Washington anglers have become so efficient at hooking halibut, state fish managers say they’ll keep the same catch quota but add more restrictions this year to maintain a season and prevent overharvesting the prized fishery.
This year’s quota for recreational halibut fisheries in Washington state is 214,110 pounds.
The halibut catch in Puget Sound has exceeded the area harvest quota for the past four years, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife managers say. In response, this year’s halibut season in Marine Areas 6-10 in central Puget Sound will be reduced to eight days from 11 days last year.
That fishery will run concurrently with the one in Marine Area 5 (Sekiu), where the season has been limited to eight days since 2013, Reed said.
The other major change this year is in Marine Areas 3 and 4 (La Push and Neah Bay), which will open May 7, May 12 and May 14, then close for a catch assessment.
Four days of fishing were scheduled last year before the catch assessment, but the state had to cancel the fourth day on short notice because the quota was taken sooner than ever before.
This year’s fishery in Marine Areas 3 and 4 will reopen in late May if sufficient capacity remains under the quota.
In Marine Area 1 off the mouth of the Columbia River, anglers also reached last year’s quota earlier than expected, although not until early June. That fishery is scheduled to run four days a week this year from May 1 until the quota is taken, or Sept. 30, whichever occurs first.
Anglers fishing the nearshore area of that fishery will again be allowed to retain bottomfish – such as flounder and sole – as well as halibut on days when the rest of the area is closed to halibut fishing.
In all marine areas open to halibut fishing, there is a one-fish daily catch limit and no minimum size restriction.
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