OLYMPIA - Anglers will get two days in June to fish for halibut off the north coast of Washington, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today.
Marine areas 3 (La Push) and 4 (Neah Bay) will be open to halibut fishing from 12:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. Thursday, June 16 and again on Saturday, June 18, said Phil Anderson, special assistant to the WDFW director.
"We wanted to give anglers two more days of fishing, but our catch projections show we don't have enough fish remaining under the quota for a Friday-and-Saturday fishery," Anderson said. "By staggering the days, we're hoping to give more people a chance to participate and still stay within the quota."
Fishing was excellent earlier this month, when anglers caught 76,967 pounds of halibut off the north coast in seven days of fishing, Anderson said. By his estimate, the number of anglers fishing off La Push each day was up 80 percent from last year, with a 20 percent increase in anglers at Neah Bay.
After closing the fishery to confirm catch totals, WDFW fish biologists determined that 38,470 pounds are still available for harvest under the recreational catch quota for the north coast.
"Barring foul weather, I expect that anglers will catch most - if not all - of the remaining quota," said Anderson, noting that the two-day fishery was approved by both the National Marine Fisheries Service and the International Pacific Halibut Commission.
While the north coast is renowned for large flatfish, anglers are also catching their limit of hefty halibut in other marine areas, Anderson said. The south coast, which includes marine areas 1 (Ilwaco) and 2 (Westport), is still open for halibut fishing, as are all waters of Puget Sound except Hood Canal.
"There are still plenty of opportunities to catch halibut in the state's marine waters right now," Anderson said.