Tag Archives: halibut

2019 Washington Halibut Seasons Subject Of Upcoming Public Meeting

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will host a public meeting in Montesano in early October to discuss management options and select proposed dates for the 2019 statewide halibut season.

LA PUSH HALIBUT ANGLERS SHOW OFF A GOOD GRADE OF FISH CAUGHT ON A SPRING 2018 OUTING. (DAVE ANDERSON)

The meeting will be held Oct. 9 from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at Montesano City Hall, 112 N. Main St.

State halibut managers will provide an overview of specific options under consideration by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) for recreational fisheries in Marine Areas 1 (Columbia River) and 2 (Westport) for 2019. WDFW will consider public comments received on those options in developing recommendations to the PFMC before the federally established council meets in November.

“The options reflect suggestions made by anglers to improve the state’s halibut fishery,” said Heather Reed, coastal policy coordinator for WDFW. “The halibut fishery is very popular and this meeting is a good opportunity to provide input.”

In addition to status quo, options under consideration include:

Revising the season opening date in Marine Area 1 (Columbia River) so that it aligns more closely with the openings in other marine areas.

Changing the number of days of the week the Marine Area 1 (Columbia River) all-depth fishery is open from three days per week to two.

Clarifying that the nearshore fishery in Marine Area 2 (Westport) will open if sufficient quota remains after the all-depth fishery closes.

At the Oct. 9 meeting, WDFW will also solicit input from the public and facilitate a discussion on the proposed season dates for the statewide season in Marine Areas 2-10. As part of those discussions, WDFW staff will review the tide calendars for next May and June and work to balance the needs across various fishing communities and charter and private fishing interests.

During the discussion, factors considered will include maximizing opportunity, extending the season length, and accommodating traditions relative to opening dates and planned fishing derbies.

More information about the specific options described above can be found online at https://www.pcouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/J1b_Supp_WDFW_Rpt1_SEPTBB2018.pdf

For more information on the season-setting process visit PFMC’s website at http://www.pcouncil.org/pacific-halibut/background-information/.

2019 Halibut, Bottomfish Seasons Subject Of 4 ODFW Early Aug. Meetings

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

ODFW will host a series of public meetings the week of Aug. 6 to gather input on the 2019 recreational bottomfish and halibut seasons. People who can’t attend meetings can also listen in via Webcast (details below).

MORE YELLOWEYE ROCKFISH WILL BE AVAILABLE FOR HARVEST DURING OREGON’S 2019 SALTWATER FISHERIES. (ODFW)

One key change for next year is that beginning in 2019, the amount of yelloweye rockfish that all fisheries, including recreational fisheries, are allowed to impact will be going up. This increase in yelloweye rockfish should allow for some additional opportunities. However the quotas for many other bottomfish species will remain at current levels or decrease a bit. ODFW will be seeking input on how to balance the season structure and regulations to stay within these allocations.

“It’s important that we hear from a wide range of anglers before making decisions on the 2019 seasons,” said ODFW Recreational Halibut and Bottomfish Project Leader Lynn Mattes.

The meetings will be held:
Monday, Aug. 6, 6-8 p.m. in Salem at ODFW Headquarters (4034 Industrial Drive SE) in the Commission Room.
Tuesday, Aug. 7, 6-8 p.m. in Newport at the Marine Resources Program office, 2040 SE Marine Science Drive.  This meeting will also be webcast, details below.
Wednesday, Aug. 8, 6-8 p.m. in Brookings at the Southwestern Oregon Community College, Curry Campus, 96082 Lone Ranch Parkway.
Thursday, Aug.9, 6-8 p.m. in North Bend at the Public Library, 1800 Sherman Street.

Anglers who wish to provide input but cannot attend a meeting in person or via the webcast can contact Lynn Mattes at 541-867-4741 ext. 237 or lynn.mattes@state.or.us or Christian Heath at 541-867-4741 ext. 266 or Christian.t.heath@state.or.us.  Background information will be posted on the ODFW sport bottomfish and sport halibut webpages by Aug. 3.

Webcast details:
Join from your computer, tablet or smartphone.
https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/173547725
You can also dial in using your phone.
United States: +1 (571) 317-3122
Access Code: 173-547-725
First GoToMeeting? Do a quick system check: https://link.gotomeeting.com/system-check

North Coast, Straits, Sound Halibut Anglers Get One More Day

THE FOLLOWING IS AN EMERGENCY RULE-CHANGE NOTICE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

Action:  Recreational halibut fishing will re-open for a final day in Marine Areas 3 and 4 (La Push and Neah Bay) and marine areas 5 through 10 in the Puget Sound on Saturday, June 30.

ANDIE HOLMBERG SPORTS A BIG SMILE AFTER LANDING HER FIRST-EVER HALIBUT, CAUGHT OFF FRESHWATER BAY NEAR PORT ANGELES EARLIER THIS SEASON. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

Effective date: Saturday, June 30, 2018.

Species affected: Pacific halibut.

 Location: Marine Area 3 (La Push), Marine Area 4 (Neah Bay) and marine areas 5-10 (Puget Sound).

 Reason for action: Recreational catch estimates from the recent halibut opener on June 21 and June 23 indicate that there is sufficient quota remaining to open recreational halibut fishing for one final day on Saturday, June 30.

 Additional information: Anglers should note that lingcod retention is not allowed in waters deeper than 120 feet in Marine areas 5 and 6 now that the recreational lingcod season is closed.  All other areas are closed to recreational halibut fishing for the remainder of the year.

This rule conforms to federal action taken by the National Marine Fisheries Service and the International Pacific Halibut Commission.

More Details On That Giant East Strait of Juan de Fuca Halibut

No, Tom Hellinger won’t be sharing his secret halibut spot anytime soon, though he does offer a hint.

“I can give you the coordinates,” says the 59-year-old Puget Sound angler who hooked a true barndoor late last month. “All the way on the bottom.”

SCREENSHOTS FROM A VIDEO SHOT BY ANGLER TOM HELLINGER’S DAUGHTER ALEISHA HELLINGER FROM THE ROOF OF THE BOAT SHOW THE FINAL STAGES OF TOM’S BATTLE WITH THE 79-INCH HALIBUT AND CELEBRATION IMMEDIATELY AFTER BRINGING IT ABOARD. (ALEISHA HELLINGER)

But the Whidbey Island resident is sharing more details of his remarkable catch, a 6 1/2-plus-foot-long halibut estimated at between 254 and 265 pounds.

“It’s pretty humbling to catch a fish like that,” says Hellinger, who likened it to harvesting a trophy bull elk. “They’re pretty majestic.”

Though unofficial, the fish is within 25 to 35 pounds of the state record, caught out at Swiftsure Bank in the late 1980s.

“I was really blessed to be part of that and have my kids be there,” Hellinger adds.

They were out somewhere on the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca on Sunday, May 27.

With his daughter Aleisha Hellinger, son Caleb Hellinger and fishing partner Luke Reid all angling off the back of the 24-foot Hewescraft, Hellinger went up to the bow.

“I told the kids I was going to catch the big one,” he says.

LUKE REID, ALEISHA HELLINGER, TOM HELLINGER AND CALEB HELLINGER POSE WITH TOM’S BIG CATCH AS WELL AS LUKE AND ALEISHA’S 30- AND 40-POUNDERS FROM THE SAME TRIP. (TOM HELLINGER)

With him he took an Okuma SST halibut rod paired with a Tica reel he’d picked up on sale at a boat show and strung with 80-pound T.U.F. Line.

“The cheapest rod and reel on the boat,” Hellinger jokes in a salty three-minute video Aleisha shot.

With a whole black-label-sized herring and large pink squid on a 10/0 Gamakatsu off a spreader bar and nylon leader on the business end, he used 50 ounces of weight to keep the rig on bottom in 100-plus feet of water.

Hellinger says it was only about five minutes after he began fishing that the bait got the interest of something big.

“He set up hard on it,” Hellinger recalls. “He took 50 to 60 yards of line, just ripped it off. I had to thumb it to stop it, then set the hooks again.”

He says the fish felt solid, “like being hooked into a wall.”

TOM HELLINGER POSES WITH HIS BARNDOOR-SIZED HALIBUT, A FISH HE WAS BOTH “GRATEFUL AND THANKFUL” TO CATCH. (TOM HELLINGER)

Calling Caleb over, he handed the rod to him with some instructions.

“I’ve got a nice fish on, so work him nice and slow,” Hellinger counseled. “We’ll see what comes up.”

He said it took about 40 minutes for Caleb to bring the halibut up to the surface.

“It came up like the mothership — flat, flat as could be. Everybody had that ‘oh, my gosh’ moment. This is a barndoor.”

The initial attempt at getting a harpoon into the fish failed.

“The fish came out of the water immediately. I’ve never seen one do that. It did a 180 and ran down the side of the boat and snapped off the harpoon line,” Hellinger says.

He coached Caleb to let it run, but soon his son said he couldn’t fight it any longer and for his father to take the rod back.

“My pleasure,” Hellinger responded.

THE CREW AND THE HALIBUT. (TOM HELLINGER)

This has been a pretty good halibut season for the longtime employee of Freeland’s Nichols Brothers shipyard, with five between he, Aleisha and Reid — “five times more than usual.”

“I consider it fortunate to get one a season,” Hellinger says.

He says there have been some strings of years with none, and that with Washington’s tightly controlled fishery — with its preplanned and staggered retention days that don’t always align with good weather — he’d even been considering whether it was worthwhile any longer to chase them.

But now, with a big one on, Hellinger found a good spot along the gunnel and fought the seabeast for another 40 minutes, the fish’s movements telegraphing up the line and down the rod into his arms.

“It’s a different feel, like a magic carpet ride. When you hook up, you can feel that undulating swimming motion” that differentiates the flat-sided fish from others like large dogfish, he says.

Where the halibut had come up belly down the first time, now it rose head up as its fight waned.

They took another shot at it with the harpoon, and this time the halibut came at the boat.

“It was something else, like a whitewater event, waves coming over the gunnel,” he says.

As Reid and Caleb stood by with gaffs, Aleisha urged caution and encouragement from the boat’s roof as she took a video of the scene.

Both men then got good purchases with their meathooks, and with a three-count, they slid the halibut over the rails into the stern, where it thrashed blood over the white deck.

The celebrations began immediately with high fives, hugs, whoops of joy — and more than a little disbelief about what this was that they’d just fought out of the depths twice.

Indeed, there still be monsters here, and the Hellinger halibut is just the latest bit of evidence that also includes a series of Straits 200-pounders caught in 2010, the 11-foot Hanford Reach sturgeon, the Tripod Buck, the Scablands Buck, the Fife Buck

As they inspected the fish, Hellinger says they saw that his hook had bent to within 15 degrees of being straightened.

“If we hadn’t got him when we did …,” he says, recalling other hooks over the years that have cracked.

Hellinger admits to taking some flak on a Facebook page that he should have let the fish go. An article last year in the Peninsula Daily News by outdoor reporter Michael Carmen shows that that’s common whenever big halibut are landed here.

But this one also led a good, long life and was able to contribute to the gene pool multiple times over the decades.

Even as we’ll never know exactly how heavy Hellinger’s halibut was because of the impossibility of finding a certified scale during the back half of Memorial Day Weekend — a search detailed in the Whidbey News-Times, which broke the story of the catch — it is safe to say that based on standard length measurements for halibut, his single 78 3/4-inch-long fish accounted for more than 1% of the entire Puget Sound poundage landed over the May 11, 13, 25 and 27 openers, according to WDFW stats. It’s also more than 10 times as heavy as this season’s average flattie here.

Hellinger says its head weighed 42 pounds alone. The fish yielded 140 pounds of fillets, he told Q13, as well as 1 1/2 pounds of coveted halibut cheek meat.

“I was just really thankful and grateful,” Hellinger says. “You don’t really realize how rare that is. Big fish are rare. To be an hour from my home and catch something like that is special.”

WDFW Sets Last Halibut Days For Areas 1-10

THE FOLLOWING IS AN EMERGENCY RULE CHANGE NOTICE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

Action: Sets the final season dates of recreational halibut fishing for marine areas 1-10.

THE BARNDOOR OF THE YEAR MAY HAVE ALREADY BEEN CAUGHT, BUT WASHINGTON HALIBUT ANGLERS LIKE TAMMY FINDLAY WILL HAVE A FEW MORE DAYS TO TRY FOR FAT FLATTIES. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

Locations and effective dates:

Marine Area 1 (Columbia River): The nearshore fishery, which has been open seven days a week, will close for the season at the end of the day on June 20.

The all-depth fishery, which has been closed, will reopen June 21 only.

Marine Area 2 (Westport): The nearshore fishery, which has been open seven days a week, will close at the end of the day on June 6.

Both the nearshore and all-depth fisheries will reopen for a single day on June 21, then close for the season at the end of the day on June 21.

Marine areas 3-10: Will open June 16, June 21, and June 23.

Species affected: Pacific halibut

Reason for action: There is sufficient quota remaining to open recreational halibut fisheries in Marine Area 3 (La Push) and 4 (Neah Bay) and Marine Areas 5-10 (Puget Sound) on Saturday, June 16 and Saturday, June 23.

In addition, in order to maximize all-depth fishing opportunity, the nearshore area in Marine Area 2 will close at the end of the day Wednesday, June 6, and recreational halibut fishing will re-open at all depths in coastal marine areas 1-4 (with the exception of the Marine Area 1 nearshore fishery) and Puget Sound marine areas 5-10 on Thursday, June 21.

Additional information: As previously announced, recreational halibut fishing is already scheduled to be open June 7 and June 9 in marine areas 3 (La Push) and 4 (Neah Bay) and marine areas 5-10 (Puget Sound)

The nearshore fishery in Marine Area 1 (Columbia River) remains open seven days per week until the end of the day June 20.

This rule conforms to federal action taken by the National Marine Fisheries Service and the International Pacific Halibut Commission.

Halibut Reopening June 7, 9 In Marine Areas 3-10

THE FOLLOWING IS AN EMERGENCY RULE CHANGE NOTICE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

Marine areas 3-10 to re-open for halibut fishing;
all-depth halibut fishery in Marine Area 2 to close

Action: Marine areas 3 through 10 will re-open for halibut fishing Thursday, June 7, and Saturday, June 9.

ANDIE HOLMBERG SPORTS A BIG SMILE AFTER LANDING HER FIRST-EVER HALIBUT, CAUGHT OFF FRESHWATER BAY NEAR PORT ANGELES. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

In Marine Area 2, the all-depth halibut fishery is closed effective immediately while the nearshore fishery will open seven days per week beginning Saturday, June 2.

Effective dates and locations:

Marine Areas 3-10: Open recreational halibut fishing Thursday, June 7, and Saturday, June 9.

Marine Area 2 (Westport): Close the all-depth fishery effective immediately; open the nearshore area seven days per week beginning Saturday, June 2.

Species affected: Pacific halibut

Reason for action: There is sufficient quota remaining to continue the recreational halibut fishery in Marine Areas 3 and 4 (Neah Bay and La Push) and the Puget Sound region (Marine Areas 5 – 10) on Thursday, June 7, and Saturday, June 9, without risk of exceeding the quota.

Through May 27, the total catch in the all-depth recreational halibut fishery in Marine Area 2 was 41,258 pounds, which is 93 percent of the quota and does not leave sufficient quota to open the all-depth halibut fishery for another day. However, some quota is reserved in this area to allow for a nearshore recreational halibut fishery once the all-depth fishery is closed. The nearshore area will open to recreational halibut fishing on Saturday, June 2, seven days per week until the quota is taken.

The quota will be adjusted to include the remaining quota from the all-depth fishery.

Other information: The nearshore halibut fishery in Marine Area 1 remains open seven days per week until further notice.

These rules conform to management actions taken by the International Pacific Halibut Commission and the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Information contact: Heather Reed, (360) 902-2487.

Week On The Water Yields Sturgeon, Halibut, Ling, Rockfish Fillets, Lots Of Fun

Editor’s note: The following blog was written and submitted by Dave Anderson

by Captain Dave Anderson

The 20th of May was the beginning of a fishing-packed week for not only myself but also family and friends. My father-in-law Maury and I rolled down to Astoria to go sturgeon fishing with Bret Dickerson, owner of Columbia River Sport Fishing.

We met up and left the dock by 5:00 a.m. on Monday the 21st. After a short run out of Astoria we were setting lines just as the sun was starting to rise above the trees. It wasn’t even five minutes and we had sturgeon hammering baits!

GUIDE BRET DICKERSON HOLDS MAURY KINCANNON’S FIRST STURGEON, CAUGHT IN MID-MAY IN THE COLUMBIA ESTUARY. (DAVE ANDERSON)

First fish we brought to the boat was just short of the slot limit. A few minutes later we had another dandy sturgeon on the end of the line. This fish ended up being Maury’s first sturgeon and it was a keeper!

For another hour or so this went on with great action. We hit a bit of a lull as the tide was turning, but it quickly turned around about an hour and a half before the 2:00 p.m. closure.

At 2:00 pm, the closure hit and lines were in just as the wind machine turned on. We ended up with a handful of keepers and our group couldn’t have been happier!

THERE’S MORE TO ASTORIA THAN BUOY 10 SALMON, AS DAVE ANDERSON WILL ATTEST. THE WATERS HERE ARE GOOD IN LATE SPRING FOR STURGEON FISHING, AND THIS YEAR’S RETENTION SEASON CONTINUES WITH TWO MORE OPENERS, JUNE 2 AND 4. (DAVE ANDERSON)

Jump forward a few days to Thursday afternoon. I headed out to one of my favorite places on the coast of Washington – La Push. This is where I met my friend Captain Kerry of Offshore Northwest to take a group of my friends fishing. This has become an annual trip in which we typically fish the second week of the La Push halibut season.

THE SUN SETS OVER JAMES AND LITTLE JAMES ISLANDS, AT LA PUSH, A GOOD LAUNCH POINT FOR MORE REMOTE WATERS ON WASHINGTON’S NORTH COAST. (DAVE ANDERSON)

Friday morning we ran out in a fairly lumpy ocean to make our 30-mile run to the grounds. We hit pay dirt immediately and had great action with lingcod and filled the boat quickly with limits of quality fish.

After moving around a bit we found a good patch of aggressive halibut. We ended up with early limits on both lingcod and halibut. Captain Kerry and I had a good chuckle when we looked at our watches and said to each other, “It’s only 8:45!”

ANDERSON WITH A TASTY LINGCOD. (DAVE ANDERSON)

Saturday we were able to sleep in before heading out to grab limits of sea bass. Not too far out of La Push we found a good patch and we were reeling in doubles after doubles of feisty sea bass! These fish are so fun to catch you can’t help but giggle like a little kid while reeling them in over and over.

Sunday morning we were greeted with a beautiful ocean! It was probably one of the best halibut ocean conditions a person could ask for. Cruising at 34 knots it took us under an hour to get to the grounds. Once we got there we started picking away at our fish. It wasn’t nearly as fast and furious as Friday, but we ended up reeling in a good grade of halibut and lingcod and headed back to the barn by 11:30 a.m.

A GOOD GRADE OF HALIBUT FOR THE CREW. (DAVE ANDERSON)

The best action this past weekend came off the good ol’ Montana Dave-built 13-inch-by-3/4-inch pipe jig with a 12/0 Mustad treble hook. Bait also worked, but the pipe jig definitely outproduced the bait!

All in all it was a fantastic week of fishing! I love being able to take advantage of the great resources the Pacific Northwest has to offer! Being able to spend time on the water and have fun with friends and family, I can’t ask for anything better! Life is good!

DAVE ANDERSON’S PIPE JIGS, THE MAKING OF WHICH WAS FEATURED IN THE MAY 2016 NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN RIG OF THE MONTH. (DAVE ANDERSON)

Columbia Subarea All-depth Halibut Fishery To Close After Friday

THE FOLLOWING ARE A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE AND AN EMERGENCY RULE-CHANGE NOTICE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

The Pacific halibut all-depth sport fishery in the Columbia River Subarea will close effective Friday, May 11, 2018 at 11:59 p.m., fishery managers announced today.

The all-depth fishery from Leadbetter Point in Washington to Cape Falcon in Oregon opened on May 3 and was scheduled to be open every ThursdayFriday and Sunday through Sept. 30 or the harvest of 11,182 pounds of Pacific halibut, whichever came first.

Preliminary estimates indicate that landings are nearing the quota and not enough remains for additional open days. The season will be closed until the end of the year. Effort in the Columbia River Subarea in 2018 was higher than in 2017 and catch rates were good, enabling anglers to harvest the entire quota for this fishery after just five days of fishing.

The Columbia River nearshore fishery (inside the 40-fathom line off of Oregon) remains open Mondays through Wednesdays until Sept. 30 or until the quota of 500 pounds is reached, whichever comes first.

Opportunities to fish for Pacific halibut remain open in other areas of Oregon:

Off central Oregon between Cape Falcon (near Manzanita) and Humbug Mountain (near Port Orford), anglers may fish for halibut inside the 40-fathom line beginning June 1, seven days a week through Oct. 31 or attainment of the harvest quota (25,856 pounds) for that fishery.

The spring season all-depth halibut fishery off central Oregon (quota of 135,742 pounds) is next scheduled to be open May 24-26, with additional fixed open dates scheduled for June 7-9 and June 21-23.

The summer season all-depth is scheduled to begin on Aug. 3-4 every other Friday and Saturday until Oct. 31 or the quota of 53,866 pounds has been met. The high-relief area of Stonewall Bank, west of Newport, is closed to all halibut fishing.

The area between Humbug Mountain and the OR/CA Border is open at all depths for Pacific halibut seven days a week through Oct. 31 or until the quota of 8,982 pounds has been met, whichever comes first.

Days on which Pacific halibut fishing is open will be announced on the NOAA Fisheries hotline (1-800-662-9825) and posted on the Pacific Halibut sport regulations page,  https://myodfw.com/pacific-halibut-sport-regulations

…………………………

Pacific halibut fishing to close after May 11 in Marine Area 1

Action: Close recreational halibut fishing at the end of the day Friday, May 11 in Marine 1.

Effective dates: 11:59 p.m. Friday, May 11, 2018

Species affected: Pacific halibut.

Location:  Marine Area 1.

Reason for action: The all-depth recreational halibut fishery in Marine Area 1 opened Thursday, May 3 and continued Friday, May 4 and Sunday, May 6. During those three days, anglers caught 8,455 pounds of the 11,182-pound quota for the all-depth fishery in the Washington portion of the Columbia River area.

There is sufficient quota remaining to continue the all-depth recreational halibut fishery through Friday, May 11 but not enough to keep the fishery open Sunday, May 13 without risk of exceeding the quota. The nearshore halibut fishery in Marine Area 1 will remain open Mondays through Wednesdays until further notice.

These rules conform to management actions taken by the International Pacific Halibut Commission and the National Marine Fisheries Service. 

 

Yuasa Reviews Washington 2018 Salmon Seasons, Looks Ahead To Halibut, Shrimping

Editor’s note: The following is Mark Yuasa’s monthly fishing newsletter, Get Hooked on Reel Times With Mark, and is run with permission.

By Mark Yuasa, Director of Grow Boating Programs, Northwest Marine Trade Association

The months are flying by faster than a coho hitting your bait in the prop wash.

It felt like “Yesterday” – an ode to a classic Beatles song – when we gathered in Lacey on Feb. 27 to see what the salmon forecasts had in store for us. Now a season package is “Signed, Sealed and Delivered” – did you say Stevie Wonder? – for anglers to digest and begin making plans on where to wet a line.

The process known as “North of Falcon” (NOF) culminated April 6-11 in Portland, Oregon, and I was on-hand as a sport-fishing observer.

JUSTIN WONG HOLDS UP A NICE KING SALMON HE CAUGHT LAST SUMMER IN THE OCEAN OFF WESTPORT. (MARK YUASA, NMTA)

When proposed seasons came to light in mid-March it was like a feisty trophy king tugging on end of a line, which after a long battle unhooked itself at the boat causing the lead weight to smack you right in the eye.

While grief and a swollen black eye set in, you might have been down in the dumps. But, my mantra has been to never whine about what you can’t do or lost (the trophy king in paragraph above), and more on making the most of the present moment.

Life throws you lemons so make sweet lemonade because if you don’t your head will go into a swift-moving tidal tail-spin and turn your fishing line into a messy tangled web of hurt.

The initial good news is environmental conditions – El Nino, warm water temperatures, a “Blob” and droughts – that have plagued us with restrictions going back to 2015-16 appear to be in the rear-view mirror.

Secondly, was the warmth (albeit mixed feelings by some NOF attendees) of unity and transparency between user groups despite a usual difference in opinions over how the whole pie of sport, tribal and non-tribal fisheries was divvied up.

These are signals of “baby steps” in a complicated process that long has been filled with arguments, bitterness, cultural indifference, protests and a fight over that “last salmon” dating back to Boldt Decision.

The true litmus test of how long this “hand-holding” philosophy will last between all parties is essential as we move forward to ensure our iconic Pacific Northwest salmon runs will be around for generations to come. Even more so as we carry the torch of a long-term Puget Sound Chinook Management Plan to the federal fishery agency’s table later this year, which will dictate how we fish from 2019 to 2029 and beyond.

“Now that we’ve finished this process we need to work on being responsible with conservation, habitat issues and simply change our philosophy to create a long-term management plan,” Ron Warren, the WDFW salmon policy coordinator said at conclusion of Portland meetings.

While being mindful of that briny future, let’s go over highlights of our fisheries at hand.

A positive are extended seasons – something that hasn’t happened for several years – for hatchery coho in northern Puget Sound (Area 9) from July through September, and non-select coho in central Puget Sound (Area 10) from June through mid-November. The Puget Sound coho forecast is 557,149.

Another shining star is a South Sound hatchery chinook forecast of 227,420 up 21 percent from 10-year average and a 35 percent increase from 2017.

The northern Puget Sound summer hatchery chinook catch quota is 5,563 – a similar figure to 2017 – and is expected to last one-month when it opens in July.

The elevated forecast is a blessing when south-central Puget Sound (Area 11) opens June 1 especially in popular Tacoma-Vashon Island area. A central Puget Sound hatchery chinook fishery starts July 16 with a cap of 4,743. Area 10 has a coho directed fishery in June at popular places such as Jefferson Head-Edmonds area.

A hatchery king season opens at Sekiu on July 1, and Port Angeles on July 3. Both switch to hatchery coho in mid-August through September.

A summer king fishery in San Juan Islands (Area 7) opens July to August, but September is chinook non-retention.

Late-summer and early-fall coho fisheries will occur in Areas 5, 6, 7, 8-1, 8-2, 11, 12 and 13.

On coast, Ilwaco, La Push and Neah Bay open daily starting June 23, and Westport opens Sundays to Thursdays beginning July 1. Hatchery coho quotas are same as 2017 although chinook quotas are down a decent amount. The popular Buoy 10 salmon fishery opens Aug. 1.

On freshwater scene, a sockeye forecast of 35,002 to Baker River is strong enough to allow fisheries in Baker Lake from July 7-Sept. 7, and a section of Skagit River from June 16-July 15.

The Snohomish, Skykomish and Snoqualmie open Sept. 16 for coho. Sections of Skykomish, Skagit and Cascade open for hatchery chinook beginning June 1. For details on seasons, visit WDFW at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/northfalcon/.

Bounty of May fishing options

There’s nothing more exciting than pulling up a pot loaded with prawn-size spot shrimp during a season that begins May 5.

“I am more positive this year on our spot shrimp projections than the last couple of years,” said Mark O’Toole, a WDFW biologist who is retiring May 18 after an illustrious 36 years with the department, and many thanks for your valued input on shrimp and other fish policies!

BIG PRAWN-SIZE SPOT SHRIMP COME INTO PLAY IN THE MONTHS AHEAD AROUND THE PUGET SOUND REGION. (MARK YUASA, NMTA)

“In general, last year was another good season with relatively high abundance,” he said. “The catch per boat ended up being higher for all areas.”

Look for good shrimping in Strait; San Juan Islands; east side of Whidbey Island; central, south-central and northern Puget Sound; and Hood Canal. Test fishing conducted this spring showed marginal abundance in southern Puget Sound.

Hit pause button on spring chores since trout fishing in statewide lowland lakes is now underway.

Justin Spinelli, a WDFW biologist says 460,000 trout went into Puget Sound region lakes on top of 500-plus statewide lakes planted with 16,840,269 trout – 2,171,307 of them are the standardized size averaging about 11 inches compared to 8-inches in past seasons.

If you prefer a large-sized halibut then head out on May 11. The Washington catch quota is 225,366 pounds down from 237,762 in 2017, and a bump up from 214,110 in 2016, 2015 and 2014. Dates for Neah Bay, La Push, Westport and Strait/Puget Sound are May 11, 13, 25 and 27. Depending on catches other dates are June 7, 9, 16, 21, 23, 28 and 30. Ilwaco opens May 3 with fishing allowed Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays.

Once you get your halibut fix add some black rockfish and lingcod to the cooler. Ilwaco, Westport, Neah Bay and La Push are open for both, and some Puget Sound areas are open for lingcod.

NW Salmon Derby Series hits pause button

While we take a break from a spectacular winter derby series be sure to keep sight of the PSA Bellingham Salmon Derby on July 13-15.

2018 NORTHWEST SALMON DERBY SERIES GRAND PRIZE BOAT. (MARK YUASA, NMTA)

More great news is Edmonds Coho Derby on Sept. 8 and Everett Coho Derby on Sept. 22-23 – the largest derby on West Coast – are likely back on “must do” list. In mean time, check out derby’s grand-prize KingFisher 2025 Falcon Series boat powered with Honda 150hp motor and 9.9hp trolling motor at Anacortes Boat & Yacht Show on May 17-20 at Cap Sante Marina. The $65,000 boat also comes on an EZ-loader trailer, and fully-rigged with Scotty downriggers; Raymarine Electronics; custom WhoDat Tower; and Dual Electronic stereo. Details: http://www.nwsalmonderbyseries.com/.

I’m sprinting out the door with rod in hand so see you on the water!

ODFW Sets Jan. 30 Meeting In Newport To Talk 2018 Halibut Seasons With Anglers

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

ODFW will be asking for public input on the upcoming spring halibut season for the central Oregon coast at a meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 30 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the ODFW Marine Resources Program conference room, 2040 SE Marine Science Dr., Newport.

OREGON HALIBUT ANGLERS ARE BEING ASKED FOR INPUT ON THE 2018 FISHERIES OFF NEWPORT — WHERE JESSICA HERBORN CAUGHT THIS NICE ONE IN 2016 — AND ELSEWHERE ON THE CENTRAL COAST. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

ODFW staff will give an overview of the results of the International Pacific Halibut Commission Annual meeting and the resulting quotas.  Then meeting participants will be able to provide input on the number and timing of “fixed” and “backup” dates for the Central Oregon Coast Subarea (Cape Falcon to Humbug Mountain) spring all-depth halibut season.

People who cannot attend the meeting in person can still participate in one of two ways:

·        Join the meeting via GoToMeeting (see details below).

·        Complete an online survey, which will be posted on the ODFW halibut webpage. (Both the online survey and background materials for the meeting will be posted by mid-afternoon on Monday, Jan. 29 on the ODFW halibut webpage http://www.dfw.state.or.us/MRP/finfish/halibut/index.asp.

·        Anglers may also provide input by contacting Lynn Mattes (lynn.mattes@state.or.us) or Christian Heath (Christian.t.heath@state.or.us) at the ODFW Marine Resources Program, (541) 867-4741.

GoToMeeting DETAILS 

Please join my meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone.

https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/554636005

You can also dial in using your phone.

United States: +1 (872) 240-3412

Access Code: 554-636-005