If you’re wanting to catch Halibut in California the San Francisco bay area is an excellent place to fish. But one may wonder where exactly in the Bay Area is a good place to fish for halibut? Based on personal experience and some good advice from Bay Tackle in El Cerrito I’ve narrowed down the best places to catch halibut in the bay area.
The best places to catch Halibut in the San Francisco bay area are as follows: Alameda rock wall, Oyster point, Paradise Pier, Berkeley Flats, Alcatraz Island and Angel Island.
These spots are not in any particular order and fishing can be better in different areas throughout the week. To find out what areas of the bay would be best for halibut fishing in any particular week I recommend checking in with the facebook groups Nor Cal Fishing Report, FishAholics and Bay Area Fishing and Outdoors.
Using Facebook groups to find Halibut in the San Francisco Bay
Utilizing the local facebook groups is a great way to find out where the Halibut bite is hot on any particular week. These groups are typically very active with fishermen who will be fishing throughout the week and can give first hand advice on where to go and best techniques.
Catching California Halibut at Oyster Point in the San Francisco Bay
If you’re looking to catch halibut early in the year Oyster Point should be one of the first places you fish. California Halibut start to come into the San Francisco bay to spawn around March and Oyster point is typically where you will find them. Oyster Point offers a public pier where you can fish without a license and a boat launch if you’re planning to fish by boat. If you’re planning to launch your boat it is important to note that the launch fee is $13.00 and the machine only takes exact change, be sure to take $10 plus three $1.00 bills.
California Halibut Fishing Methods at Oyster Point
The most common halibut fishing methods at oyster point are trolling and drifting live bait when fishing from a boat. If you are fishing from the pier using a drop shot method with a swim bait will work great.
Fishing for California Halibut from a boat
You typically see boaters trolling anchovies, herring, squid and hoochies attached with a dodger or flasher along with a torpedo weight or ball weight. This method works great for early season halibut and is the typical method for halibut fishing in this area.
Drifting live bait isn’t so common at Oyster point early in the year because you typically can’t purchase live bait from pier 47 in San Francisco till later in the spring. If you are able to catch live bait then drifting is still a great method around oyster point.
Fishing for California Halibut at the Pier
If you are planning to spend your day on the pier fishing for halibut your best bet would be to use a drop shot rig attached with a swim bait. You should experiment with different size and color swim baits. It would also be a good idea to add some scents or tip the hook with a small piece of squid to add some extra smells in the water.
When using this method make sure to cover as much ground as possible by casting in numerous areas and slowly retrieving. Don’t forget to try along the pier pylons as well. Just make sure to be courteous to other people fishing and avoid other people’s lines.
Catching California Halibut at the Alameda Rock wall in the San Francisco Bay Area
The Alameda rock wall offers great early season halibut fishing and remains good even when the halibut fishing really picks up around late April through July.
It is a good idea to fish around the Alameda rock wall early in the year starting around March. You won’t see the Halibut in big numbers but the Alameda rock wall and Oyster Point is where you will typically catch them if you put in the time.
The Alameda rock wall has a free boat launch but be aware that during low tides the ramp and area around the ramp can get very low. You will risk getting stuck if you try to launch and or pull your boat out on a low tide depending on what kind of vessel you are using.
California Halibut Fishing Methods at the Alameda Rock Wall
The most common halibut fishing methods at the Alameda rock wall are trolling and drifting live bait when fishing from a boat. If you are fishing from shore then using a drop shot method with a swim bait will work great.
Fishing for California halibut from a boat
When fishing from a boat you can troll using anchovies, herring, squid or hoochies attached to a dodger or flasher along with a torpedo weight or ball weight. This is a common method earlier in the year but can be used even during peak halibut fishing around May through August.
When live anchovies are available at pier 47 many fishermen will switch over to drifting live bait around the Alameda rock wall. You will typically drift fish in this area when the winds are strong and the water is too rough around Berkeley Flats.
The Alameda rock wall is always an area you want to keep in mind and check periodically when you are out halibut fishing.
California halibut fishing from shore
When fishing from shore at the alameda rock wall using a drop shot method and swim baits is a great strategy. Try using different types of swim baits including different sizes and colors. It is also a good idea to add scents to your swim baits or tip the hook with a small piece of squid.
The strategy here is to cast, slowly reel in and cast again just a couple feet from the last cast. After covering that area take a few steps along the rock wall and repeat this method. Do this method all the way up and down the rock wall and you are sure to get some bites eventually.
Catching California Halibut at Berkeley Flats in the San Francisco Bay Area
Berkeley flats is one of the main Halibut fishing areas in the San Francisco Bay. This spot offers excellent halibut fishing. Berkeley flats is accessible to boats only and here you will most likely see the majority of the party boats and sports fishermen.
This area is easily accessible from Emeryville, Berkeley and Richmond boat ramps. It is also a very short ride from pier 47 where you can buy your live bait.
The Berkeley flats is notorious for winds and rougher water. When the winds pick up or the current is moving too fast it’s best to move to a new area. Recommended areas would be the back side of Angel island, Alameda Rock Wall, Oracle arena and the Paradise pier area. All these spots offer calmer waters and better drifting when the big water is too rough.
Halibut Fishing Methods at the Berkeley Flats
The main method of fishing is drift fishing with live anchovies. You can purchase your live anchovies at J&P Bait. All you need to do is pull your boat up to the side of the pier, open your live bait tank and let them know how many scoops. The Prices run from $35 for a small scoop and $55 for a large scoop. In my experience 1 small scoop is plenty for 1 to 2 fishermen.
To drift an anchovy use fluorocarbon line attached to a 3 way swivel. Attach the 3 way swivel to your main line at the bottom swivel attach a 18 inch to 24 inch fluorocarbon lead. At the end of this lead you will secure your ball weight. It’s recommended to use a 16 oz weight. From the middle swivel you will attach your live bait lead. This fluorocarbon lead should be around 2 to 3 feet attached to a live bait hook. You can also attach a stinger hook at the end.
When drifting at the Berkeley flats you want to drift no faster than 2 miles an hour. You want a nice slow drift. If the current is moving your vessel too fast you can throw out a drift sock to slow you down. If this still doesn’t work it would be best to check some of the other spots on this list that offer cover from the wind.
Catching California Halibut at Alcatraz Island in the San Francisco Bay Area
Alcatraz Island is another great spot to catch Halibut in the bay area. This area is also only accessible via boat. Alcatraz island is often the first stop for boaters after picking up their live bait at pier 47. When Halibut fishing here it is common practice to drift the back side of Alcatraz island.
The most common techniques for fishing this area is drift fishing / bounce balling live anchovies. Give this area a try for a while, if you’re not having any luck head over to Berkeley flats.
Catching California Halibut at Angel Island in the San Francisco Bay Area
Angel Island can also offer great halibut fishing. When Fishing here try drifting or trolling the south side of the island. The bounce ball technique / drift fishing are the best methods here.
If the halibut fishing is slow in this area it is just a short boat ride from Paradise, Alcatraz island and Berkeley Flats. Many boaters will jump around these locations based on the wind / currents or how the halibut bite is in a particular area.
Catching California Halibut Around Paradise Pier in the San Francisco Bay Area
This is an excellent halibut fishing location. You will often see the party boats in this area as well. This location offers good fishing for both boaters and fishermen from shore. If you plan to fish from the pier at Paradise beach park the fee is 5$ per vehicle. If you plan to fish from a boat or kayak the most common methods of fishing are drift fishing and trolling.
The waters here are typically calmer and usually loaded with bait fish. When you find the bait balls drift and troll around them. This method would be your best bet.
When fishing from the pier use a drop shot with swim baits. Try different sizes and colors. Cover as much ground as possible and don’t forget to fish around the piers pylons. Also do some research this is just one of many methods for catching Halibut.
Other Areas Around the San Francisco Bay Area to Catch California Halibut
A few other places you should check out when fishing around the San Francisco Bay Area are around the Richmond Marina, Point Pinole and Loch Lomond Marina Park.
Halibut Fishing At The Richmond Marina
This area offers a lot of shallow shore fishing. Casting swim baits with a jig head or a drop shot method is a great idea. The Richmond marina offers a lot of locations to Halibut fish.
Try fishing near Barbara and Jay Vincent Park, Lucretia Edwards Shoreline Park and Harbor way near the ferry terminal.
Halibut Fishing At Loch Lomond Marina Park
When fishing for Halibut in this location walk along the long rock wall casting swim baits. Cover as much ground as possible and you should run into some halibut. This area also offers a grocery store and deli. It’s a great location to spend the day.
Halibut Fishing At The Point Pinole Pier
Point Pinole Pier can be excellent for halibut fishing from time to time. At this park you will see people wading in the water and fishing from the pier. When the bite is hot you will also see boaters in the area fishing as well.
Please note that from April to October there is a $3 fee to park your vehicle. It is also a lengthy walk of about 1.2 miles to reach the pier, so pack your fishing gear accordingly. You will see a lot of fishermen with wagons or bikes to haul their gear.
Point Pinole Regional Shoreline offers a shuttle service but this service is temporarily suspended till further notice. For more information about the park you can visit their website here.
The San Francisco Bay Area is one of the best Halibut fishing locations in the state and for the past several years the Halibut bite has been amazing.
There are tons of different fishing methods for catching halibut so do your research. Check the facebook groups, search google and youtube.
You now know where to find the Halibut around the bay area. Try out these areas, put in your time and you will for sure catch some halibut.