GO AHEAD HALIBUT anglers and pat yourselves on the back.
Despite anecdotal evidence pointing toward tough fishing and the lowest reported catch totals in recent years during the recreational halibut opener on May 11 and 13, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife estimates offer up a different narrative – enough successful catches to trim away more than a quarter of the 60,995-pound Puget Sound halibut season quota.
State counts put the number of flatfish landed by 7,035 recreational anglers on Puget Sound and in the Strait of Juan de Fuca (areas 5-10) on the opening weekend at 676 for a total estimated weight of 15,789 pounds (23.35 pounds per fish).
Fish checkers with Fish and Wildlife counted 279 halibut brought ashore by 3,277 anglers at boat ramps from Sekiu to Shilshole during the opening days, but that number expanded to 676 halibut when Fish and Wildlife took into account aerial boat counts, counting of boat trailers at launches and other methodologies the state says are “peer-reviewed.”
Fish checkers can’t be everywhere, but it seems off to think that nearly 400 fish were missed, and more than 3,500 anglers didn’t get counted coming through these boat ramps.
It’s a puzzle. As is the state’s disinclination to attempt to provide faster catch record data going forward.
The halibut catch record card that recreational fishing interests fought for and will go into effect next season has been made toothless and halibut fishery managers don’t seem interested in having that catch record data made available sooner rather than later after seasons are completed.
Halibut fishing is safe for the two-day opener Friday and Sunday, but don’t count on any bonus days in June, particularly if catches rebound more toward normal over the Memorial Day weekend.
Streamkeepers, Clallam County’s volunteer stream monitoring program, is seeking new volunteers to help collect stream health data, perform data entry and analysis and conduct education and outreach.
The program’s annual training will take place in July and consist of a couple of evening sessions and a field day scheduled around the availability of the trainees.
Volunteers will learn how watersheds provide services to fish, wildlife, and people; what threatens our watersheds and why they are monitored.
To participate, call 360-417-2281 or email [email protected] or visit www.clallam.net/SK.
Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-417-3525 or [email protected]