One of the most exciting fish species to target throughout the Spring and Summer months has got to be our California Halibut. These fish offer a fun pursuit, good fight, and are excellent table fare. At the beginning of this summer, we headed over to Catalina Island with Christian Sekas of Sekas Sportfishing to try our hand at some shallow water Halibut fishing.
While there are many different techniques that anglers utilize when Halibut fishing, a consistent favorite of many has got to be fishing live bait on the trap rig. This rig incorporates your standard J-Hook used when fishing a live bait, but in addition to that, a stinger treble hook is attached to the rig as well. Your leader with the trap rig attached will then be tied on to a three-way swivel that has your weight and main line attached to it.
Each angler will tell you that they have a favorite knot for attaching the stinger hook onto their trap rig, but we like to use the Snell. By using the Snell knot and leaving enough tag end to tie on your stinger treble hook, you ensure that all your hook components are attached to your main line.
There are a few main reasons that we choose to fish the trap rig while targeting Halibut. The first and most important to us being that you are going to have a much higher Bite-to-Hook ratio with the addition of the stinger hook. Additionally, the trap rig allows you to fish a bigger bait and have confidence that if you get a bite, you are still likely to hook the fish even if it does not engulf the entire bait.
We find that this rig is most effective to use on the drift when you are covering large areas of bottom. If you are anchored or stagnant in the water, it may be more effective to use a casting bait so that you can cover more ground. Furthermore, you must remember that while you may be getting fewer bites, you are trading quantity for quality, but that’s not to say a smaller fish won’t eagerly hop onto your live bait either.
It’s important to keep your options open when fishing for Halibut, and this is just one of many techniques that can be extremely effective under the right conditions. Be sure to match your hook size to the size of the bait and use an appropriately sized weight depending on your drift speed. Give this rig a shot if you haven’t already, and good luck on the water!
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