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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

May 16, 2012 at 11:55 AM

Westport halibut fishery so good that fisheries managers are evaluting catches today

PAHalibutMay2012.jpg

The coastal halibut catches remain so good off Westport that state fisheries managers are meeting this afternoon (Wednesday, May 18) to discuss how long it will remain open.

“We want to make sure we have enough in the quota to remain open this Sunday (May 20), and I’m comfortable we can get through until then,” said Heather Reed, the state Fish and Wildlife halibut manager. “Then it gets iffy once we get beyond that (currently Westport is scheduled to reopen on May 22). If we have to make change we’ll send out a news release by tomorrow (Thursday, May 17).”

While Westport remains the hot spot for halibut, Ilwaco just to the south has also seen an increase in halibut catches.

“Westport continues to be really good with almost one-fish (daily) limits for private and charter boats, and the weather was more cooperative,” said Wendy Beeghly, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist. “Ilwaco improved to half-a-fish per person on charters, and almost three-quarter of a fish on private boats.”

Beeghly says the average weight of fish caught at Westport dropped this week to about 14 pounds dressed weight, which equals to 18 pounds in the whole.

At Ilwaco, the average weight of the halibut is 20 pounds dressed and for now they remain OK as far as their catch quota goes.

On the northern coast, “they faced some terrible weather conditions, and we heard the current was nasty and anglers had trouble getting their lines down to the bottom,” Beeghly said.

At Neah Bay, anglers averaged a third-of-a-fish per rod during last Saturday’s (May 12) opener, and La Push did slightly better with half-a-fish per rod.

“For now they are OK as far as the quota goes, although we had a lot of effort at Neah Bay and La Push,” Beeghly said.

Anglers in the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca and open Puget Sound areas saw fair halibut catches when it was open last Thursday to Saturday.

Halibut fishing is allowed Thursdays to Saturdays only through June 2 in the eastern Strait and Puget Sound, except for the Memorial Day holiday week when it is open May 24-28.

The western Strait off Sekiu opens May 24 to June 23 from Thursdays to Saturdays only, except for the Memorial Day holiday week when it is open May 24-28.

(Photo courtesy of Paul Wood, and pictured is his friend holding a 65 pound they caught while fishing out of Port Angeles.)

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