Halibut fishery may reopen May 21

Catch data for Puget Sound is not available but State Fish and Wildlife will assess catches after Thursday to see if fishing can reopen on May 21 and possibly May 25.

There are a boat-load of spring fishing activities worth your time, but one has come to an unexpected end.

The halibut fishery got off to a decent start during the two opening dates – May 4 and last Saturday – off the coast, Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound.

“The halibut fishing was pretty good off the coast, and we’ve got enough left in the sport catch quota that fishing will be open (Thursday), and then we’ll reassess catch data to determine what areas can reopen on May 21,” said Heather Reed, a state Fish and Wildlife policy coordinator. “Anecdotally I know folks didn’t have great success in Puget Sound, but until we get the numbers we won’t know for sure.”

Anglers during the first two days of fishing at Westport caught 27,2035 pounds with 21,072 left in the quota; and at Neah Bay and La Push they’ve caught 43,517 pounds leaving 72,082 in the catch quota.

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Catch data wasn’t available for Puget Sound so it is a bit too soon to know if it will reopen on May 21.

“I know it is critical for anglers, resorts, marinas and staff to know if it will reopen, but we need to make sure the catch data is accurate,” Reed said. “We should know by early next week.”

State Fish and Wildlife will assess catches after Thursday to see if fishing can reopen on May 21 and possibly May 25. Beyond that, if enough remains in the quota then it could reopen on June 1 and/or June 4.

Ilwaco on southern coast fishing is allowed Thursdays through Sundays of each week. The near-shore fishery off Ilwaco is open Mondays through Wednesdays of each week. The marine-wide limit for halibut is one daily with no minimum size limit.

Lingcod fishing is open in most areas of Puget Sound, but action remains spotty to fair at best.

Places worth trying for lingcod are Possession Bar on the south side of Whidbey Island; the breakwaters at Elliott Bay, Shilshole and Edmonds marinas; Point Evans; south of Hat Island; southeast of Alki Point near the green buoys; and Toliva Shoal.

Thousands of anglers turned out for last Saturday’s popular spot shrimp opener, and word of it reopening should come to light by Thursday.

“Hood Canal wasn’t as good as it should have been and people in southern Puget Sound struggled, but places like Bainbridge Island were really good,” said Mark O’Toole, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist. “I should have preliminary catch data and know what we plan to do by Thursday.”

One place where anglers can still bank in more spot shrimp fishing is Hood Canal, which is open May 17 and 20 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day.

The Discovery Bay shrimp season is also open May 17 from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. The San Juan Island South and East sections are open daily through May 21….

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