OLYMPIA — Anglers fishing for halibut in Washington waters can expect some changes in this year’s seasons, even though the state’s annual catch quota remains the same as in 2015.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife establishes halibut seasons using catch quotas adopted by the International Pacific Halibut Commission for coastal fisheries from California to Alaska. This year’s quota for recreational halibut fisheries in Washington state is 214,110 pounds.
As in years past, the growing popularity of recreational halibut fishing will require adjustments in this year’s season, said Heather Reed, WDFW coastal policy coordinator.
“Here and elsewhere, fishery managers are working to keep pace with the growing demand on the resource,” Reed said. “Strong catch rates continue to draw anglers to this popular fishery each year.”
In Marine Area 1 off the mouth of the Columbia River, anglers reached last year’s quota earlier than expected, although not until early June. That fishery is scheduled to run four days a week this year from May 1 until the quota is taken, or Sept. 30, whichever occurs first.
Anglers fishing the nearshore area of that fishery will again be allowed to retain bottomfish — such as flounder and sole — as well as halibut on days when the rest of the area is closed to halibut fishing.
“We continue to look for ways to increase fishing opportunity in the Columbia River area where the catch has been below the quota in recent years,” Reed said.
In all marine areas open to halibut fishing, there is a one-fish daily catch limit and no minimum size restriction. Anglers may possess a maximum of two fish in any form and must record their catch on a WDFW catch record card.
Anglers should check the WDFW website for complete information on recreational halibut regulations and seasons at wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/creel/halibut/.