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These bottom-dwelling flatfish are yearlong residents in sand and mud-bottomed coastal waters, found from the surf zone to about 300 feet deep, from Washington State to Baja California. The area of greatest abundance is southern California and northern Baja. California halibut, with a maximum length of 60 inches and weight to 72 pounds, are smaller than Pacific halibut. Ambush predators with both eyes usually located on the left side of the head, California halibut are non-schooling, unpredictable, elusive fish -- the "bread and butter" fish of California's nearshore groundfish fishery.
Twenty-two inches is the minimum legal length for commercial sale of California halibut. In the last decade, California fishermen have provided an average 1.1 million pounds of this mild-flavored, white-meat fish to consumers. In normal ocean cycles, more than 70% of the catch originates in central and southern California waters. Because of their economy of operation and consistent ability to catch fish, gillnets historically provided most of California's halibut catch. California halibut are also caught with hook and line and large-mesh trawl in designated areas.