OLYMPIA - The recreational halibut fishery off Westport (Marine Area 2) will close Monday, May 30 at 11:59 p.m., when the sport catch is expected to reach the area quota, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today.
Since the fishery opened May 1, anglers have made steady progress toward meeting this year's quota of 50,146 pounds, said Phil Anderson, special assistant to the WDFW director.
"Halibut fishing has been good off Westport all month, with most anglers catching their daily limit of one fish," Anderson said. "In the past week or two, they started getting into some bigger fish."
Halibut caught during the past week weighed an average of 21 pounds, compared to 16 pounds earlier in the month, he said.
Once catch figures are tallied, WDFW may allow anglers to retain halibut caught incidentally to rockfish and lingcod in the Northern Nearshore Area, between Grays Harbor and the Queets River, Anderson said. He recommends that anglers check the area boundaries before fishing those waters.
Meanwhile, the ocean halibut fishery off Ilwaco (Marine Area 1) remains open with three-quarters of its 13,747-pound quota left to be caught. All areas of Puget Sound, except Hood Canal, are also open for recreational halibut fishing.
In addition, two marine areas off the north coast are scheduled to reopen to halibut fishing in mid-June. 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.
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.
Anglers are advised to check the Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet for regulations specific to each area. Updates on fishing seasons are posted on WDFW's website (http://wdfw.wa.gov/) and available on the department's Fishing Hotline (360-902-2500).