NEWPORT – Sport anglers will have an additional three days to fish for Pacific halibut off the Oregon central coast this week, as remaining quota from the spring all-depth season allows an opening June 30 through July 2.
“If the weather cooperates, there should be plenty of sport anglers on the Oregon coast and we could easily reach the quota during this holiday weekend,” said Don Bodenmiller, sport halibut project leader for the Marine Resources Program of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. “If the weather is bad and we don’t reach the quota, we will have more fishing opportunities later in July.”
The spring all-depth season from Cape Falcon (30 miles south of the Columbia River) south to Humbug Mountain (south of Port Orford) had 12 open dates in May and June. The three additional days were added because anglers didn’t reach the spring quota of 173,372 pounds.
With nearly 41,000 pounds still available to the fishery, more days may be added if the quota is not reached during this opening. Any additional dates will be July 14, 15, 16, 28, 29 and 30. If there isn’t enough available quota to offer three days, preference will be given first to Saturday then to Friday, Bodenmiller said.
The open days will be announced on the National Marine Fisheries Service hotline (1-800-662-9825) and posted on the ODFW Marine Resources Program Web site at: www.dfw.state.or.us/mrp. Click on the picture of the halibut.
This year’s sport and commercial combined halibut quota is 1.33 million pounds for Oregon, California and Washington. That’s down about 10 percent from last year, but is about the same as the quota for the 2002 and 2003 fishery.
The daily bag limit for Pacific halibut is one fish and the annual limit is six. One regulation change to this year’s season is that there is no minimum length for Pacific halibut. In previous years, halibut less than 32 inches long had to be released off Oregon and California. Another change for 2005, sport anglers do not have to keep the first fish they catch.
The high-relief area of Stonewall Bank is closed to halibut fishing to reduce incidental catch of yelloweye rockfish and canary rockfish. Both species are considered over fished and must be released immediately. The closed area is defined by latitude and longitude waypoints, which are available on the Marine Resources Program Web site.
For the summer all-depth sport halibut season the quota for the Oregon central coast is 57,791 pounds. The fishery will be open on the following dates until the quota is taken: Aug. 5, 6, 7, 19, 20, 21 and Sept. 2, 3, 4, 16, 17, 18, 30 and Oct. 1, 2, 14, 15, 16, 28, 29 and 30. More days and possibly a second fish to the bag limit will be added if the catch is low, Bodenmiller said.
Sport anglers are reminded that possession of groundfish is not allowed north of Humbug Mountain when a Pacific halibut is aboard their vessel during all-depth Pacific halibut dates. The one exception is sablefish (black cod), which may be retained with halibut in May and October. Other non-groundfish species, such as tuna and salmon during authorized seasons, may be possessed with halibut on open all-depth Pacific halibut days.
The fishery along Oregon’s central coast is open seven days a week inside 40 fathoms until the 20,101-pound quota is reached or Oct. 31, which ever occurs first. The fishery remains open seven days a week south of Humbug Mountain. The fishery north of Cape Falcon is closed.