Atlantic halibut

The Atlantic halibut (Hippoglossus hippoglossus) is a flatfish species belonging to the Pleuronectidae family. They are a demersal fish that lives in the sand, clay, or gravel bottoms as deep as 50 and 2000 meters.

They are one of the world’s giant flatfish; measuring 4.7 meters long and weighing 710 lb and can live up to 8 years. They are a native inhabitant of the Northern Atlantic waters, starting from Greenland and Labrador to Iceland, the Barents Sea, and far south as the Bay of Biscay and Virginia, US.

Appearance

Atlantic Halibut has a compact, oval-shaped body and is typically a right-eyed flounder, with both eyes on the right side of its head and the left flank completely blind. They have big mouths with several pointed and curved teeth, and the caudal fin’s edge is concave.

The color on the left body fades to pale white while the other side forms a dark brown or olive coloring and appears almost black. Juveniles have speckles with white bellies that appear spotted with red and gray on maturity.

Habitat and Lifestyle

Atlantic halibuts typically inhabit the deep sea floor, occasionally coming close to the water surface. The larvae drift somewhat vulnerably, but they travel to the ocean bottom as they grow bigger.

Juveniles between the ages of 2 and 4 reside near shore, migrating deep into the waters as they mature.

Halibuts primarily feed on other fish, including herring, cod, haddock, capelin, and sand eels. Their diet also consists of crustaceans, cephalopods, benthos organisms, etc.

Young halibuts eat plankton for a year, and on attaining one, they feed on small fish and euphausiids until they turn 3. As they mature, they take in other fish, including young halibuts.

Finding and Catching

This fish can be caught from an inflatable boat or kayak.

Atlantic halibuts are bottom feeders and can be found on the ocean bed and mid-water depths. They can change their colors, so it isn’t easy to locate them on the sea floor from above. The best time to catch this flatfish is during the spring and summer.

You can find halibuts in places including

  • Deep pinnacles
  • Shallow rocky reefs
  • Sandbar edge
  • Boat engine marks
  • Docks
  • Kelp pads and groves
  • Canyons
  • Surf

You can catch Atlantic halibut from the shore or boat, although it depends on where you’re fishing. If you’re fishing from the shore, use a relatively light gear but don’t expect a good catch as the bigger ones live in deep waters inaccessible to anglers.

If you’re fishing halibuts from a boat, invest in a boat with extra power and an engine solid enough to drive through rough water currents. Halibuts put up resistance even at the surface, so you must ensure that it is not left free to shake the deck of your boat.

Some of the best fishing methods to catch Atlantic halibuts include

  • Drift fishing
  • Bottom bouncing
  • Saltwater jigging

Peak Season

May to September

Best Bait

  • Clams
  • Saltwater live bait
  • Squids
  • Crabs
  • Jigs
  • Cut bait