Spearfishing California Halibut Tips

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Are you and your buddies up for the challenge of spearfishing the California halibut? These flatfish are one of the most notorious species in terms of strength and aggressiveness in Southern California.

Hunting and shooting them is an easy task, but it’s finding them at certain dive locations that’s hard. Now, that’s a challenge for many SoCal spearos. Here’s our take on the whole spearfishing California Halibut pursuit. 

Listen to More Spearfishing Tips on the Cast & Spear Podcast

What You’ll Need

Having the right gear and tackle will help you bag this California game fish in spearfishing California halibut. Here are a couple of things every beginner spearo will need in spearfishing Halibut. 

Knowing the Fish

The California halibut is a flat fish that loves to swim near sand, gravel, or muddy bottoms. Learning the fish habits of the halibuts will help you realize that diving with a pole spear in the ground waters of SoCal will help you bag this game fish. 

Knowing the Regulations

According to the California Fish and Wildlife, hunting halibut for the recreational fishery is open all year. You can bag and possess a maximum of three fish north of Point Sur Monterey County and five fish in the south. The size limit for this fish species in length is 22 inches. 

spearfishing california halibut
The notorious demersal flatfish of the ocean. Source: Ed Bierman

Spearfishing California Halibut

The best time to hunt for it is during the spawning season, a couple of days before a full moon, and during high tide in the morning when the halibut is right up near the shore. Look for the halibut near coves, piers, jetties, and sand dollar beds.

You can also look for halibut around a grunion run just because that’s where they will be eating. It’s impossible to find them outside of these runs, but it’s just a little bit harder.

When you are out on the water, prepare your speargun or pole spear before diving in. Halibuts usually burrow in the sand, and you can use that to your benefit. If you find one near the rocks, shoot the spear carefully, or you may clip it.

Halibut Spearfishing Tips

  • If you spook a halibut, don’t be too worried. Try swimming in circles with a widening radius, as you will most likely find the fish again.
  • When you find a smaller halibut, stick around and don’t leave, as these fish species tend to stick around. The smaller halibuts will be with the bigger ones, so keep hunting and working in that area. 
  • Aiming at the spine behind the neck of the fish when you get a clear shot will ensure a clean kill of the fish. Plus, the fish gets pinned to the seafloor at the same time when you shoot the fish this way. Once you bag the halibut, slide your fingers through one side of the gills to paralyze the fish. 

Insider Advice

Hunting and spearfishing halibut areas, if not more, fun as a pier or shore fishing this fish species. Moving slowly when hunting California Halibut will help you aim for the right part to shoot at. You do not want to spook this game fish with your movement while you’re aiming for a clear shot of its spine.

Jon Stenstrom
Founder & Angler
Jon Stenstrom is a fishing enthusiast. He has over 25 years of fishing experience, and 6 years of spearfishing experience, and is currently learning how to boat. Jon has his Open Water PADI Certification and FII Freediver Level 1 Certification. Jon has traveled the world to fish and dive, most notably in the Great Barrier Reef, Baja Mexico, Thailand, and Malaysia. More Articles
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