2015 Washington State Halibut Fishing Season

From our friend, Dave Croonquist

Eastern Region (MA 6-10)

May 8-9
May 15-16
May 21-24
May 28-30

Western Region (MA 5)
May 15-16
May 21-24
May 29-30

Here’s a short update about the Puget Sound halibut meeting held today in Olympia. The meeting was run by Michele Culver and Heather Reed.

There was an overview of the 2014 Puget Sound catch estimate. Final numbers aren’t in due to problems with the methodology being used. Early numbers would indicate that we are getting better at catching halibut and our 2014 catch rate was probably higher than 2013. WDFW has requested a grant to do an intensive sampling effort this spring to ground-truth the estimated effort from the phone survey. More information will be coming out later.

There was discussion on the 2A Total Allowed Catch (TAC) and subarea quotas. The report was the 2A was going to get 750,000 lbs of halibut due to declining biomass levels. WA, CA, and OR were able to use our restricted fisheries seasons and had the IPHC give 2A an additional 220,000 lbs of halibut giving 2A a total of 970,000 lbs – a 10,000 lb increase over 2013. The breakdown of the 2A quota is 339,500 lbs for the tribal fisheries and 630,500 lbs for the non-tribal fisheries. The non-tribal breakdown is 203,912 lbs for the commercial fishery, WA sport gets 214,110 lbs (same as last year), OR sport gets 187,259 lbs, and CA sport gets 25,220 lbs.

The 2015 season dates were discussed. Because of our estimated harvest in 2014, we will be fishing 11 days in MA 6-10 and 8 days in MA 5. The season dates are:
There will be some overlap on the ocean fishery days. That should help spread out some of the pressure.

The proposal of going to a set season and an annual bag limit was discussed. The folks fishing the ocean did not want a general season structure and made a good argument for maintaining their current structure. There will be a meeting with WDFW to discuss possibilities of going to a season structure and an annual bag limit for the Puget Sound fisheries. Michele Culver will be doing a poll about possible dates for a meeting to start the discussion. It will not be easy. The IPHC sideboards are pretty tight and, as is the case when the feds are involved, the state can be more restrictive in its regulations, but it can’t be more liberal. That said, the IPHC and NMFS set the season dates for fishing and the allowed poundage. WDFW, per Michele’s acknowledgement today, can set the seasons within the federal framework. At this time, we don’t know what might be possible. We could well end up with the same seasons we’ve had for the past 6 years or we could get an annual personal limit and more time to catch it. Should be interesting discussions.
Dave Croonquist

About John L. Beath

John Beath is a writer, photographer, videographer, blogger, tackle manufacturer & Captain at Whaler's Cove Lodge in Southeast Alaska. He is also owner of www.halibut.net and host at Lets Talk Outdoors @ www.youtube.com/jbeath
This entry was posted in Puget Sound Halibut Fishing, Washington Halibut Fishing, Washington Halibut Regs and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to 2015 Washington State Halibut Fishing Season

  1. Thanks for the summary. Quick question…

    “The folks fishing the ocean did not want a general season structure and made a good argument for maintaining their current structure.”

    What was that argument? At first glance, it would seem like ocean fisherman would WANT an annual bag limit because of unpredictable ocean conditions on the limited halibut days we have now.

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  2. I agree with Rory as a fellow Washington fisherman. I would love to be able to fish Hali between blackmouth and salmon season. The annual season would lessen those who catch “small” hali from keeping it in fear that it may be the only chance to keep one. I would like to have the option to fish a hali instead of salmon at times. Alot of times I expend vacation just to have a chance at a thursday fish.

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  3. I agree with Rory as a fellow Washington fisherman. I would love to be able to fish Hali between blackmouth and salmon season. The annual season would lessen those who catch “small” hali from keeping it in fear that it may be the only chance to keep one. I would like to have the option to fish a hali instead of salmon at times. Alot of times I expend vacation just to have a chance at a thursday fish.

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  4. Brian Gibson says:

    I like the idea of the annual bag limit as well. As much money as we spend fishing it just makes sense to go the bag limit route. Most folks don’t have the time to go to numerous openers for different species, especially if they are going to Neah Bay. I used to run charter boats so I’m sure it would make it better for those guys as well.

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  5. Bryan Adams says:

    I have thought for years that an individual bag limit would be the way to go. You get a punch card that allows you to get 10 Kings, 20 Coho, all the Humpies you can catch,and 6 Halibut. In reality, that’s more fish than anyone really uses. With the salmon, you can catch them in the salt or on the river. But that’s all you get. Open season from May through October. Fish for what you want, when you want. Increase the license fee to 100.00 to help pay for more enforcement to mandatory check points on the water. Or something along these lines. What are the thoughts on this?

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