May 7th Area 6 Halibut Opener Results

Yesterday I launched at John Wayne Marina at 4 a.m. thinking I would beat the crowd. Wrong, or so I thought when I arrived to a line at the boat ramp and nearly full parking lot. What I did not realize at that early morning time was the fact that this marina would experience the busiest halibut opener ever, but first my rant.

In March WDFW gave the Tribes a 48 hour opener for halibut. Okay, I can live with that, as it gives enough time for halibut to move into the area and “repopulate” prime halibut grounds. Last Sunday, May 1 and Monday May 2, WDFW gave the Tribes another 48 hour opener. Why?

Their second 48 hour opener, just days before the sport fish opener was a HUGE success for the Tribes. They literally got thousands of pounds of halibut from Eastern Bank, Hein Bank, Partridge Bank,  Dallas Bank, Coyote Bank, Dungeness Bank, Freshwater Bay and other areas as well. This second opening combined with horrible tides and currents made Saturday’s Area 6 halibut opener a massive failure for the majority of boats. This is the first year in many years that no halibut hit the deck on my boat on opening day and I was not alone, in fact my failure was in the majority. When I returned to the marina at 11:30 a.m. fish checkers had counted just six halibut.

We came in early, as did dozens of other boats because the wind kicked up in a hurry, the start of a major wind storm that cut short the opening. I should also point out, the Tribe’s first scheduled opener in March had a major storm, so WDFW issued an emergency change in their season for safety reasons. Of course I agree with this, as nobody, Tribal, commercial or sport should have to risk their life or property for fish. But it seems WDFW fish managers really don’t care about sports anglers. Fact, they never cancel our season because of weather. Fact, they always schedule our season around bad tides in hopes we will not catch many fish. Fact, they would prefer we don’t catch fish. Fact, when we don’t catch fish they have fish managers who invent new math to say we did catch fish.

Do you think I’m wrong?

Back to John Wayne Marina. Because WDFW fish managers decided to open La Push, Neah Bay, Sekiu, Area 6, 7 & 9 all on the same day, with just one day instead of two, they figured it would spread out the fishing pressure. Wrong! Many anglers yesterday said they would have normally gone to the ocean as in year’s past, but not for just one day, instead of the usual opener, then one day closed followed by another open day. Instead, pressure was at an all time record at John Wayne Marina. In the morning when I arrived I thought I got a late start. In reality I got an extremely early start. Trucks and trailers filled every vacant space, sides of roads and anywhere anyone could find to park trucks and trailers, all the way from the marina up to nearly Highway 101. With trucks and trailers so far from the marina it bottle necked the entire process. Average take out time was two hours.

Thanks again WDFW, for nothing. It’s time to change the rules in Washington State from a “derby” style opener to a punch card that allows halibut anglers to spread out pressure and choose safe days to go fishing, without fear of massive crowds and gale force winds.

Perhaps our new director will see the logic in this and help make the needed changes. There’s a meeting about this very topic on May23rd in Port Townsend. I will keep you posted. Rant over.




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 and host at Lets Talk Outdoors @
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16 Responses to May 7th Area 6 Halibut Opener Results

  1. Richard Bumgarner says:

    Great post. I am going to use it in a letter to the Governor, the reps, and Unsworth. Dick PS it too me 2.5 hours to get out AFTER I lined up for the harbor.

    Sent from my iPad



  2. Ken says:

    I do not want punch cards it will be a lottery then


    • A punch card system like British Columbia currently has is not a lottery, it is opposite. Anglers would choose when they fish and what they keep. Instead of just eight to 11 days of fishing, anglers could fish when they want. If for instance, you filled your punch card you could still take friends, relatives etc. With the punch card system it would eliminate having to fish bad tides, bad weather, weekends etc. Fish when you want. That would be much better than what we currently have, which sucks.


      • Ken says:

        If there is a quota then when said quota is reached then season will close
        You cannot give everyone a tag as quota only last for a couple days now so you would need to limit tags to manage quota or only 1 fish a year


  3. Big dog says:

    Amen brother! I know a guy who watched the unload from the tribal opener he said tons of fish being sold at John Wayne.. Tides sucked.. Wind sucked later and not many fish around.


  4. Steve says:

    Sue the state for our license fee’s.. This Indian crap is getting out of hand


  5. Bob Triggs says:

    Thanks John for the truth.


  6. rory says:

    I absolutely agree with this. You’d think the safety factor alone would be enough to spur the change. I actually don’t go out anymore for the halibut days. It’s just too crazy. Fortunately I live near Canada and am able to take advantage of their halibut rules – which are based on common sense.


  7. Chris Wells says:

    Puget Sound Anglers North Regional VP Steve Chamberlin, his wife and I, with the help of a grant from WDFW, handed out free Seaqualizer descender devices on the Halibut opener yesterday. We contacted 70 plus boats fishing on Middle, Hein, Eastern, Partridge and Salmon banks. Ten Halibut were all we counted, one boat had two. The current was ripping most of the time. It seemed like tough sledding, but most folks were happy to be out. Pretty sad numbers though.


    • In S.E. Alaska it is the law for all charter boats to have a rockfish descender aboard. I also carry one on my personal boat here in Washington. To date, I have not caught a rockfish on my halibut gear while using 16/0 circle hooks. Use small hooks and your chance of accidentally hooking rockfish goes up exponentially. Hopefully state fisheries managers will get smart and change our seasons and allow us more time on the water during less dangerous weather and better tides.

      Thanks for your volunteer efforts.


  8. Gary says:

    I guess that made our limit of 4 halibut up to #60 a great success on the opener.


  9. Scott Melton says:

    Our fish and game department is and has been corupt for years. Sportsmen and women pay for everything then are told they have no right to participate.


  10. Robert says:

    Great posts. What does it take to get WDFW to wake up? Or do we have to boycot fishing licenses next year and start taking money out of their coffers to get their attention?


  11. Jeff Bott says:

    What you said is all right on John. The only thing I would add is that WDFW granted them the days to fish. Its always been my opinion that they fish when they want and how they want. If WDFW doesn’t agree with them they do it anyway.


  12. Alan williams says:

    I agree with John and the other bloggers, there needs to be changes made in the way seasons are set.. It does not seem fair that the tribes are allowed to carpet bomb the resource the the day before we get our turn. They do the same with crabs. I to would like to see a punch card system. So what if it does become a lottery, at least the lucky ones would get a chance to catch a fish, and to do it in good weather. With the present system we all loose,


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