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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

May 7, 2012 at 4:30 PM

Coastal halibut opener good at Westport and Ilwaco, and Puget Sound fairly decent, but spotty in eastern Strait

The eastern Strait of Juan was just ho-hum for halibut fishing, but places further into Puget Sound and the exposed banks seemed to be better.

“It wasn’t real exciting in the Port Angeles area, and it was on the windy side and the minus low tides didn’t help,” said Larry Bennett, a state Fish and Wildlife checker in the Strait. “There was a few lucky anglers who caught some fish up to 80 pounds, and hopefully it will get better soon.”

“Last year during the opener it was almost a fish per boat average, and that was the highest I’ve ever seen it,” Bennett said. “It was not anywhere near that this time, and the biggest was 80 pounds on first day of the season.”

Halibut fish checks:

Ediz Hook ramp, Port Angeles — May 3: 126 boats with 284 anglers caught 38 halibut and two dogfish; May 4: 83 boats with 179 anglers caught 18 halibut and one flounder; May 5: 104 boats with 227 anglers caught 26 halibut; May 6: Two boats with three anglers caught no fish.

Port Angeles West ramp — May 3: 44 boats with 99 anglers caught 17 halibut; May 4: 37 boats with 80 anglers caught 16 halibut and one Pacific cod; May 5: 57 boats with 133 anglers caught 16 halibut.

Olson’s Resort, Sekiu — May 6: Four boats with 12 anglers caught one lingcod, 15 rockfish, five kelp greenling and one cabezon.

John Wayne Marina, Sequim — May 3: 50 boats with 120 anglers caught 18 halibut.

On the other hand halibut fishing was fairly good at Mutiny Bay on the west side of Whidbey Island, and a 140 pound halibut was caught off Dallas Bank.

“We’ve had good reports from just about everywhere, and the halibut fishery was exceptionally good,” said Mike Chamberlain at Ted’s Sports Center in Lynnwood. “We got lots of good reports from Mutiny Bay, and the outside banks. We had lots of our customers on opening day of halibut fishing that had gotten limits, but also had some that got skunked.”

On the southern coast at Westport and Ilwaco the halibut opener was also pretty productive.

“They did pretty well at Westport, and we saw a lot of limits with fish averaging around 18 pounds,” said Wendy Beeghly, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist. “The winning fish in the Westport Derby Sunday was a 40 pounder, and all the charters were loaded down with customers. There was also a lot of private boat effort.”

Beeghly says preliminary reports from Ilwaco showed a handful of boats got out, and found fair halibut fishing.

Ilwaco is open for halibut Thursdays to Saturdays each week. Westport is open this Tuesday and Sunday (May 8 and 13), and May 20 and 22.

Many are anticipating what should be a short, but sweet halibut fishery off Neah Bay and La Push beginning Thursday (May 10). Both areas are also open this Saturday (May 12), and May 17 and 19.

“I expect a pretty good turnout at Neah Bay and La Push,” Beeghly said.

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