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Learn about Atlantic halibut

The Atlantic halibut is the largest flatfish, or flounder, in the world. Read on to learn more about the halibut, including tips for fishing.

Appearance

  • Atlantic halibut can grow to be quite large. Males can reach up to 185 inches, and the largest halibut recorded was 615 pounds in 1917. Atlantic halibut's colors can range from dark brown to light gray. The younger the fish, the more speckled the skin color is.
  • The largest flatfish in the world, the Atlantic halibut is a right-sided flounder. The mouth is large with sharp, curved teeth inside.
Atlantic halibut

Atlantic halibut facts

  • Species name: Hippoglossus hippoglossus
  • The Atlantic halibut feasts primarily on cod, haddock, and other groundfish species. They have been known to eat lobsters, clams, even seabirds in some areas. Predators of the halibut are seals, the Greenland shark, and dogfish.
  • Large Atlantic halibut can produce over 2 million eggs in one season. They spawn once between April and early September. The newborns hatch at half an inch long. Once they grow to an inch, the left eye migrates to the right side.
  • The young drift on currents for months after hatching. It brings them closer to shallow waters as they migrate to the bottom of the ocean. Once at the bottom, Atlantic halibut tend to stay there. They rise to the surface now and then for food.
  • Atlantic halibut live on the bottom of the ocean, typically on sand, gravel, or clay. Likely the only way you can see a halibut is by going deep sea diving.
  • There is no commercial fishery for the diminished Atlantic halibut species. Recreational fishing is encouraged after reviewing the regulations.
  • NOAA Fisheries manages the Atlantic halibut in federal waters. This is based on recommendations from the New England Fishery Management Council. The Division of Marine Fisheries manages the species in state waters.
  • Atlantic halibut are found all around the North Atlantic. This includes Greenland and Virginia in the western Atlantic and Iceland and Europe in the east.
Atlantic halibut distribution map

Angling tips

Most Atlantic halibut are very deep in the water. Make sure you have enough line to catch one. You should also have a strong boat rod, as halibut will put up a fight. They go after many kinds of bait.

Atlantic halibut has mild, white meat. The meat is translucent when raw but whitens when cooked. The meat is flaky and firm, but tender when cooked.

Additional Resources for Angling tips

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