Only 13 Days For Sound Halibut Anglers

Peter Leutz was none too happy when saw this year’s halibut season proposals.

Eager to dip Halibut Hound, his Sea Swirl, into Puget Sound’s Area 9 this spring, he was furious to learn last month that there might be just 12 days of fishing – less than half last year’s total and only one-third of 2008’s.

Leutz, a Seattle cop, describes halibut fishing as his “passion,” “hobby” and part of his “soul.”

“It feels like it’s being ripped away from me,” Leutz told me.

I phoned up a state fishery manager to find out what was up. She explained that the proposed three-day-a-week fishery (’09’s was four, ’08’s five) was due to the Fed’s overall 15 percent lower quota for halibut, as well as anglers crashing quotas by 57,000 pounds last year and 30,000 the previous season.

Leutz wasn’t buying it.

“It’s disgusting,” he said. “My boat’s been sitting since September. I’ve made $8,000 in payments. And now only 12 days of fishing – minus weather …”

Turns out we’ll actually get … 13 days in the Sound.

WDFW announced this morning that fishing in Marine Areas 6 through 10 (Strait, Port Angeles Admiralty Inlet and Everett) will be open three days a week (Thurs., Fri. and Sat.) May 1-30, except for Memorial Day weekend when they will be open Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Marine Area 5 (Sekiu) will be open May 28 through June 19 on the same schedule.

The 2010 combined catch quota for these areas is 50,542 pounds.

Elsewhere, the seasons are as follows:

Columbia River (Ilwaco): Marine Area 1 will open May 1, three days a week, Thursday through Saturday until 70 percent of the quota is reached, or until July 18. The fishery will then reopen on Aug. 6 and continue three days a week (Friday through Sunday) until the remaining quota is reached, or Sept. 27, whichever occurs first. The 2010 catch quota is 13,436 pounds.

* South Coast (Westport/Ocean Shores): Marine Area 2 will open on May 2, two days a week, Sundays and Tuesdays.  During the fourth week in May the fishery will be open Sunday only (May 23).  Beginning the following week the fishery will resume the Sunday, Tuesday structure until the quota is reached.  The northern nearshore area will be open seven days per week, until the quota is reached. The 2010 catch quota is 35,887 pounds.

* North Coast (La Push/Neah Bay): Marine areas 3 and 4 will open on May 13, two days per week, Thursdays and Saturdays, through May 22. If sufficient quota remains, the fishery will reopen June 3 and 5. If sufficient quota remains after that opener, the fishery will reopen starting June 17. The 2010 catch quota is 101,179 pounds.

Marine areas 11 and 13 will be closed to protect rockfish, which may be caught incidentally by anglers fishing for halibut.  Three rockfish species in Puget Sound are currently under consideration for listing under the federal Endangered Species Act.

As in previous years, Marine Area 12 (Hood Canal) will remain closed due to low dissolved-oxygen conditions.

Portions of marine areas 2, 3 and 4 also will be closed to fishing for halibut and bottomfish to reduce the chance that anglers will unintentionally catch yelloweye rockfish. Retention of canary and yelloweye rockfish is prohibited in all coastal marine areas.

All Washington waters open to halibut fishing have a one-fish daily catch limit, with no minimum size, and a possession limit of two fish in any form.


2 Responses to “Only 13 Days For Sound Halibut Anglers”

  1. Peter Leutz Says:

    There are just so many excuses to reduce the halibut fishing and the excuse about incidental rock rish catches is just rediculous. When I talked to the Inter. Pac. Halib. commis and Wa. state fish and wildlife, neither of those agencies EVER mentioned efforts to reduce rockfish catches. The very first thing I was told was that there are too many people interested in halibut fishing these days and halibut has become popular and something has to be done. (Of course now I wish I recorded those conversations.)
    So now the state is using the “rockfish” excuse. In 10 years of halibut fishing, Ive never caught a rockfish in the puguet sound area while fishing for halibut in Puguet Sound or even in the Straits. And Alaska still gets to catch 20 million of pounds of Halibut. For years the states has been bragging on how vibrant our halibut populations are. And the only reason our state went to the staggard halibut fishing days a few years ago, was to KEEP TOURISM alive in small coastal communities. Small towns didnt thrive when fisherman caught their limits too quickly! So now the rockfish excuse comes into play (because we “may” catch rockfish). Hmmm, seems like commercial guys win the vote again. Maybe we should all park because we “may” get into an accident.
    Oh, and why open halibut fishing in May? May is when the rockfish enter the Puguet Sound area and they are more likely to be caught.

  2. True Barn Door Caught In Straits « Northwest Sportsman Says:

    […] year, season was open 31 days, he says, this year only 13 days due to reduced quotas from Federal […]

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