California halibut

The California Halibut is a type of flatfish commonly found in relatively shallow water and is described as nearshore water species.

They are called so because of their usage of estuarine wetlands. Though they are from the family of left-eyed flounders, California Halibuts are predominantly right-eyed.

They are common targets of commercial fisheries along with recreational fisherman and are commonly called small halibut fly swatter and large halibut barndoor.


Being a flatfish, their physical structure is composed of an oblong and compressed body shape. Above their pectoral fin, they have distinct high-arched lateral lines.

Their heads are consistently small, but with a sizeable twisted mouth paired with sharp conical teeth. Adult California Halibut typically carry a uniform brown/brownish-black on their eyed side. However, they may also contain whitish or mottled spots.

When observed from the above view, the darker side of the California Halibut blends with the darker water area or substrate under the fish.

Habitat and Lifestyle

An adult California Halibut commonly prefers areas of nearshore waters consisting of soft flat mud or sand bottoms. This fish species can also be detected in kelp beds along with rocky areas at times.

Although they are also found in deep ocean waters of up to 600 ft, their most common water depth is the outside surf line to about 60m.

Finding and Catching

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

The California Halibut are usually found in the Magdalena Bay, from Mexico to Washington state, but they also have a separate population around the upper California gulf. Most tend to occur in the south (San Francisco).

More often, a trap hook placed behind the bait along with the treble hook is often utilized for catching this fish species.

Peak Season

The California Halibut are usually in high numbers throughout the month of May to September, and this offers the perfect time period to go for California Halibut fishing.

Spring is also taken as a productive season for Halibuts as they typically spread everywhere within the bays during this time. This usually starts from March till June.

Best Bait

Here is a look at some of the most prominent baits used against the California Halibut:

  • Sardines
  • Anchovies
  • Mackerel
  • Squid
  • Red beads