Thank the Makah Tribe for its efforts as resource co-managers in securing more halibut quota for recreational anglers to catch this season than in recent years.
Recreational halibut seasons announced by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife are based on a statewide quota of 277,100 pounds, up by an average of 19 percent over the past three years.
The higher annual catch quota is the result of a new fixed allocation for fisheries in Washington, Oregon and California approved by the International Pacific Halibut Commission in January, according to Fish and Wildlife coastal policy coordinator Heather Hall.
More quota through 2022
Hall said that unique approach will allocate a total of 1.5 million pounds to halibut fisheries off the coast of those three states each year through 2022, barring any “substantive conservation concerns.”
“The Makah Tribe proposed a fixed quota for all recreational and commercial fisheries, not just for tribal fisheries,” Hall said. “That initiative will help to stabilize fisheries in all three states.”
Halibut season dates are the same for Marine areas 3-10, including La Push, Neah Bay, Sekiu, Port Angeles and Admiralty Inlet with fishing openers on May 2, 4, 9, 11, 18, 24, 26 and June 6, 8, 20 and 22, provided sufficient quotas remain.
Marine areas 3 (La Push) and 4 (Neah Bay) have a combined quota of 128,187 pounds.
Marine areas 5-10, which includes the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca (Area 6) and Admiralty Inlet (Area 9), will be managed to an overall quota of 77,550 pounds.
Here’s the slight bummer for Marine Area 6 halibut anglers.
Unlike previous seasons, anglers fishing for halibut in Marine Area 6 will not be able to retain lingcod incidentally caught when fishing for halibut seaward of the 120-foot depth boundary.
Hall said the depth restriction is designed to protect rockfish species, including yelloweye rockfish, which are listed under the federal Endangered Species Act.
“Higher halibut quotas in the next few years will likely mean more fishing days, which increase the chance that anglers fishing for halibut will encounter ESA-listed rockfish,” she said. “If we continued to allow lingcod retention outside of the depth restriction in Marine Area 6, it could affect rockfish recovery.”
However, lingcod retention will still be allowed seaward of the 120-foot depth restriction in Marine Area 5 (Sekiu), which is outside of the area where yelloweye rockfish are listed.
One lingcod of a minimum length of 26 inches and a maximum of 36 inches can still be retained inside of the 120-foot depth restriction boundaries in Marine Area 6 during hook-and-line season from May 1 to June 15.
Expert halibut angler, guide, tackle maker and author John Beath of Sequim will present the Top 10 Tactics for Catching Halibut in the Strait of Juan de Fuca at the North Olympic Peninsula chapter of Puget Sound Anglers meeting tonight, Thursday, April 11, at 6:30 p.m. in Sequim.
The event will be held at Trinity United Methodist Church, 100 S. Blake Ave.
The evening begins with viewing of raffle prizes and fish stories.
Beath will include secrets and strategies to consistently catch halibut in the waters off Washington and British Columbia.
He will cover tides and currents, top baits, lures, anchoring, chumming, drifting and jigging, and he’ll share images, local charts and video of halibut fishing.
Beath also will cover the current requirements from Fish and Wildlife, U.S. and Canadian Customs for fishing in Canadian waters and returning to a U.S. port.
A business meeting will follow, which includes a financial report, government relations report, upcoming events discussions and fishing reports from members.
Also on tap are refreshments, a raffle for fishing gear and the membership drawing (must be present to win). The public is welcome.
And more halibut
Beath also will discuss halibut during a free seminar at Brian’s Sporting Goods and More, 609 W. Washington St. No. 21 in Sequim, from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Friday, April 26.
“He’ll cover everything to do with halibut here in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, including Canadian waters,” Brian’s owner Brian Menkal said.
“Techniques like anchoring, jigging and drifting. Places to fish, working the tides. It’s a very complete seminar and all taught on our local waters. John Beath is kind of the halibut guru.
“All are welcome. It’s our annual contribution to our fishing fraternity.”
Menkal asks those interested in attending to RSVP to 360-683-1950.
Camping is open for the season at Lake Leland, Quilcene’s Ward Norden, a former fisheries biologist and owner of Snapper Tackle Co. said.
“The campground at Lake Leland is now open through the fall (Oct. 31),” Norden said. “It is a beautiful campground right next to the park and boat launch, but you have to bring your own drinking water.”
Norden is correct, the 22-site campground lacks drinking water, so pack plenty if you plan to camp.
Sports reporter/columnist Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-417-3525 or [email protected]