WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE
NEWS RELEASE
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091

April 09, 2002
Contact: Greg Bargmann, (360) 902-2825

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Pacific halibut sport season opens in May

Sport fishing for Pacific halibut gets under way next month, with Washington's four coastal ports opening May 1, and Strait of Juan de Fuca, San Juan islands and central Puget Sound opening later in May.

Ilwaco, Westport, LaPush and Neah Bay all open for fishing May 1; the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca, San Juan islands, Hood Canal and central Puget Sound open May 9, and the western Strait of Juan de Fuca opens May 23.

Fishers face several new restrictions this year, some implemented in response to declining yelloweye rockfish numbers. No retention of yelloweye rockfish in coastal areas (catch record areas 1 through 4) is allowed this year. In addition, an area closed to halibut fishing south of Cape Flattery has been slightly expanded to reduce the bycatch of yelloweye rockfish in the area.

Barbed hooks are not allowed for halibut fishing in Puget Sound east of the Sekiu River.

Specific seasons and rules by catch record area are:

  • Ilwaco area (Catch Record Area 1)-- Opens May 1 and continues until September 30 or until the quota is caught, whichever occurs first. The annual catch quota is 11,188 pounds. Fishing is allowed seven days per week when the season is open. The daily bag limit is the first halibut 32 inches or greater in length. No catch record card is required in this area and the use of barbed hooks is allowed.

  • Westport area (Catch Record Area 2)-- Opens May 1 and continues until September 30, or until the quota is caught, whichever occurs first. The quota for this area is 42,739 pounds. Fishing is open five days per week (Sundays through Thursdays) in all waters. The waters from the Queets River south to 47 degrees 00 minutes N latitude and east of 124 degrees 40 minutes W longitude are open seven days per week during the fishing season. The daily bag limit is one halibut of any size. No catch record card is required and the use of barbed hooks is allowed.

  • LaPush and Neah Bay areas (Catch Record areas 3 and 4)-- The first season opens May 1, five days per week (Tuesdays through Saturdays) until June 30 or until the quota of 70,030 pounds has been taken, whichever occurs first. The second season will be open July 1 to July 4 and may continue five days a week (Tuesdays through Saturdays) until the overall cumulative quota of 108,030 pounds has been taken. The daily bag limit is one halibut of any size. No catch record card is required and the use of barbed hooks is allowed. The area about 19 miles southwest of Cape Flattery that has been closed to halibut fishing in past years has been expanded an additional four miles further south to protect yelloweye rockfish.

  • Western Strait of Juan de Fuca (Catch Record Area 5)-- Open May 23 to July 26 five days per week (Thursdays through Mondays). There is no catch quota for this area. The daily bag limit is one halibut of any size. A catch record card is required and the use of barbed hooks is prohibited.

  • Eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca, San Juan Islands, Hood Canal and central Puget Sound (Catch Record areas 6-13)-- Open May 9 to July 12 five days per week ( Thursdays through Mondays). There is no catch quota for these areas. The daily bag limit is one halibut of any size. A catch record card is required and the use of barbed hooks is prohibited.