LEE HORTON’S OUTDOORS COLUMN: Coast open for halibut

By Lee Horton

Peninsula Daily News

ANGLERS COULDN’T HAVE asked for a better halibut opener.

The weather was great and the fish were plentiful.

The halibut fishery takes a week off in Marine Areas 6 (Eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca) and 9 (Admiralty Inlet), but opens on the northern coast today.

Not everybody who fished Marine Areas 6 and 9 had success, but there were some really good catch numbers.

“Some didn’t see anything,” Brian Menkal of Brian’s Sporting Goods and More (360-683-1950) in Sequim said.

“Other boats had two or three, and sometimes even four.”

Near Port Townsend, the results were similar.

“It was a fun opener as far as the big turnout and good weather,” Eric Elliott of Fish N Hole (360-385-7031) in Port Townsend said.

“It wasn’t a situation where everybody came back with fish. I don’t know how to describe it — spotty, maybe.

“There wasn’t one site that was consistently producing.”

Opening day — last Thursday — was especially productive around Port Angeles.

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife’s fish checkers surveyed 141 boats with 305 anglers at the Ediz Hook ramp, and the total catch for that day was 146 halibut. That’s an average of more than one halibut per boat.

For comparison, on opening day last year at the same ramp, 126 boats with 284 anglers caught 38 halibut — an average of only 0.3 fish per boat.

Here are the other creel reports for last weekend:

■ Ediz Hook public ramp — Friday, May 3: 132 boats with 291 anglers caught 74 halibut; Saturday, May 4: 123 boats with 303 anglers caught 77 halibut.

■ Port Angeles west ramp — Thursday, May 2: 41 boats with 96 anglers caught 42 halibut; Friday, May 3: 66 boats with 196 anglers caught 49 halibut; Saturday, May 4: 71 boats with 165 anglers caught 37 halibut.

■ John Wayne Marina — Thursday, May 2: 41 boats with 96 anglers caught 42 halibut.

Some impressive halibut were caught, including a 141-pounder, according to Menkal.

Elliott said most of the flatties caught near Port Townsend weighed 30 to 40 pounds.

That might pale in comparison to the 141-pounder, but Elliott pointed out that a 30- to 40-pound halibut still provides a lot of great meat.

Ocean halibut

Marine Areas 3 (LaPush) and 4 (Neah Bay) have their halibut opener this weekend, starting today.

“There are a lot of excited anglers,” Joey Lawrence of Big Salmon Resort (360-645-2374) in Neah Bay said.

“It’s kind of the kick off for the big fishing season.”

The fishery is open Thursdays and Saturdays through June 1, except for Memorial Day weekend (Thursday, May 23, and Saturday, May 25).

This year, the halibut season on the coast includes a nice twist: the chinook fishery also is open Fridays and Saturdays for the weekends halibut fishing is allowed.

So, Thursdays you can fish for halibut, Fridays you can fish for kings, and Saturdays you can go after both.

“This is the first time in quite a few years that anglers have had a May opportunity [for chinook],” Lawrence said.

This opening should coincide with the migration of the Columbia River chinook, giving anglers on the North Olympic Peninsula a rare chance at those big and delicious fish.

There could be some solid salmon fishing.

“A few people are really optimistic,” Lawrence said.

“Reports from the commercial salmon fishing, which opened May 1, are good reports of lots of bait. That means there’s lots of fish [out there].”

________



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 08. 2013 5:32PM
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