Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
March 27, 2015
Contact: Heather Reed, (360) 249-1202
2015 halibut seasons provide more fishing options in Columbia River area
OLYMPIA – Anglers can expect halibut fishing seasons this year to be similar to 2014 for the Puget Sound and coastal waters, with some additional fishing opportunities in the Columbia River area.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) sets halibut seasons using catch quotas adopted by the International Pacific Halibut Commission. The recreational catch quota for all of Washington’s areas is 214,110 pounds, the same as last year.
WDFW has revised the season structure for the Columbia River fishery to encourage anglers to fish for halibut there, said Heather Reed, WDFW coastal policy coordinator. The season for that area will run continuously instead of being divided between an early and late season.
“We continue to look for ways to increase fishing opportunity in the Columbia River area, where the catch has been below the quota in recent years,” Reed said.
Anglers will again be allowed to retain all bottomfish while having halibut onboard their boats in the nearshore section of the Columbia River fishery (Marine Area 1), which opens May 4 on a Monday-through-Wednesday schedule. Additional changes will allow anglers to retain flatfish – in addition to sablefish and Pacific cod – with halibut on board during the all-depth fishery that opens May 1 on a Thursday– through-Sunday schedule.
“In addition to some great halibut fishing, anglers can look forward to more opportunities to target bottomfish in Westport, Neah Bay and La Push,” Reed said.
For the first time since 2008, anglers will be allowed to fish for lingcod in the Westport area (south of 46⁰ 58’ N. Lat. and seaward of 30 fathoms) on Fridays and Saturdays, from July 1 through Aug. 31.
In addition, anglers fishing in the deep waters off the north coast in Marine areas 3 and 4, west of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line, will have more days to retain bottomfish, including lingcod. Starting this year, the 20 fathom (120 ft.) depth restriction will be in place May 9 through Labor Day, rather than May 1 through Sept. 30.
WDFW considers management measures for coastal sport bottomfish fisheries every two years through the Pacific Fishery Management Council process.
Regulations approved by the council include depth restrictions and area closures designed to reduce encounters with yelloweye and canary rockfish in coastal waters. Anglers are also prohibited from retaining those species – and bocaccio rockfish – in parts of Puget Sound.
Anglers are strongly encouraged to use a descending device to release these rockfish species, as well as other rockfish that anglers don’t intend to retain. Information about descending devices can be found on WDFW’s webpage at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/bottomfish/rockfish/mortality.html.
In all marine areas open to halibut fishing, there is a one-fish daily catch limit and no minimum size restriction. Anglers may possess a maximum of two fish in any form and must record their catch on a WDFW catch record card.
Changes to the effective date of the WDFW Sport Fishing Pamphlet will mean that the most up-to-date information on recreational halibut and bottomfish seasons and regulations will be found on the WDFW website http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/creel/halibut/.
2015 Puget Sound halibut seasons
- Marine Area 5: The fishery will be open May 15 and 16; Thursday through Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, May 21-24; and May 29 and 30.
- Marine Areas 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10: The fishery will be open May 8 and 9; May 15 and 16; Thursday through Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, May 21-24; and May 28-30.
- Marine Areas 11, 12, 13: These areas will remain closed to halibut fishing to protect threatened and endangered rockfish species.
2015 Pacific Coast halibut seasons
- Marine Area 1 (Columbia River): Marine Area 1 opens May 1, four days per week (Thursday–Sunday) until the subarea quota is taken, or Sept. 30, whichever occurs first. Five hundred pounds of the subarea quota is reserved for an incidental fishery in the nearshore area, which will be open May 4 on a Monday–Wednesday schedule, which are the days the all depth halibut fishery is closed. Coordinates for the nearshore fishery are available online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/creel/halibut/. The all depth quota is 9,754 pounds; the nearshore quota is 500 pounds.
- Marine Area 2 (Westport): Marine Area 2 opens May 3, two days per week (Sundays and Tuesdays) for three consecutive weeks (the season could close sooner if the quota is reached). The primary fishery is closed May 24 and 26 but will reopen May 31 or June 2 if sufficient quota remains and continue until the quota is achieved, or Sept. 30, whichever occurs first. The northern nearshore area will be open on May 3, and continue seven days per week until the nearshore quota is reached or Sept. 30, whichever occurs first. The quota for the primary fishery is 40,739 pounds; the quota for the northern nearshore fishery is 2,000 pounds.
- Marine Areas 3 and 4 (La Push and Neah Bay): Marine areas 3 and 4 open May 14, two days per week, Thursdays and Saturdays, through May 23 (as long as there is sufficient quota). This area will be closed May 28 and 30. If there is available quota, the fishery will re-open June 4 and/or 6. Additional days could be added (Thursdays and Saturdays), depending on the amount of quota available. The areas would remain open until the quota is reached or Sept. 30, whichever occurs first. The combined quota for both areas is 108,030 pounds.