Michael Cushman of Port Clyde Fishermen's Coop on F/V Ryleefinn with a big, beautiful halibut

Maine Halibut Season is Here! But not for Long

Spring in Maine is something of an anomaly.  Unlike the rest of the country, which gets soft breezes and warm sunshine, Maine gets mud season, and then, miraculously, summer.  But, we do get halibut season, each May, and that makes up for the lack of warm weather, at least partly.

Halibut season typically runs from early-mid May through early-mid June.  It’s a tightly regulated season, each fisherman receives only 25 tags, which are, quite literally, plastic tags that must be attached to the fish as soon as it’s caught.  If you’ve bought halibut in the grocery store, it’s probable you’ve purchased pacific halibut.  Atlantic and pacific halibut are nearly identical in taste, but the halibut landed in Maine is caught under a state licensed fishery.  Atlantic halibut are generally smaller than their west coast cousins, and, in Maine, halibut fishing is generally a supplement to lobster-fishing; halibut are caught on trawls, and so many lobster fishermen set their trawls as they head out to go lobster fishing, and then check them when they come in.  The fish themselves are flat, and kinda funny looking, they look a little like an overgrown flounder; with one eye rotated around.  There is a  minimum size requirement of 41”, there is no maximum size.  In small Maine fishing communities, it’s not uncommon to be able to buy halibut directly from fishermen at the dock who may cut (fillet or steak) the fish right in front of you.

Quite honestly, there are few things that can rival a freshly landed halibut for taste.  The fish is firm, white, and flaky.  It’s mild enough that your non fish-loving friends or kids will like it, but flavorful and versatile enough that it will impress the most discerning home chefs.  And by the time halibut season winds down in Maine, summer weather is on its way, mud season a distant memory.

Learn more about halibut, here