Halibut (California)

From 5th Trip: Cabrillo and Belmont Pier

California Halibut

Family: Bothidae (Left-eyed flounders)

Genus and Species: Paralichthys californicus

Description: The body of the California halibut is oblong and compressed. The head is small and the mouth large. Although a member of the left-eyed flounder family, about 40 percent of California halibut have their eyes on the right side. The color is dark brown to black on the eyed side and white on the blind side. Their numerous teeth, very large mouth and a high arch in the middle of the “top” side above the pectoral fin make them easily distinguishable from other flatfish.

Range: California halibut occur from Magdalena Bay, Baja California, to the Quillayute River, British Columbia. A separate population occurs in the upper Gulf of California.

Natural History: California halibut feed almost exclusively upon anchovies and similar small fishes. At times they are observed jumping clear of the water as they make passes at anchovy schools near the surface. Males first mature when 2 or 3 years of age, but females do not mature until 4 or 5. A 5 year old fish may be anywhere from 11 to 17 inches long. Spawning takes place in relatively shallow water during the months of April through July.

Fishing Information: California halibut are pursued by anglers throughout the year, but the best landings usually occur in the spring. In central and northern California fishing is best in summer and early fall. At that time California halibut move into shallow water to spawn. Drifting for halibut is the most successful fishing method with anglers using live anchovies, queenfish, white croakers, shiner perch or Pacific mackerel as bait. Artificial lures work well at times although they are not always effective. California halibut are found over sandy bottoms.

Other Common Names: flatty, fly swatter (small), barn door (large), alabato, Monterey halibut, chicken halibut, southern halibut.

Largest Recorded: 5 feet; 72 pounds.

Habitat: Shallow Sandy Environment

From the California Department of Fish and Game


About the Author

Sean loves to fish in Southern California and this site is his journal of his adventures in fishing. He started fishing when he was a little guy with his dad David, and has continued to this day with his family. In his day job, Sean has been a graphic designer for over 15 years, designing everything from in-store displays and signage for supermarkets to e-commerce auction sites for an online consumer electronics company. He was a web and graphic designer then later an art director for McMullen Argus Publishing (Primedia), building and working on sites for Lowrider Magazine and Super Chevy, plus 30 other automotive magazine sites. Sean seized the opportunity to teach other aspiring designers - a passion that took him first to Learning Tree University and then to Golden West College in Huntington Beach, CA, where he has been an integral part of the renowned digital arts department for more than ten years. Throughout his teaching career, Sean maintained a freelance business, designing for clients including the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (Los Angeles Area Emmy Awards), Image Comics and many more. See his work at http://www.glumace.com.