prey. Making sure these structures are also places where baitfish (like anchovies or grunion) like to eat and swim through will ensure that you are able to catch yourself a beautiful California halibut.

Rigging, Tackle, & Bait Tips For California Halibut

When it comes to methods of surf fishing for California halibuts, you also have to consider your rigging, tackle, and bait. So we're going to go into some tips that you can utilize to help enhance your methods so that you ensure success when you're out on the waters looking to capture yourself the big one.


Most people who surf fish for halibut tend to use two basic setups. The first is one called the Carolina rig, and the other is a lure rig. For those working with bait, the Carolina rig is the best option. This encompasses a sliding egg sinker, a swivel, a speed, a leader, and a hook. This is the best option for all live or dead baits and can also be used with flies if that's how you like to fish.

The second style of rig that is primarily used when surf fishing for halibut is a straight connection to the lure with a mono or uni knot filament. It may be best to use a fluorocarbon leader, especially since you will be fishing near rocks and structures. This will allow for a heavier leader and more abrasion resistance.


When it comes to the tackle, you're primarily going to be focusing on the reels and rods themselves. This option really depends on what style of bait you will be using (we will discuss that next). If you're choosing to fish with lures, then you're going to want a rod that can handle 8 to 16-pound lines. 

You can choose between a spinning or a conventional wheel. However, conventional wheels may be a better option, especially since you may be fighting the halibut away from areas that could eventually lead to snagging.

If you use a spinning reel, you will want to make sure you utilize a longer leader and singer and choose a rod rated for an 8 to 16-pound test.


Bait is another essential choice but when you're looking for a halibut especially utilizing surf fishing, there are plenty of options for you to choose from.

  • Live bait
  • Drop shot
  • Hard plastics
  • Frozen bait 
  • Lures

So as you see, you can pretty much use any type of bait there is when surf fishing. It really depends on your preference. When utilizing things like frozen live bait, it might be best to choose something that halibut eat as their food source. So this would include items like anchovies, grunions, and sardines.

 fisherman surf fishing in ocean beach

When Should I Fish For California Halibut?

It is also crucial to understand what time of year and day would be best to surf fish for California halibut when it comes to methods. You can fish for halibut year-round, but there tends to be more success if you're looking at times around late winter through to spring. 

It will be essential for you to understand the tides and times that work best with the beaches you are fishing from. This means that the best way to determine when it's time to fish for that California halibut is to do a little research and plan accordingly.

Final Thoughts

California halibut is delicious and quite the challenge to fish for. Though you can fish for them year-round, understanding the methods and techniques behind the process will allow you to be more successful on those fishing trips.

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