Dungeness Bay and Dungeness Spit is one of my favorite places to anchor and drift for halibut. As you can see, the chart above shows several great places to try for halibut. One of my seminar attendees from last year recently called to thank me for showing him where to anchor near Dungenesess Spit. He regaled me with stories of catching a 135, 90 and 70 pound pounder. Wow I said, that’s pretty good. Last season I also caught some nice halibut not far off the spit.
In year’s past I’ve drifted the Traffic Separation Zone, always with an eye and ear trained on approaching vessels. One foggy morning an aircraft carrier appeared suddenly, giving us concern because of our close proximity to the giant warship. So beware and watch out for ships while fishing in this zone. Don’t anchor here, as the ships ALWAYS have right away. When drifting, be prepared to reel up quickly and exit the zone to a safe distance.
The chart shows several great spots to fish halibut while staying clear of the separation zone. In these areas feel free to anchor, but still keep a watchful eye on approaching vessels. On more than one occasion I’ve seen large vessels outside of the traffic separation zone.
Best depths vary, like most halibut fishing areas. During heavy tidal flows try fishing in closer to the spit, from 90 to 180-feet. Or look for the small underwater plateaus that offer shallower depths. When tides are light, meaning not much exchange from one tide to the next, go deep.
The big tides push bait into shallow areas, especially around underwater structure. This also brings the halibut into these zones. Whether anchoring or drifting, the halibut will be most active with a 1.8 to 2.5 mph current. If the current lessens, remember to bang the bottom with your leads or jigheads. This stirs up the bottom, sending sediment down current and puts an enticing sound into the water. The action also brings your bait or lures to life and often causes halibut off the bite to instinctively become more aggressive. During slack tides the halibut will bite more out of aggression or to protect their territory. They will also try to lay on the bait or jig to save it for later, when they go back to feeding. This is why so many halibut get snagged on their white underside. For years I never believed this, but after watching closely while guiding last summer, it continued to occur, mostly during the slack water, when they just did not want to bite.
Regardless of the stage of tide, it is always good to maintain contact with the bottom, by dropping your lead or jighead on the bottom and banging it a few times. Sound travels 11 times farther underwater and is five times louder. The vibrations from banging the bottom reach the halibut’s lateral line, where thousands of tiny microscopic, hair-like nerve endings make up the lateral line. A halibut’s lateral line enables fish to feel without touching, and helps them target in on the noise and right to your baits.
Good luck on the opener,