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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

March 12, 2014 at 1:29 PM

Three coastal areas open this Saturday for lingcod fishing

6098292722_596f2e5a84 Anglers will get their first chance to head onto the ocean in what is expected to be a wonderful fishing season starting off first for lingcod and black rockfish, followed by halibut in May and salmon later this summer.

The coastal lingcod fishery will open Saturday (March 15), and lingcod populations are very abundant along the south-central coast, which a little more than a ago they were deemed overfished by a heavy commercial fishery.

Lingcod fishing off La Push, Westport and Ilwaco will remain open daily through mid-October. The minimum size is 22 inches, and the daily limit is two lingcod.

The added bonus in spring is that charters will head out first in the morning to target abundant black rockfish (10-fish daily limit), then pursue lingcod in deeper waters.

Crossing the bar at these three ports can be dangerous during the spring months, mostly due to fast-changing weather and rough ocean conditions. Those planning to venture out on their own boat should make sure everything is in good working order and their boat is seaworthy.

Those new to the fishery should stay with a charter business, since they know the hot spots in the vast ocean off the coast.

Lingcod prefer an uneven bottom along rocky pinnacles, ledges, drop-offs, reefs and jetties. Good lingcod bait are flounder, kelp greenling, horse herring or artificial scampi-type jigs.

The northern coast off Neah Bay opens April 16 for lingcod.

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These fisheries will be followed by the halibut season off Neah Bay and La Push which opens May 15 with fishing allowed Thursdays and Saturdays only through May 17. Catches will then be assessed to see if additional openings are possible.

Last year, the northern coastal quota was gobbled up in the first three days of fishing. The catch quota this season is 108,030 pounds.

Westport, on the south-central coast, opens May 4 with fishing allowed Sundays and Tuesdays only through May 20. Catches will also be assessed for additional openings. There will be a near-shore halibut fishery off Westport open daily beginning May 5 until the quota is achieved. The catch quota is 42,739 pounds, and 2,000 pounds is reserved for the near-shore fishery.

Ilwaco opens May 1 with fishing allowed Thursdays to Sundays. This area will remain open during spring and summer unless 80 percent of the quota is caught before mid-July. There will also be a near-shore halibut fishery beginning May 5, and is open Mondays to Wednesdays.

The Ilwaco quota is 9,516 pounds for the early-season and 2,379 pounds for the late-season fisheries

The limit in all marine areas will remain one halibut daily with no minimum size limit.

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