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August 10, 2022

Alaskan Fishing Adventures // About Alaskan Fishing

How Big Does Halibut Get & Why Does It Matter?

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Did you know that the halibut can grow up to 8 feet long and weigh up to 500 pounds?

Whether you’re curious about your favorite fish or you’re looking for fun facts to share with your friends and family, today you’ll learn about the size of the halibut and why it matters. 

So, if you’re curious about this impressive fish, read on!


Alaskan halibut is one of the largest species of flatfish. They can grow to be 8 feet long and 5 feet wide and weigh up to 500 pounds. 

Adult halibut have few predators — namely sharks, marine mammals, and humans; while they feed on smaller fish, squid, and crustaceans. Halibut are bottom-dwellers and prefer to inhabit waters at least 600 feet deep.

Many people consider halibut a delicacy and highly valued for its white, flaky flesh. While halibut can reach 500 pounds, the majority of halibut caught commercially are between 10 and 50 pounds. Larger fish are generally sold to restaurants or sold whole by fishmongers. 

Halibut can be prepared in various ways, including grilling, baking, frying, and smoking.

Family members catching halibut in Alaska

Halibut Growth

Halibut are found in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and characterized by their large size, with adults typically weighing between 15 and 150 pounds. 

Halibut are relatively slow-growing fish, taking up to 16 years to reach their full size. In their first year of life, halibut only grow to about one pound. However, they gain weight rapidly in subsequent years, reaching 15 pounds by the time they are four years old. 

By adulthood, halibut can weigh more than 100 pounds. Although they are slow-growing fish, halibut have a long lifespan, with some individuals living for more than 30 years.

Halibut Size

Halibut is distinguished by its large size and unusual life cycle, which involves a period of metamorphosis in which they change from an upright juvenile stage to a later stage in which they lie on their sides. 

Halibut are also notable because they grow at different rates depending on gender. Male halibut grow significantly slower than the females; so while males typically don’t reach 100 pounds during their lifetime, females can grow up to five times their size.

Halibut Population

Halibut populations are healthy, thanks partly to a large number of eggs female halibut produce. According to the NOAA, a “50-pound female halibut makes about 500,000 eggs, and a 250-pound female can produce 4 million eggs.” 

Once fertilized, eggs hatch into larval halibut, which then drift in the open ocean for several months before returning to shallower waters to grow into adults. 

Thanks to their large number of eggs, halibut populations can rebound quickly after being impacted by fisheries or other environmental factors. As a result, halibut is a sustainable seafood source.


Generally speaking, Pacific halibut weigh around 25 – 30 pounds when they reach maturity. However, there’s a great deal of variation in size among individual fish.

As previously mentioned, female halibut tend to be larger than males. Plus, fish living in colder waters tend to be larger than those in warmer waters. Age is obviously a factor too: younger halibut are typically smaller than older fish. 

Given all of these variables, it isn’t easy to provide a definitive answer to the question of how big halibut get. However, 30 pounds is a reasonable estimate of the average weight of an adult Pacific halibut.


When it comes to halibut, size does matter — at least when trying to determine the best fish to eat. Halibut weighing between 30 and 80 pounds are generally considered the best-eating fish, as they offer a good balance of flavor and texture.

As you learned, larger halibut are usually female fish, and while they may be meatier, they are often less flavorful. In fact, most guides recommend releasing larger fish back into the wild to help maintain a healthy population. 

Now that you know more about the size of our Alaskan halibut, you’ll be able to choose the right fish for your next dish (plus way more fun at dinner parties!).

For wild-caught Alaskan halibut that you’ll love, order online from North Star Halibut.

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