Learn how to kayak for halibut in California


By mid-afternoon, San Francisco Bay had begun to shake. As a kayaker for the first time, the white caps made me nervous. But my new Bigwater 132 PDL Old Town felt stable enough — and the oyster owl was biting. I just did not land them. I had a few short strikes in the morning. Later, I got into what I felt was beautiful, but got rid of it before I could look at it. Old Town had me put on a day at the bay with pro-staffers Annie Nagel and Virginia Salvador, a co-captain on Gatecrasher Fishing Adventures. They would both ride the California goalkeeper with halibut, and I intended to do the same.

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Just as I thought we might have to go back to the boat platform for a day, I felt a pull. I fed the fish line – the mushroom halibut is known for short strokes – and when I started to pull, I felt the fish at the end of my line and quickly brought it to the surface. It took a few short runs before I caught the net. At that moment, I saw the pull of kayak fishing in the sea water.

The Caliph of California is smaller than their most famous cousin, the Caliph of the Pacific. Pursuing California halibut is a great way for novice saltwater kayak fishermen to wet their feet. Fish are often caught in the bay – San Francisco Bay and San Diego Bay are two water bodies known to target them – which are less terrifying and dangerous than the open ocean. California oyster mushroom kayaking tactics are also relatively straightforward and do not require a ton of equipment. But fishing can still be a challenge – and chasing halibut oysters in California is exciting enough to keep even the most seasoned kayak fisherman engaged. If you are new to saltwater kayaking or trying to call in for summer halibut bites, here is what I learned from Nagel and Salvador – two of the best Pacific kayak fishermen in the game.

Rig Up Right

Setting up a halibut platform is simple. You need to use a weight that is heavy enough to reach the bottom, depending on tidal conditions. Having a mix of linear or circular sinks from 4 ounces to 16 ounces is ideal. You will want to remove your weight on one side using a three-way swivel and attach a mono steering wheel to the other end.

You can scratch for red halibut or use artificial trolling systems, but using halibut bait is more effective. If you have access to live bait, use it. “There is nothing like fishing for a living glitter,” says Nagel. “You will feel it fly from your rod, but the oyster owl is upset about that. I would expect to take more action on live bait because bait does more work. ”

Nagel likes to attach a bucket with holes in it to the side of her kayak to keep the bait alive by rinsing water through it as she paddles. El Salvador has a good portable live with an air conditioner that can place it on the back of its kayak. You can keep it simple and adjust the live bait with a simple blow j to the nose.

If live bait is not available, frozen bait will work well. Anchovies in trays and herring are popular and effective options. You will want to use a two-hook device with a sting, placing the upper hook through the edge and the lower hook through the side of the bait. Nagel suggests using a triple kick for the trailer as it improves connections, but may make it harder to release the shakers. “Presentation is so important, so change your bait even with the slightest scratch,” adds Nagel.

Fish at the end

kayak fisherman with fishing rod bent by mushroom halibut
Salvador fights an open halibut goalkeeper. Annie Nagel

Regardless of whether you choose live or frozen bait, the tactics in the water are very straightforward. You need to slowly jump your weight to the bottom of the sea. Make sure you feel the bottom with your rod. Halibut are ambush predators and are attracted by the wavy movement of bait moving up and down – but it must be very close to the end. You will need to adjust the weight of the sink depending on the tide. If the tide is breaking, place a heavier sink so that you still have a strong connection to the bottom of the sea. If not, choose a lighter weight for better feel.

Drift, Troll or both

To get into the fish, try alternating movement with wave and trolling slowly. Trolling is often a good way to cover the ground and get into an area where the fish are, but once you do, slow down. There are probably other halibut nearby, and you do not want to leave fish to find fish. Shrimp bites can vary depending on the day. Sometimes, slow motion will work better if the fish are not fed aggressively. Other times, you can cover more ground and get into more fish if the bite is open.

Team Up

two kayak fishermen carry red halibut
The author celebrates his first kayak fishing. Virginia Salvador

Halibut fishing is a team sport – at least it should be. Halibut are training fish and tend to get together. Like swallowing, they usually lie flat against the sandy bottoms. The more inconvenience you and your friends can cause by moving around an area where there are lice of mushrooms present, the greater the chances of connecting.

“There is a reason why rental boats are so effective for mushroom halibut,” Salvador explains. “They have at least six rods at the same time, which causes a lot of turbulence underwater and activates the sensory cortex.”

If you are fishing with other kayak fishermen, group close to each other, effectively mimicking a charter boat. If not here’s a new product just for you!

The tide time

Halibut usually likes to bite when the tide is slower. “They’re not very active when it ‘s really torn,” Nagel says. “One of the best times to fish for them is an hour or two before or after a high tide. That’s when it gets really good. ” Low tide can also provide a good window for mushroom halibut as long as the water purity remains good.

Find your honey holes

Halibut likes to take shelter in deeper holes where they can lean on the bottom and then get up and catch the bait fish that pass over. Use a kayak-ready fish finder, monitor water depth, and fish deeper areas more fully. Another good way to target holes where mushroom halibut is likely to accumulate is to use digital marine mapping software like Navionics, which can give you a detailed understanding of water depth and structure without requiring a fish finder. .

Be patient in the group of hooks

Halibut often hits on the tail of your bait before you commit to it. A halibut will sometimes give you a strong kick, but more often than not, you will only feel a bump or an aggravation at the bottom of the line. “I always assume it’s a fish,” says Salvador. “Better to do this, even if it is not, than to lose a fish.”

Instead of immediately placing the hook, Salvador suggests pointing the rod down toward the hook, opening the bail, and feeding the fishing line for 10 to 15 seconds. This gives the fish enough time to get comfortable enough to get the bait more fully. Nagel does not use this technique. Instead, it lets the rod load, holding the bait in the impact zone without putting the jam in line.

the fisherman holds the halibut from the kayak
Live bait works best for odd halibut, but frozen bait works well. Annie Nagel

Regardless of which method works best for you, neither Nagel nor Salvador recommend giving a set of strong hooks, which can potentially remove the hook from the fish’s soft mouth. Instead, raise the rod firmly and apply constant pressure to the fish. Your goal is to smoothly lift the fish from the bottom.

Assign loose crawl

Little Halibut do not make a ton of war, but that is not what you are looking for. When kayaking for large mushroom halibut, you can not place the same kind of torque on the fish as on a boat, which makes it especially important to keep your tow set cheaper than you might think. . A large fuzzy halibut can make bubble runs, potentially breaking your line or pulling your rod into the water.

Be Secret on the Net

One of the challenges of kayak fishing is catching your fish with one hand as you spin it with the other. Halibut do not start fighting hard until shortly before they reach the surface – which is when they often start running. When entering the net, slide down the fish as secretly as you can and then catch instead of going straight into it. “Try to do it with one quick move,” says Nagel. “The fish will start pulling as soon as you have the net.”

Read more: SoCal Kayak Angler catches 16.75 pounds big mouth bass

Gear Tip: Stay visible

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Likewise, novice fishermen and kayak experts should always make sure to increase their visibility when in the open water, especially if you are close to large transport canals or heavy boat traffic. I recommend the lightweight YakAttack VISICarbon Pro flag. It is foldable for transport and easily climbs on a kayak rail when you are ready to fish. The flag is quite visible on most days and the 17 lumen LED light can be turned on during extreme fog and low light situations.





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