LEE HORTON’S OUTDOORS COLUMN: About to get big, ugly

By Lee Horton

Peninsula Daily News

HALIBUT SEASON HAS finally arrived.

Starting today, most of the Strait of Juan de Fuca is open to the popular fishery.

“We’ve been waiting for this all winter,” Eric Elliott of Fish N Hole (360-385-7031) in Port Townsend said.

Making the return of halibut even better is a fantastic weather forecast. Knock on wood.

It is looking like it will be warm and dry, and gusts should be minimal.

Halibut fishing doesn’t require warm and dry weather — that’s just a plus for anglers who like that sort of thing — but the tame wind is key.

Halibut are big, ugly, delicious and easy to catch.

The bait you use is, for the most part, dependant upon personal preference. (However, don’t forget the mantra of Brian Menkal of Brian’s Sporting Goods and More, 360-683-1950, in Sequim: If something isn’t working, make a change).

What is critical is that you keep your chosen bait in contact with the bottom of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, or whichever body of salt water you are fishing for halibut.

Weight, not bait, is what matters most.

So, make sure to stock up on the lead weights when you’re buying bait and jigs.

As far as bait goes, Elliott said that Black Label herring and Youngquist jigs have been some of the most popular purchases by anglers prepping for halibut fishing.

Only Marine Area 6 (Port Angeles and Sequim) and 9 (Admiralty Inlet) are opening today.

Neah Bay (Marine Area 4) and LaPush (Marine Area 3) opens to halibut fishing next week, and Sekiu’s (Marine Area 5) season begins later in the month.

Remember, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife have tweaked the season in most of the marine areas.

For instance, the biggest change on the North Olympic Peninsula is the Marine Area 6 and 9 halibut seasons will be open one less weekend than usual.

The fishery in both areas begins today, and then takes a week off next week before reopening Thursday, May 16.

Here is a refresher on the halibut season in each area:

Marine Areas 6 and 9

■ Thursday through Saturday, May 2-4, and May 16-18 (not open May 7-9).

■ Thursday through Sunday, Many 23-26 (Memorial Day weekend; not open Memorial Day).

■ Thursday and Friday, May 30-31.

■ Limits: Daily catch: 1; no size minimum.

Marine Areas 3 and 4

■ Thursdays and Saturdays, May 9 and 11, and May 16 and 18.

■ Not open Memorial Day weekend.

Will reopen Friday, May 31 (and possibly Saturday, June 1) if quota remains.

■ If quota still remains, additional days might be announced.

■ Limits: Daily catch: 1; no size minimum.

Marine Area 5

■ Thursday through Sunday, May 23-26 (Memorial Day weekend, but not Memorial Day), and May 30 to June 1.

■ Saturday, June 8.

This is a significant change. Last year, the halibut fishery was open four days a week from late May to late June.

Shrimp opener

The spot shrimp season also begins this weekend, starting on Saturday.

Unlike halibut, the shrimp seasons in most areas will last longer this year.

________



Outdoors columnist Lee Horton appears here Thursdays and Fridays. He can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5152 or at lhorton@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: May 01. 2013 5:57PM
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