Drifting is the most popular way to take California halibut. The trick is to position the boat so that wind and current will carry it over the prime piece of bottom. Often, being a few feet off target can mean the difference between hooking up and getting skunked, so try to be methodical in your search. When a fish is caught, immediately mark the spot so you can make the same drift again, because halibut often congregate in large numbers.
During the drift, baits and lures should be hopped or bounced along the bottom. This requires a deft and sensitive touch, because you have to be ready to free-spool line as soon as you feel the fish grab your bait. You also have to be able to tell the difference between a fish picking up your bait and your rig bouncing over the rocks. When in doubt, free-spool line rather than risk missing a good fish.
If you locate a concentration of halibut, you can sometimes anchor in one spot and continue to catch fish. You can either let the baits sit on the bottom, “yo-yo” jig, or cast out and hop your baits and lures back to the boat. Or you can do both by keeping one rod in a holder while you cast with another.
Slow-trolling baits and jigs over the bottom is another good way to locate a halibut hot spot, and works well when light wind or current makes it difficult to drift.