halibut fishing

All About Halibut Fishing in BC



One of the most common inquiries we get about BC halibut fishing. Figuring out when and where to go halibut fishing in British Columbia can be a bit confusing, that’s why I built this page, to answer some questions about BC halibut fishing and give some halibut fishing tips. I work as a full-time fishing guide and have caught a lot of big halibut so I hope this info helps you out!

If you’re looking for a halibut fishing trip, be sure to check our our top BC fishing charters page, there’s a ton of info there and links to the best salmon and halibut charter operations in British Columbia.

BC halibut fishing



Halibut are found on the west coast of Vancouver Island, the northern tip of Vancouver Island, the central BC coast and the northern BC coast, including Haida Gwaii. They are not found in any targetable numbers of halibut near Vancouver. If anyone is offering halibut fishing on a Vancouver day charter be skeptical.

If you’re looking for the easiest destinations for a BC halibut fishing trip you’ll want to look at southern Vancouver Island or Vancouver Island’s west coast. Vancouver Island’s west coast is a mecca for salmon, halibut and bottom fishing, with Tofino & Ucluelet being the two hotspots.planning a BC fishing trip to specifically target halibut we’d suggest a trip to Tofino on Vancouver Island’s central west coast or Port Hardy on Vancouver Island’s northern tip.

For those willing to venture a bit further, northern Vancouver Island also offers spectacular bottom fishing for halibut and ling cod. Port Hardy, on Vancouver Island’s northern tip, is a hub of sport fishing through the Spring and Summer months and a favourite destination of halibut anglers.

Willing to travel a bit further? The absolute best area for halibut fishing in BC is Haida Gwaii, a series of islands off of BC’s northern coast. This is where you’ll find the biggest halibut in British Columbia and the best numbers of fish. The halibut fishing season here is mid May to mid September and bottom fishing is good during that entire period. There are some small independent charter companies that offer Haida Gwaii salmon and halibut fishing as well as established all-inclusive fishing lodges.

BC Halibut Fishing TripsTIMING YOUR TRIP


Generally speaking Spring & Summer months offer the most consistent BC halibut fishing, but halibut are caught all year-round in BC. Fishing in the Summer months offers the most pleasant experience, as any other time of the year weather and water conditions on the BC coast can be unfavourable.

Unfortunately many of best places to go halibut fishing also see harsher Winter weather, so halibut fishing isn’t a year-round fishery.

Unlike salmon, halibut don’t have a cycle where they move through different sections of the coast. Salmon fishing seasons in BC vary as fish move around the coast to their home spawning rivers. Halibut do migrate, but they’re generally found in the same areas year-round.

If you’re looking for the best months to go BC halibut fishing, then aim for a mid June to mid September timeframe.

BC halibut Fishing



As of writing this post (December 9/17), the halibut quota in British Columbia is at a two halibut possession. You can only catch one halibut per day, but you can have possession of two. That just means you can’t keep two halibut in one day. It is important to know the BC halibut size limits. You can keep two halibut, but only one of them can be over 83 centimetres but no greater than 133 centimetres. They have to be measured properly and marked immediately on your licenses, for more information on halibut fishing regulations please visit the Department of Fisheries & Oceans BC Sport Fishing Guide. You can also download the BC Fishing App, a great tool for saltwater fishing information in BC.

UPDATE: Effective March 1, 2020 until further notice:

– The maximum length for halibut is 126 cm (97 cm head-off).

– The daily limit for halibut is one (1).

– The possession limit for halibut is either of:
—- one (1) halibut measuring 90 cm to 126 cm in length (69 cm to 97 cm head-
off), OR
—- two (2) halibut, each measuring under 90 cm in length (69 cm head-off).
– The annual limit is six (6) halibut per licence holder per licence year, as
set out on the 2019/2020 & 2020/21 Tidal Waters Sport Fishing Licence.

– All halibut retained by the licence holder between March 1, 2020 and March
31, 2020 shall be immediately recorded in ink on the 2019/2020 Tidal Waters
Sport Fishing Licence. The area from which each halibut is caught and its head-
on length shall immediately be recorded on the licence.

– All halibut retained by the licence holder between April 1, 2020 and March
31, 2021 shall be immediately recorded in ink on the 2020/2021 Tidal Waters
Sport Fishing Licence. The area from which each halibut is caught and its head-
on length shall immediately be recorded on the licence.

– Head-off measurements are made from the base of the pectoral fin at its most
forward point to the extreme end of the middle of the tail.



If you’d like to transport your sport caught halibut or salmon back to the United States after your trip you can do so without issue. No special paperwork is needed, you can travel with your fish or have it sent home through a cannery.  St. Jean’s Cannery services most of the fishing lodge in British Columbia and will ship your fish directly to your door. If you are traveling internationally, elsewhere than the US, it is best to check with your country’s regulations to see if vacuum packed frozen fish can be brought home with you.




Halibut fishing is quite a bit more technical than simply bobbing around. A good halibut guide will be fishing bottom structure, more than likely an elevated sand bottom with some reefs nearby. It’s important to be fishing the right tides, not all tides are amendable to fishing certainly areas. Guides will know what the tides are doing and start drifting so to target a specific area along that drift. You can also anchor for halibut, dropping an anchor and holding a spot, this is easily the most effective method for catching halibut. If you’re drifting you want to keep lines straight up and down, a good guide will be backing the boat into the tide or wind to slow your drift. If you’re lines are at 45 degree angles you fishin’ guide isn’t doing his job!

There’s lots of bait and scents, lures and jigs you can use for halibut fishing, but I’ve always found that the area you fish and the way you cover it, is much more important than what you’re using in terms of bait.  If fishing smaller chicken halibut, in the 10-15 pound range, the P-Line Halibut Drop Jig is a personal favourite. For bigger halibut I’ll run a 24 ounce jig head with a neon skirt and a piece of octopus. Halibut, and all other bottom fishing, absolutely love octopus and you’re hard pressed to find a better halibut fishing bait than an octopus.

Know the bottom structure, fish a specific area, keep your lines down and having the right bait are key components to a successful day halibut fishing.

halibut fishing

About the Author

Yos Gladstone is the owner operator of Chromer Sport Fishing, a guiding company and booking agency based in British Columbia, Canada. A full-time salmon & steelhead guide, Yos spends 200+ days a year on the water fishing, guiding and hosting trips.

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