Halibut season starts Sunday— Don’t miss out, book trips now

This story originally appeared in the South Beach Bulletin

Salmon regulations have been set for 2013.

Will the salmon fishing be good this year? One indicator may be how well the commercial trollers do this week. Their season started yesterday. But the recreational season doesn’t start for another five weeks. So what is happening now probably won’t count for much on Saturday, June 8.

Halibut quota same

In the meantime, we have a halibut season starting this Sunday, May 5. Our quota this year is the same as last year: 42,740 pounds — not fish. The season runs Sundays and Tuesdays until the quota is caught.

Typically, an average halibut in our area weighs 15-18 pounds headed and gutted. So, if we convert to numbers of fish we are looking at around 2,400 to 2,900 critters.

Last season we caught a little over 500 halibut per day. The season lasted just five days.

Unless poor weather, poor catch rate, or smaller fish are the norm this year, we can expect 4-6 days.

On Wednesday, May 15, with four fishing days under our belt, there will be a conference call with halibut managers to determine if there are sufficient numbers of fish remaining in the quota for additional days.

You can contact any of our booking services late Wednesday to get updated season info, particularly regarding Sunday, May 19.

Near Shore fishery

In addition to the directed quota we have set aside 2,000 pounds to accommodate the retention of the occasional halibut caught in the Near Shore area on bottom fishing trips. This fishery is open seven days per week starting May 5 and runs until that quota is caught.

The Near Shore area is defined as the area north of latitude 46-58 and inside the 30 fathom curve. Private boat anglers should review specific Area 2 rules in the Fish & Wildlife regulation pamphlet before venturing out.

Bottom fishing booming

Speaking of bottom fishing, we have been doing quite well lately. Lingcod fishing has been especially good, plus there have been limits of rockfish on most days. Bottom fishing is open 7 days per week.

Derby in full swing

Our 2013 fishing derby is off and running. All of our 2012 grand prize sponsors have signed up again and we are very appreciative of that.

Bob Codiga continues to be our weigh master. You might want to stop by the weigh station when the boats are returning to the dock and chat with him. No doubt he has a fish tale or two to share!

Grand prize sponsors

• Chinook $2,500 — Bank of the Pacific, Basket House Gift Shop, Brady’s Oysters, Seafood Connection, Vacations by the Sea

• Coho $1,500 — Breakers Boutique Inn, Masco Petroleum, One-Eyed Crab Restaurant, Vacations by the Sea, Westport Inn

• Lingcod $1,500 — England Marine Supply, Gifts Ahoy/Sea Shanty, Islander Resort, Totem RV & Trailer Park

• Halibut $1,000 — Bennett’s Restaurants, Fishing Vessel Owners Association

• Tuna $1,000 — Half Moon Bay Bar & Grill, Price & Price, Inc, Timberland Bank