View Full Version : Tomales Bay rookie here..

01-08-2009, 09:01 AM
I now have a nice place to stay in Tomales Bay but I have no fishing experience there. * I would love to learn all I need to know about halibut fishing. I read this site every day. *What are the main things I need to get before the next halibut season hits us? Rod & reel sizes, line size, lures, bait, scents, depth finder knowledge, anything!!! *Thanks for any help... [smiley=help.gif]

01-08-2009, 10:28 AM
The best thing I can tell you is contact a gentleman by the name of "65whaler" he knows Tomales very well and can get you up to speed with what you need, since he lives there hes the local expert

01-08-2009, 07:39 PM
hey there whaler77 - welcome to tomales bay. always glad to know another fisherman in the area. the halibut are best fished from april through october, the best fishing for me almost always having been in september. but any month that the water is warm and brown it's worth trying. almost all of the halibut are caught just north and south [not east!] of hog island which is a mile or so south of lawson's landing at the mouth. the biggest fish are usually caught on the bar of the mouth in august, september though i've hit some prize fish in between the bar and hog from time to time. sometimes in june, like this past summer, the fish will go all the way down to hearts desire - some ten miles south of hog. always worth a try in june.

one thing about tomales bay fishing is junk. the water can be full of eel grass etc. especially after the wind stinks it up the day before. be sure to use heavily redundant swivels or spinning baits will destroy rigs when the swivel chokes on grass.

this is my main hali rig, though there are plenty others that work: i used to waste flurorocarbon on these rigs, but i ruin several a day and now just use plain old mono. no noticed reduction in catch. i have 30# sea green mono on any decent reel and tie all my rigs with 40#. the bay is shallow enough that a large bail is unnecessary. a lightweight 7" ugly stick always does the trick for me. i've been using even lighter ones recently to make for drama.

if there's no wind troll as slow as your boat will go otherwise a drift is good. as a rule the flood tide performs best, but not always. i put a barrel swivel before my snap swivel and put a 7-12" line to as little weight as i need to drag the bottom. the rig i put on the snap usually consists of a pretty standard halibut rig with a sliding 4 o hook on the line with a smaller hook hard tied at the end to stop it. only difference is that i skirt the hook with a green or white hoochie. i tie this rig at about 30" to a three inch bead swivel. most people call this overkill, but all other swivels fail pretty quickly in junk, and if you're spinning bait as i do, the rig will be fouled beyond repair within minutes.

for dead bait fishing i skull hook the bait with the slider so the hook comes out the bony part of a herring or anchovy between the eyes. i then put the anchor hook through the spine near the tail. then cinch the slider hook down til the bait has some curve to it, then pull the hoochie skirt down into the nose of the bait fish. drag it in the water at your trolling speed. hopefully your weight sits lower in the water than your bait and your bait is spinning nicely. tweak the cinch as needed.

live bait fishing is popular in tomales bay. personally i do fine with frozen stuff, but when i fish the bar i like to have the live option. i use the same rig as above for live bait, but i use a much lighter swivel since the live bait doesn't spin. i either tie live rigs with no hoochie or scoot the hoochie up onto the swivel as i like the real thing to be bare naked. for live bait, you will want to get some little bait rods and stock up on sabiki rigs with real small hooks. i like to set children to work jigging up live bait while i set up frozen rigs. as soon as something is caught, i toss the frozen and hook the live guys onto the slider hook leaving the anchor hook floating near the tail. similar hooking technique though instead of between the eyes the hook is further forward in their beak. [between the eyes will 'brain' them]. my favorite are the jack smelt, sardines are great if you can catch them [an august luxury]. perch are less sexy but they last forever.

i will also cast swimbaits and such things while my bait is dragging and sometimes that's the ticket ... though very rarely. you'll probably catch more sharks than halibut like this but it keeps it fun.

let me know when you start chasing them. i'm out there a couple weekends a month in the summer so maybe i'll see you. pm me again if you have other questions. good luck.

here's a pic of a similar rig minus the hootchie. imagine the weight is attached to a barrel swivel just north of the snap:

http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.turman-tackle.com/jpgs/Rigging/Halibut-LG.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.turman-tackle.com/html/Rigging.html&usg=__AgXakvAEaIRaj2gwBNeJ_SPCLQA=&h= 660&w=660&sz=50&hl=en&start=2&um=1&tbnid=h0_yPWMxb IR7xM:&tbnh=138&tbnw=138&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dhalibut%2Brig%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26cl ient%3Dfirefox-a%26rls%3Dorg.mozilla:en-US:official%26sa%3DN

01-08-2009, 07:46 PM
thanks 65 Whaler I knew you would be a huge help

01-09-2009, 09:59 AM
That is some great info! I have tried trolling the bay but the eel grass killed me. I am going to try some shiners this year from the docks and see how they do for me.

01-11-2009, 07:02 AM
Threads like this remind me why this is such a great board. Thanks again Whaler for all the info.

07-28-2018, 03:34 PM
If you head south, further into the bay near Marshall, there is not as much grass. Trolling near the yellow weather buoy or anything north of that towards the mouth, no bueno.

(Sorry for resurrecting an almost 10 year thread... but itís still pertinent for anybody targeting butts in Tomales)

That is some great info! I have tried trolling the bay but the eel grass killed me. I am going to try some shiners this year from the docks and see how they do for me.