Fishing Reports

Halibut action heats up near Brookings

Anglers fishing out of the Port of Brookings Harbor are being treated to a surprisingly good season for Pacific halibut, while their cousins the California halibut also are making a strong appearance. Brookings Fishing Charters has been at the forefront of getting anglers into these prized fish.

Bruce Beck, a frequent customer of Brookings Fishing Charters, holds a 40-inch Pacific halibut caught with Capt. Andy Martin in early August 2020.

The season for Pacific halibut has been open since May 1. The fishing has generally been good when boats can make it to the deeper water Pacific halibut live in. In recent weeks, however, fishing has been surprisingly good. Bigger numbers of halibut are being caught, and boats are actually returning with limits. “Normally, when someone goes out of Brookings for halibut, catching one fish and especially caching two fish is a good day,” said Capt. Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters LLC. “Catching a boat limit of Pacific halibut has always been a fairly rare feat out of Brookings. We are essentially at the southern end of their range, and the halibut populations are smaller here.” But this year, halibut numbers are up. Some boats are getting two or even three halibut a trip, although most are small between 10 and 20 pounds.

Customers of Brookings Fishing Charters hold their one-fish limit for Pacific halibut in their right hand and a California halibut in their left hand. The fish were caught in August 2020.

In early August, with calm ocean conditions, Capt. Andy ran a pair of halibut trips out of Brookings. The results were very impressive. His customers caught boat limits of Pacific halibut two days in a row, five the first day and seven the next. The biggest fish was nearly 40 pounds. After limits of Pacific halibut in deeper water, Capt. Andy headed to shallow water, where his customers each caught one to three California halibut each. The combined catch of Cali Hali and Pacific halibut in the same day was something even ODFW said was a rare sight. The limits of Pacific halibut also turned heads, catching the attention of other anglers anxious to learn how and where such big numbers of Pacific halibut were being caught out of Brookings.

Capt. Andy with a Pacific halibut caught on one of his charters last week.

Capt. Andy holds a distinct advantage over most charter boat operators on the Oregon Coast when it comes to halibut fishing. He ran offshore charter boats in Alaska for a decade, both larger inspected party boats with more than a dozen passengers, and six-pack charter boats similar to those operated by Brookings Fishing Charters. His customers have landed thousands upon thousands of halibut, and he is an expert at finding and catching them. His biggest catch in Alaska was over 90 inches and weighed over 400 pounds.

Brookings Fishing Charters customers pose with Pacific halibut, front row, California halibut, second row, and petrale sole.

The Pacific halibut season runs through October out of Brookings, or until the quota is filled. Now that salmon season is over, the Brookings Fishing Charters fleet will focus on Pacific halibut and California halibut when the weather allows them to get to the fishing grounds.

Bruce Beck admires a Pacific halibut gaffed by Shane Brooks during a charter last week.

The Brookings Fishing Charters boats have the latest halibut gear, and anglers use advanced techniques perfect by the captains. Capt. Andy, Capt. Travis, Capt. Rye and Capt. Shane all have considerable Alaska and Oregon halibut fishing experience. Each has guided customers to countless halibut. “There are little tricks, special ways to bait hooks, custom rigs, use of scents, selecting locations, judging currents and deciding on what depth to fish that you learn by trial and error, and lots of experience,” Martin said. “Our captains have probably forgotten more about halibut fishing than most people will ever know.”

Bruce Beck holds a beautiful California halibut caught an hour after he landed a Pacific halibut in deeper water.

Pacific halibut are caught in deeper water, using larger baits, waiting patiently for a strike. Sand dabs and petrale sole also are caught while halibut fishing. California halibut are caught in shallow water, by trolling baits. Brookings is perhaps the best area to catch Pacific halibut and California halibut in the same day.

Capt. Shane nets a keeper California halibut.

To learn more about halibut trips, call Brookings Fishing Charters, (541) 813-1082.

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