The conventional wisdom of California halibut fishing is to drift live baits over open expanses of sand.
The truth is that, like many ambush feeders, halibut prefer to hunt near structure. It’s for this reason that savvy anglers focus their efforts in “transition zones,” where sand meets some sort of hard structure. Flat bottom near rock jetties, bridge abutments, wrecks, artificial reefs or rocky kelp beds is an ideal choice for drifting live anchovies, sardines or squid on 20-pound-class tackle. Set up so your offerings pass close to the structure without hanging up. Fish will often be hanging down-current of the structure, waiting for small fish or crustaceans to be pushed their way. These same techniques work for other flatfish, such as flounder or fluke.