THE PROSPECTS FOR completing the remaining number of scheduled halibut openings in June is looking positive, and there may be some quota poundage left over that could provide for a later-in-the summer treat.
That’s the takeaway of an email sent last week by state Department of Fish and Wildlife Coastal Policy Coordinator Heather Hall to halibut stakeholders.
Hall’s report had data through June 7, so last week’s dates as well as this week have yet to be factored in. More on that later.
“Catch through June 7 is at 25,547 pounds. That is 32.9 percent of the 77,550 quota and leaves 52,003 pounds of quota remaining. I did some projections and if catch and effort stay similar, we will likely have over 30,000 pounds of quota remaining. My recommendation is to reserve that quota to re-open halibut in the Puget Sound area during the August/September time frame we are looking at for the coastal fishery.
“That would avoid halibut being open in July and would set the halibut fishery to be open in all areas at the same time. I have provided [the] National Marine Fisheries Service and [the] International Pacific Halibut Commission with a similar update and they are supportive of addressing any remaining quota in this way.”
Potentially, that would mean halibut and salmon limits on the same day in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound.
Sequim angler Dave Croonquist passed along Hall’s note and took a stab at estimating more up-to-date numbers using state creel report data gathered by fish checkers at docks, launches and marinas.
“If my math is right, the creel folks have checked almost 1,200 fish,” Croonquist wrote. “Using Heather’s numbers, and if my math is right, it would appear that the average weight is over 30 pounds [per fish]. If so, we may be closer to 50 percent of our quota through the 15th. I hope my math is wrong and we will make it to the end of the season, June 29.”
He mentioned that the best halibut day thus far was last Saturday when more than 200 halibut were checked, more than double the average count of 78 halibut per day counted since the Puget Sound halibut season opened May 20.
Croonquist also passed along some recent trip report information from Port Angeles-area outings.
“Green Point has been a bust for me the past few trips,” Croonquist wrote. “Lots of dogfish and one small skate. [The] 31-36 [hole] was a dry hole, too, but we did hear of a number of radio fish. There was a report of a 100-pound fish taken on the Rock Pile on the 13th.
“Angeles Point turned out a number of fish. I know of one fish taken out of the Winter Hole at 270 feet. On Monday, my boat fished north of the [McKinley] paper mill. We caught two fish, 15- and 21-pounders, drifting salmon bellies from 250 feet into approximately 120 feet.
“We also picked up one skate, but no dogfish. I don’t like to drift uphill, but it worked.”
Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-406-0674 or [email protected].