Halibut season about to begin off Columbia

Halibut from Columbia River plume area

    The 2013 Buoy 10 salmon season is expected to open Aug. 1. An incorrect date was included in last week’s column due to a snafu during final proofing.

Halibut Opener (Marine Area 1 - Columbia River)

    May 3 marks the opener for the 2013 halibut season. It is open three days a week (Friday, Saturday and Sunday), until 80 percent of the quota is achieved.

    For those of you looking forward to your first halibut trip, halibut but are a bottom fish and are highly regarded as a food fish. Off the coast of the Columbia River they are fished about 20 miles out to sea at depth ranges from 400 to 600 feet. They are fished with a stout rod, a lot of line and weights from 3 to 5 pounds. There are currently several charter boat companies that fish during the season. All their boats are fully equipped with all the gear for your fishing needs.

    Halibut tend to be a mottled brown on their upward facing side and white on their downside. Halibut generally average 24 to 30 pounds in our area, but it is not unusual to catch fish from 40 to 100 pounds on a trip.

    At birth, they have an eye on each side of their head, and swim like salmon. After 6 months, one eye migrates to the other side, making them look like a flounder. Prey animals found in their stomachs include octopus, crab, salmon, sculpin, herring and flounder, as well as other halibut. Their common predators include the sea lion, the killer whale and the salmon shark.

    Halibut do not reproduce until age 8, when they are about 30 inches long, so commercial capture below this length prevents breeding and is against U.S. and Canadian regulations supporting sustainability. Halibut are managed by the International Halibut Commission. It is a highly regulated fishery.

    Halibut on the retail market often sell for $15 to $22 a pound. They are often broiled, deep-fried or grilled while fresh. Smoking is more difficult with halibut than with salmon, due to its ultra-low fat content. Eaten fresh, the meat has a clean taste and requires little seasoning.

    If you are interested in booking a charter boat, do so now by calling one of the charters in Ilwaco. Weather at times may be rough, forcing cancelation of a trip, which can be rescheduled at a later date.

    If you are planning on fishing halibut from a smaller recreational boat, be sure that you pick a day with flat seas or you will be in for a rough trip.    


Facts about Washington state:

    • Mt. Rainier is the highest point in Washington state. It was named after British Admiral Peter Rainier, who fought against the Americans in the Revolutionary War.

    • 70 percent of the nation’s hops used to brew beer are produced in Washington state. To overcome beer breath, the majority of the nation’s mint is also grown in the state.

    • In Washington, the Seattle Seahawks football team was named by a fan. Seahawk is just one nickname given an osprey, which is also sometimes called a fish hawk.

     Ron Malast can be reached at 665-3573 or raiders7777@centurylink.net.

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