The halibut fishing season in Puget Sound will be shorter this year, but anglers fishing off the state’s southern coast will get an extra weekend day to fish. The seasons were established after the International Pacific Halibut Commission adopted catch quotas for 2013.
This year’s recreational catch quota for all of Washington is 214,110 pounds, the same as last year’s quota.
Even though the Puget Sound quota is the same as last year, fishing time will be curtailed to compensate for exceeding last year’s quota, said Heather Reed, coastal policy coordinator for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.
“Catch rates were up again in Puget Sound last year, so we had to make some adjustments,” Reed said in a prepared statement. “In doing that, we made sure the seasons will open on the traditional opening dates, so folks can plan their annual halibut fishing trips well in advance.”
As a result, this year’s seasons were reduced by five days in the eastern region (Marine Areas 6-10) and nine days in the western region (Marine Area 5).
The waters of the South Sound (marine areas 11 and 13) and Hood Canal (Marine Area 12) will remain closed this year to protect threatened and endangered rockfish species.
On the state’s southern coast, the catch quota also will remain the same, but the catch fell short of the quota by about 4,000 pounds last year. In response, the days of the week open to fishing out of Ilwaco and Chinook will change from Thursday-Saturday last year to Friday-Sunday this year, Reed said.
“Having another weekend day open to halibut fishing should provide more access to the halibut fishery in this area,” Reed said.
Reed added that coastal seasons can be affected by weather, making it difficult to know exactly how long the quota will last.
In all marine areas open for 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 catch record card from the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
2013 halibut seasons
Marine Area 5: From May 23-26, the fishery will be open Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday for Memorial Day weekend. From May 30-June 1, the fishery will be open Thursday, Friday and Saturday and then will be open for one final day June 8.
Marine Areas 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10: From May 2-4, the fishery will be open Thursday, Friday and Saturday. From May 16-18, the fishery will be open Thursday, Friday and Saturday. From May 23-26, the fishery will be open Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday for Memorial Day weekend. The fishery will be open May 30-31.
Marine Areas 11, 12, 13: These areas will remain closed to halibut fishing this year.
Marine Area 1 (Columbia River): Opens May 3, three days per week (Fridays-Sundays) until 80 percent of the quota is achieved. If the early season quota (80 percent of the quota) is not obtained prior to Aug. 3, the fishery will continue Fridays-Sundays until the remaining quota is taken or until Sept. 29, whichever occurs first. The early quota is 9,516 pounds; the late quota is 2,379 pounds.
Marine Area 2 (Westport): Opens May 5, two days per week (Sunday and Tuesday) for three consecutive weeks. The areawide fishery will be closed May 26 and 28. If sufficient quota remains, the fishery will open the following Sunday and/or Tuesday and continue until the quota is reached, or until Sept. 29, whichever occurs first. The northern near-shore area will open May 5 and continue seven days per week until the near-shore quota is reached, or until Sept. 30, whichever comes first. The quota for the areawide fishery is 40,739 pounds; the quota for the northern near-shore fishery is 2,000 pounds.
Marine Areas 3 and 4 (La Push and Neah Bay): Open May 9, two days per week (Thursdays and Saturdays) through May 18. If enough harvestable fish remain to be caught, the fishery will re-open May 30 and/or June 1 and possibly on additional days (Thursdays and Saturdays) depending on the amount of quota available until the quota is reached or Sept. 28, whichever occurs first. The combined quota for both areas is 108,030 pounds.
In Marine Areas 1-4, seasons will continue until the sub-area quotas are reached.