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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

April 20, 2009 at 1:36 PM

Fish for the halibut starting this Thursday

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Got a passion for saltwater flattie fishing?

Then now is the time to start sharpening your hooks when the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca around Port Angeles and clear into Puget Sound opens this Thursday (April 23) for halibut fishing.

In Washington, sport anglers will be allowed to catch 214,110 pounds of halibut compared to 232,807 pounds last year.

In Puget Sound, a quota reduction, combined with a higher catch rate last year, will result in a slightly shorter season.

“Last year’s Puget Sound halibut catch was the highest in 10 years and exceeded the quota, which we don’t want to repeat this year,” said Michelle Culver, the state Fish and Wildlife halibut manager.

State Fish and Wildlife estimates showed that Puget Sound anglers caught more than 80,000 pounds of halibut last year, which exceeded the 59,354-pound quota.

In Puget Sound, good places to try for halibut Mutiny Bay, the old Navy bombing range off Fort Casey, Green Point, Freshwater Bay, and Hein, Salmon, Partridge, Dallas, Eastern and Middle banks.

The Port Angeles and Puget Sound fisheries through June 5, and fishing will be closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

The highly popular northern coastal halibut fishery opens May 14, and if the weather cooperates, anglers should find excellent prospects.

Those who plan to fish for halibut at Neah Bay or La Push should go sooner than later as this fishery gets fished out quickly. Marine Areas 3 and 4 will be open Thursdays and Saturdays only through May 23.

Last year, the North Coast fishery was open three days a week, but closed after two weeks because anglers reached the quota.

If sufficient quota remains, the Areas 3 and 4 fishery will reopen June 4 and 6. If sufficient quota remains after that opener, the fishery will reopen starting June 18. The 3 and 4 catch quota is 108,030 pounds.

Meanwhile, the halibut fishery at Westport (Marine Area 2) will open on May 3 on Sundays and Tuesdays only through May 12. Starting May 17, the fishery will be open on Sundays only until the quota is reached. The northern nearshore area will be open on Fridays and Saturdays in addition to the days that the offshore area is open, until the quota is reached. The catch quota is 42,739 pounds.

Ilwaco will be open for halibut beginning May 1, and fishing will be allowed Thursdays to Saturdays only until 70 percent of the quota is reached, or until July 18. The fishery will then reopen on Aug. 7 and continue three days a week (Friday through Sunday) until the remaining quota is reached, or Sept. 30, whichever occurs first. The catch quota is 15,735 pounds.

The western Strait of Juan de Fuca at Sekiu will be open May 21 through July 3, and closed each week on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

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

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