Pacific Halibut are the largest flatfish in Family Pleuronectidae and very much resemble the Atlantic Halibut. Pacific Halibut and other flatfish are flattened laterally, and swim sideways, with one side facing down and the other facing up. Tagging operations have shown that some adult specimens travel 2,000 miles or more, though others appear to remain near the spawning grounds.
Pacific Halibut have diamond-shaped bodies. They are more elongated than most flatfishes, the width being about one-third of the length. It has a high arch in the lateral line over the pectoral fin, and a lunate, or crescent-shaped tail, which is different from other flat fishes. Small scales are embedded in the skin. Pacific Halibut have both eyes on their dark or upper sides. The color on the dark side varies, but tends to assume the coloration of the ocean bottom. The underside is lighter, appearing more like the sky from below. This color adaptation allows Pacific Halibut to avoid detection by both prey and predator. They are one of the largest flatfish (only surpassed by the closely related Atlantic Halibut), and can weigh up to 500 lb (230 kg) and grow to over 8 ft (2.4 m) long.
Sport fishing for Pacific Halibut in Alaska is a very popular activity; it is a strong fighter and one of the world’s largest bony fish with an impressive yield of firm, white flesh. Pacific Halibut taken by anglers are generally 15 to 20 lb (6.8 to 9.1 kg) in weight; but fish over 150 lb (68 kg) are regularly caught. Anglers use stout saltwater gear to harvest Pacific Halibut. Most anglers prefer to fish with bait, especially herring, but also squid, octopus, cod pieces, or other small bottom fish. To get the bait down to the Pacific Halibut, it is usually fished on a wire spreader or a sliding-sinker rig with sinker size 4 oz (113 g) to 4 lb (1.81 kg), depending on such factors as depth and current.
The Pacific Halibut is found on the continental shelf of the North Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea. Fishing for the Pacific Halibut is mostly concentrated in the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea, off the west coast of Canada. Small Halibut catches are reported in coastal Washington, Oregon, and California. Pacific Halibut is broken up into 10 regularity management areas.