OLYMPIA — The recreational halibut fishery off Westport and Ocean Shores will close at the end of today (May 8) after just six days of fishing, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has announced.
More people on the water, great weather and larger fish all contributed to anglers reaching the 50,907-pound quota of halibut allocated for Marine Area 2. In 2006, anglers reached the 53,952-pound quota in 13 days.
“Last year, the fish weighed about 24 pounds and fewer people were out,” said Michele Culver, WDFW regional director. “This year we’re averaging 400 people a day and they’re hauling in some fish weighing nearly 27 pounds. The catch and effort here have been record-high.” The Westport fishery, which opened May 1, ran five days a week.
Anglers may not fish for, retain, possess or land Pacific halibut in Marine Area 2 after the fishing closes at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, May 8.
Washington’s halibut-fishing seasons are based on stock assessments and catch quotas established by the International Pacific Halibut Commission. Under that plan, each marine area is allocated a certain number of pounds. In 2007, coastal and Puget Sound halibut fisheries were allocated a total of 253,046 pounds.
Although halibut fishing is closed, fishing for other bottomfish will remain open in Marine Area 2. A depth restriction is in effect for rockfish and lingcod through June 15. Anglers may not fish for, retain possess or land any rockfish or lingcod caught seaward of a line approximating 30 fathoms offshore.
Coordinates are available in the 2007-08 Fishing in Washington rule pamphlet, on the WDFW website for sport fishing rules or by calling the Fishing Hotline at (360) 902-2500. Details on halibut rules are online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/creel/halibut/.