Brandon Hayward's Blog

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Saturday, February 18, 2012
Gone fishin': on the drift
Monday, February 20, 2012
Halibut, continued ....

Sunday: post halibut musings
Ok, well it's been 50 days and I've managed to get 50 blogs up. It's been fun so far. Originally, my plan was to have my blogs up first thing in the morning to start each day, but sometimes when the weather is like this, it's tough to get the blog up first thing on my day off, or before going fishing. 

Friday morning I got the blog up, grabbed two little Harnell bait rods and strapped a couple of Talica 8s on them and met Denny Hill for a day of halibut fishing. It wasn't until the afternoon that the drift got going and I scratched out one of the stock grade, call them 8 to 10 pounders that have been biting below Dana Point, more specifically on the hard bottoms from San Mateo to the upper end of Pendleton. I actually got down as far as Box Canyon and Yellowtail Kelp, taking the advice of the "Sacred Coast" article and traveling down outside the surfline on the ride down. Thought was that if there are halibut biting up above, maybe there'd be a little unfished nugget down off Box or off one of the hard bottoms inside Yellowtail. There wasn't. But the ride down was worth it. There's nothing like a zone that inspires when fished. 

Plan was to fish half a day Saturday, then plan was to bail on plan and enjoy a day at home, then plan changed when my bud Tim Husband called asking if I wanted to jump on his boat and fish halibut from mid morning to 3 or 4 or so. We ended up getting back at 5, with 5 halibut. 

Cori was hot right out of the gates (standard) getting a pair of halibut in our faces, kicked off by one on her first bait on the first drift. The breeze was from the south and the current was going uphill, creating great conditions, as in the boat drifting the lines into the faces of fish that were facing into the current. Tim got two, including the biggest fish of the trip that was probably a 16 to 18 pounder. And I even got one, which is always remarkable given the fact that I'm pretty poor at halibut fishing. I just need to do it more. All the seasons working on overnight, multi-day and long range sportboats there wasn't a whole lot of halibut fishing going on. But I am trying to learn. It's been a fun challenge. It's pretty technical. You have to fish with the rod and reel in the hand, and fishing these hard bottoms means working the bait through the rocks and not letting too much scope get out, which means adjusting sinkers and even using an apparatus to slow down drift. 

Here's some of what I think I've picked up:

Figure out a rig that works for you. Some swear by a sliding sinker, or some sort of sliding rig. Others, like the best guys in San Diego, like a three-way swivel or swear the bounce ball is the way to go or just simply tie a reverse dropper loop. They all work. Find what gives confidence, like anything in fishing. 

Squid isn't a necessity. We've been ingrained that squid makes everything better, but for the flatties--especially this winter--the sardines are where it's at. 

Figure out drift and current. Like any fishing, current and drift is important, but for halibut, drift and current is everything. 

Fish the hard bottoms. This year, from San Diego to Long Beach, the halibut have been on the hard bottoms. (Harder the bottom, the thicker the red bottom on the meter.) They aren't always in the sand.

Don't get married to the sportboats. On Friday the Clemente split and I watched from a mile away as two skiffs literally raced to the spot where the halibut special just bailed from. Clemente skipper Cory Lieser told me that skiffs have literally tried to bribe the guys on the bait receiver to find out EXACTLY where they are fishing. There's halibut up and down the coast. A great way to spend a winter day is either drifting around on a skiff or jumping on a halibut special. When one hits the deck it's pretty rewarding. Enjoy. 

If you have any halibut tips or theories, I'd love to hear them. 

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