Halibut fishing on Vancouver Island in Nootka Sound and Esperanza Inlets showcase some of the most consistent bottom fishing anywhere on Vancouver Island, with many guests choosing our region for the fantastic halibut, ling cod, rockfish, and yellow eye fishing opportunities.
The halibut fishery has increased significantly in popularity over the last twenty years, with many keen anglers visiting our area solely to target halibut. We are fortunate to have an abundance of “chicken” halibut in our area. Considered the best for eating, chicken halibut are between 15 and 35 pounds and are a lot of fun to catch. Their highly desirable white meat has a mild, non-fishy taste. Preserve the fresh flavour and delicate texture of your catch by letting our fish processing team professionally package your fish and enjoy your halibut all winter long.
Our region of Vancouver Island offers a long halibut fishing season from March until October. Most of our halibut are caught in the open ocean outside of Nootka Sound and Esperanza Inlets. These baitfish-filled offshore banks offer fantastic halibut fishing grounds all season long. Anglers often target areas such as Estevan Point, Bajo Reef, Maquinna Point and many other of the numerous underwater structures, ridgelines, drop-offs, and reefs in the area. The fish frequent depths as shallow as 110 feet and down to as deep as 300 feet of water, although they are sometimes found in even shallower water.
The three most widely used halibut fishing techniques are anchoring, drifting, and slow-trolling. Our guides usually anchor and bounce bait on the bottom, which creates a scent trail and is extremely effective. This technique involves using a special ring-and-float anchoring system. Once the bait is in the water, it is a matter of waiting the halibut out. Patience is key. Once you get a hit, things get very exciting, very fast. Halibut are huge fighters and bringing one in is an experience you’ll never forget.
Another fishing technique is drifting. This brings the bait past the waiting fish, but the must be attentive to avoid hang-ups and lost gear, as well as maintain a vertical line. Slow-trolling does the same, but also allows the angler to cover more ground.
Other bottom fish such yellow eye and rockfish are abundant in Nootka and Esperanza Inlets. They are usually found near bottom structure and are caught on jigs or while trolling. Bait such as herring, octopus, and squid work very well.
One of the most highly prized bottom fish is the ling cod. Despite their appearance, this fish has a very delicate meat with a sweet flavour. You’ll find ling cod hiding amongst underwater rock structures and ledges, waiting to ambush your bait or lure. If you’re not having any luck in a location with good structure, try changing your depth – generally going deeper. We are fortunate to have an abundance of ling cod over the 65cm minimum size limit. With their aggressive attacks and great fights, they are a lot of fun to catch.