Pacific Halibut

Alaska boasts some of the best sport fishing in the world!  Here is a little information about pacific halibut.

General Facts: Pacific Halibut, Hippoglossus stenolepis

Pacific HalibutPacific halibut have elongated diamond-shaped bodies. One of their most interesting adaptations is the fact that both of their eyes are on their dark, upper side. Their dark color reflects the coloration of the ocean bottom for camouflage from predators and prey looking down. These large fish can appear almost invisible.  Their bottom-side is lighter so that it looks like the sky from below. This color adaptation allows halibut to avoid detection by both prey and predator. Their scales are small and buried in the skin which makes the skin look smooth. They are the second largest flatfish (only Atlantic halibut are larger), and can weigh up to 500 lb and grow to over 8 feet long.

Halibut prey on many fish and animal species including cod, pollock, shrimp, octopus, salmon, herring, and turbot. 

Pacific halibut reside on the continental shelf of the North Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea. Halibut live on or near the bottom of the ocean in water temperatures ranging from 37.4 to 46.4 degrees Fahrenheit. They are among the largest teleost fishes in the world, a large family of ray-finned fish of which halibut, tuna, and herring belong. Mature halibut congregate annually from November to March on spawning grounds on the edge of the continental shelf at a 600 to 1,499 ft depth.  Halibut migrate long distances in mostly clockwise migrations.  They also make more seasonal migrations from shallow summer feeding grounds to deeper winter spawning grounds.

Halibut hatch into a larva with an eye on each side of their head. They have an upright orientation.  After growing to about an inch long, their left eye begins to move over their nose to the right side of their head.  The dark color on their left side will be begin to fade to white as they begin to lay flat on the ocean bottom.  They have their full adult form by about six months of age.  They are about 1.5 inches long at this stage. They grow for five to seven years in shallower water.  Females grow faster than males. They can live up to 55 years. Age is estimated by counting rings in the otolith (ear bone).


The oldest:  55 years
Largest sport-caught: 459 lb near Unalaska, AK, 1996

Average Size: Most halibut are 15 to 20 lb, but fish over 150 lb are regularly caught

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