OLYMPIA – The recreational halibut fishery off the north coast of Washington will close Saturday, May 19 at 11:59 p.m., when the catch is expected to approach the May harvest quota, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today.
In just two days of fishing, anglers hauled in nearly 2,100 halibut averaging 21.9 pounds apiece in marine areas 3 (LaPush) and 4 (Neah Bay), said Phil Anderson, special assistant to the WDFW director.
By the time fishing ends Saturday, the cumulative harvest for all three days is expected to draw near the 83,663-pound quota for May, he said.
Anderson noted that 1,351 anglers fishing on the north coast May 17 caught 1,134 fish. Halibut season in marine areas 3 and 4 opened May 15, with fishing limited to Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
“At this rate, it’s doubtful that we’ll have enough poundage left for another day of fishing in May,” Anderson said. “Fishing has been excellent, and we’ve counted a phenomenal number of boats on the water. So far, we’ve been moving toward the quota at a record pace.”
Once catch figures through May 19 have been confirmed, fishery managers will decide whether they can allow another day of fishing in May or whether they should transfer any remaining poundage to the fishery scheduled in June, Anderson said.
“We’ll be making that announcement soon,” he said.
Halibut fishing in marine areas 3 and 4 is scheduled to reopen June 19 and 21 under a separate quota. Anglers fishing those days in those two areas will be restricted to waters no more than 30 fathoms deep, as specified in WDFW’s 2007-08 Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet.
Meanwhile, halibut fishing remains open seven days a week in Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco), and five days a week (Thursday through Monday) in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and all other areas of Puget Sound except Hood Canal.