Category Archives: Halibut

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Westport Halibut Report May 13

Today was another action packed day of fishing on the Pacific. Our target was a boat limit of Halibut and Lingcod caught in the deepwater canyons at the edge of the continental shelf. Our gear was ready. Our crew was eager. Today would be my third and final day of Halibut fishing out of Westport, and I was in a really good mood! The weather would be beautiful, the water would be calm, and the fishing should be easy. We greeted everyone at the boat early in the morning and cruised out of Westport’s harbor before the sun rose.

On board we had Logan, Blake, Mike, Katie and Danny. All were very excited about our prospects, and as stories and anecdotes from our last we days of fishing were shared, the excitement only grew. We were planning to explore a little today, even though we knew where to easily find a limit of Halibut, it is always a smart move to try out new areas every once and a while.

We headed straight for an interesting piece of deepwater structure that was out 25 miles due west of the entrance to Grays Harbor. Our first drift yielded a few small Halibut and a Lingcod. Not bad! Our second yielded a few unwanted fish, including a Dogfish and a Skate. Not good! While seeing new species is something that I usually enjoy, the folks reeling them up from 500 feet would have preferred it if those fish happened to be something that would’ve added to our needed limits. By our third drift we added our fourth Halibut and third Lingcod to the fish box, as well as a beautiful Bocaccio Rockfish that Katie reeled up. We were two hours into fishing and not even halfway to our fish box. I know that for most this sounds a little overzealous, but when you factor in a two hour run to the fishing grounds and a two hour run back, time is of the essence. So the question: grind it out here or make a move? We made a move.

We cruised north to our favorite little spot at the edge of Quinault Canyon. Today it was home to half the charter fleet, as the captains of the larger charter boats knew they could pretty much guarantee every guest their limit of Halibut. We dropped three lines and hooked three fish instantaneously. We had made the right choice. After releasing the smaller Halibut, we finished off netting our seventh and final Halibut. Our crew felt accomplished, and we were enjoying sore arms under a bluebird sky. With a limit of Halibut resting in the fish box, we had time to seek out our Lingcod. We zipped inshore to a rocky area to dredge some herring. It took only a few drifts to find a limit of Lingcod as well.

Our days catch included seven beautiful Halibut in the 20 to 30 pound range, thirteen Lingcod in the 24 to 33 inch range, a Bocaccio Rockfish and a few Black Rockfish as well. We cruised back to port at a speedy clip, and I had most of the fish filleted and bagged before we had the boat tied up in the slip. Another great day at Westport, it was an awesome day guys!

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Westport Halibut Report May 11

Sunday was our second chance at Halibut fishing in Westport this year. I fished aboard the charter boat Reel Tight with Captain Todd. With the way our trips had been going, we were very excited for another day of fun on the water and expecting to limit the boat on both Halibut and Lingcod for 6 passengers plus ourselves. We knew exactly where to find the Halibut, and while we have a Lingcod spot that is almost a guarantee, Todd was excited to find our guests some big Lings out in a few deepwater spots he had fished years ago.

Me: Great to meet you, my name’s Andrew and I am your deckhand today. (handshake).

Rich: Good to meet you Andrew! So how long have you deckhanded down here for halibut?

Me: This is my second day! Hop in the boat and let’s go!

While the answer shocked Rich somewhat, honesty is always the best policy. The crew had a rookie deckhand for their Westport Halibut trip, but they needn’t be worried. This wasn’t my first rodeo. I have made quite a few trips to Neah Bay with friends, fished for ‘Buts in the Puget Sound, and spent the last 4 years at a fishing lodge in Cordova, Alaska where I had handled more than my fair share of Halibut. But up until last week, I had never been given the opportunity to fish for them in Westport. I can now proudly check that one off the list. So off we went.

We cruised out of the Westport harbor and across a placid Grays Harbor Bar. The ocean couldn’t have been calmer, and I would guess that the swell was under 4 feet and spaced very far apart. Our target was the Quinault Canyon to the northwest of Westport. When we reached the Halibut grounds, we were greeted by about half of the Westport charter fleet plus a few private sportfishing boats, you would think a 5 am departure would give you a head start, I guess not.

It appeared that every guest aboard was excited to be out on this Halibut fishing charter, along with the possibility of taking home a big one. One of the guests mentioned that they didn’t mind releasing “a bunch of chickens” to get that barndoor. I was excited to see a big Halibut as well, but from what I have been told, most of the structure in Westport holds averaged size fish. This is not the land of barn door Halibut. When I mentioned that the average fish we were likely to keep was in the 20 to 30 pound class, they took that statement with a grain of salt.

Eventually our two hour cruise to the Halibut grounds came to an end, as we neared the dozen or so charter boats already fishing at the edge of Quinault Canyon. This deepwater canyon pierces eastward from the ocean’s abyss eastward into the continental shelf. It is along the edges of this canyon where Halibut can be found in high concentrations. We were not the only ones that know this, and the spot we stopped at was one of the more popular spots to fish. We set up for our first drift. For the first drift, we kept things simple and deployed only three lines to lower the chance of tangles. Once our gear reached the sea floor (900 feet beneath the boat), it took about a minute for all three rods to hook up. Three lines, three Halibut on! After a few minutes to battle these fish from the deep, one by one they came into view. First one: 15 pounds, released. Seconds one: 20 pounds, released. Third one: 22 pounds, released. I knew that these fish were close to the average size, but asked the guys if they wanted to keep their fish. “Nope! Let’s try for a bigger one.” So we continued on. After releasing numerous other fish, and witnessing nearby charter boats keeping pretty much every halibut they brought up, the guys decided that the 20 to 30 pound fish we were catching was better than the average. So we filled the fish box. Our Halibut limit was filled before 9am, which gave us plenty of time to search around for some deepwater Lingcod.

Pipe Jigs are a deepwater Halibut and Lingcod angler’s best friend. They are made by filling a copper pipe with molten lead and attaching a huge treble hook. They are simple and don’t give an angler much hassle with fouled gear. They are heavy so they sink fast and stay on the bottom. The contact of the two dissimilar metals creates an electric charge that attracts deepwater fish to strike. We cruised around to a few spots, made a few drifts, and searched for some good rocky deepwater structure. Eventually our search paid off and Captain Todd put us into some excellent fishing. Drift after drift produced multiple quality Lingcod, as well as a few more Halibut that were fought and released. By the end of the day we had our boat limit of Halibut, our boat limit of Lingcod and were very happy with the results of our exploratory deep water Lingcod hunt.

As we cruised back to Westport, I filleted our catch and separated out each guest’s fish into bags. It was a great day of fishing, we had great weather, we had a fun crew. My second day of Westport Halibut fishing was in the books, and I sure can’t wait until we head out again!

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Washington Halibut Seasons 2014

Here in Washington, there are few fish that draw more attention than the Pacific Halibut. Even as I try and stumble through writing this synopsis of the 2014 Washington Season, memories of the Barndoor Halibut we’ve landed, memories of incredibly fast-paced fishing, memories of almost getting pulled in by a just-harpooned-trophy, all those memories of great fishing days and the tonnage of fillets we brought back gets me too excited to focus. There is always a huge amount of excitement and anticipation geared around the upcoming Halibut seasons. This year we should see a great season, both on the Washington Coast and inside the Puget Sound and Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Here is a basic rundown on this year’s seasons and quotas, as always please refer to the Washington Fishing Regulation Pamphlet along with the Official Halibut Season Press Release and the Washington Halibut Reports for every detail.

[table caption=”Coastal Halibut Season 2014″ width=”500″ colwidth=”100″
colalign=”left|left|left “]
Marine Area,Season,Days
MA1 Columbia River (all depths),May 1 until quota (or Sept 30),Thursdays-Sundays Only
MA1 Columbia River (nearshore),May 5 until quota (or Sept 30),Mondays-Wednesdays Only
MA2: Westport (all depths),May 4 until quota,Sundays & Tuesdays Only (Except closed May 25 & 27). Might re-open June 1/3 if quota remains
MA2: Westport (north inside 30 fathoms),May 4 until sub-quota, 7 days a week
MA3: La Push,May 15 until quota,Thursdays & Sundays Only thru May 24 (or quota). Closed May 29-31. Might re-open June 5/7 if quota remains
MA4: Neah Bay,May 15 until quota,Thursdays & Sundays Only thru May 24 (or quota). Closed May 29-31. Might re-open June 5/7 if quota remains.
[/table]

[table caption=”Puget Sound Halibut Season 2014″ width=”500″ colwidth=”100”
colalign=”left|left|left “]
Marine Area,Season,Days
MA5: Sekiu,May 22-June7,May 22-May 25 Thursday-Saturday Only; May 29-31 Thursday-Saturday Only; June 7 Saturday Only*
MA6: East Straits,May 9-June 7,May 9-May 10 Friday & Saturday Only; May 17 Saturday Only; May 22-May 25 Thursday-Sunday Only; May 29-May 31 Thursday-Saturday Only; June 7 Saturday Only
MA7: San Juan Islands,May 9-June 7,May 9-May 10 Friday & Saturday Only; May 17 Saturday Only; May 22-May 25 Thursday-Sunday Only; May 29-May 31 Thursday-Saturday Only; June 7 Saturday Only
MA8-1: Skagit Bay,May 9-June 7,May 9-May 10 Friday & Saturday Only; May 17 Saturday Only; May 22-May 25 Thursday-Sunday Only; May 29-May 31 Thursday-Saturday Only; June 7 Saturday Only
MA8-2: Everett,May 9-June 7,May 9-May 10 Friday & Saturday Only; May 17 Saturday Only; May 22-May 25 Thursday-Sunday Only; May 29-May 31 Thursday-Saturday Only; June 7 Saturday Only
MA9: Admiralty Inlet,May 9-June 7,May 9-May 10 Friday & Saturday Only; May 17 Saturday Only; May 22-May 25 Thursday-Sunday Only; May 29-May 31 Thursday-Saturday Only; June 7 Saturday Only
MA10: Seattle,May 9-June 7,May 9-May 10 Friday & Saturday Only; May 17 Saturday Only; May 22-May 25 Thursday-Sunday Only; May 29-May 31 Thursday-Saturday Only; June 7 Saturday Only
MA11: Tacoma,CLOSED,NO SEASON
MA12: Hood Canal,CLOSED,NO SEASON
MA13: South Sound,CLOSED,NO SEASON

[/table]

Ilwaco Halibut Season

Halibut anglers fishing from Ilwaco will have the longest halibut season in the state. The Marine Area 1 halibut quota isn’t usually reached, meaning that a season could potentially run through September 30. There is a clause in the quota arrangement that if 80% of the quota is reached early in the season, there will be a break to allow some dates later on in the season. At the very least, there is 20% of the quota saved for later in the season! There is also a nearshore halibut fishery at the mouth of the Columbia River that is available.

Westport Halibut Season

Westport hosts dozens of fishing charters that hit the offshore halibut grounds and are joined by many private boaters. Typically the majority of Westport’s fishing fleet heads out to fish along the Quinault, Grays and Guides Canyons way offshore where the halibut are plentiful. There is a nearshore halibut fishery in Marine Area 2 north of the entrance to Grays Harbor and inside of the 30 fathom mark (this inside fishery is mainly designed around allowing folks fishing for bottomfish to keep a halibut if they incidentally catch one). Don’t be surprised if the South Coast Quota is harvested within 5 to 6 days of fishing.

La Push & Neah Bay Halibut Season

Both Neah Bay and La Push are quiet coastal hamlets that become a hive of activity during the halibut seasons. Both harbors fill with boats, every hotel will be at capacity, and the fillet tables will be packed. While the North Coast is allotted 108,030 pounds for the recreational catch, this quota will usually be filled within 4 to 5 days of fishing.

Sekiu & Puget Sound Halibut Season

It seems that every year the Puget Sound halibut fishery becomes even more popular. An on-the-water survey of the angler effort on any day open to fishing will stun the Average Joe. While the Halibut seem to be spread out because there are just so many great fishing areas in the Eastern Straits and Admiraly Inlet, anglers find their fish. Once the annual quota is announced, it allows the state to create a set season which will stay open through June 7.

[table caption=”Washington Halibut Quotas 2014″ width=”500″ colwidth=”100″
colalign=”left|left|left “]
Marine Area,Season,Days
MA1: Columbia River (Early), 9516 pounds
MA1: Columbia River (Late), 2379 pounds
MA1: Columbia River (Nearshore), 2000 pounds
MA2: Westport (Total),42739 pounds
MA2: Westport (Primary),40739 pounds
MA2: Westport (Nearshore),2000 pounds
MA3-4: Neah Bay & La Push,108030 pounds
MA5-10: Puget Sound, 57393 pounds

[/table]

Spring Fishing Thoughts

Spring does not make a great first impression here in the Pacific Northwest. She always teases us with a beautifully warm weekend early in the month of April. We blissfully fill our spring schedule with springtime activities like planting the garden, dusting off the patio furniture and preparing the boat, ready for a warm weather paradise that will stretch clear into fall. But every year, she catches us off guard. Overnight frosts that kill our fragile little garden starts, weeks of gray rain laden clouds, and heavy seas that dash our fishing plans. And although spring toys with our emotions, depriving us of that much needed sunshine we have oh so missed, fair weather eventually arrives. Us folks here in the upper left hand corner of the country know how to capitalize on the short summer we do have. And if you fish, you know that it is merely a struggle to choose how to manage your time, our options are many. My interests usually steer me toward the Sound.

As spring approaches, we have so many great places to fish that it is only the limiting factor of time that forces us to pick and choose our favorites. I am always eager for April’s Razor Clams, Coastal Lingcod and Hometown Trout.

I find myself beaming with joy at the chance to head west and enjoy our early morning clam digs on the beach. As folks step onto the sand at Long Beach, Grayland, Ocean Shores and Copalis, the amount of great enjoyment seen in the smiles of so many really shows how a little trip to the coast can wipe away the memory of a wet and dark winter.

A chance to fish for Lingcod and Rockfish in the Pacific is one I won’t miss, and every spring I make a concerted effort to head to Westport. I think it is an amazing opportunity we have, to hop on a Charter and explore the open ocean, and to carry home fillets from a dozen healthy bottomfish for under a hundred dollars.

As April surrenders to May, that final weekend is one of many firsts. I should say, many first fish. Hundreds of thousands of folks grab the tackle box and poles and head to their local lakes. It is an impressive feat to stock thousands of lakes across Washington with millions of trout, but the state does that to give families the chance to enjoy easy fishing near home. Many lakes are stocked well, and fishing can remain good into early summer, but that first weekend is a real slam dunk. The fish might not always be the biggest, but they bring a lot of joy and create plenty of memories for young anglers.

The rule book is mailed out and immediately every boat owner in Seattle has requested time off to go shrimping. Our Sound has a great abundance of Spot Shrimp, but the popularity of the fishery allows for only a few shrimping days a year, lest we over harvest our tasty resource. A Saturday here, a Wednesday there and it seems that it ended as quickly as it began. But the resource managers know that it takes a lot of work to go shrimping, so when it is open, we each get a healthy limit of 80.

Just as folks are readying their shrimping gear in anticipation, Halibut and Lingcod seasons open up in marine areas from Astoria to Bellingham to Olympia. May is a heyday for fishermen in the state, and the chance to keep Lingcod one day, Spot Shrimp the next and Halibut the day after that keeps us plenty busy. So even though the Great Northwest is defined by Salmon, us fishermen have plenty to keep us preoccupied before they arrive. Good luck out there!

2013 Puget Sound Halibut Season

The 2013 Puget Sound, San Juan Islands & East Straits Halibut fishing season has been announced! It will be similar to last season, with a quota of 57,393 pounds.

The Puget Sound Halibut season is based on a catch quota. The challenge is to offer a season that will come close to harvesting that quota without the possibility of overfishing.

Check out the WDFW PUGET SOUND HALIBUT PAGE for the most updated information about our 2013 halibut fishing season.

WDFW HALIBUT SEASONS SHORTER IN PUGET SOUND, PROVIDE EXTRA WEEKEND DAY ON SOUTH COAST

2013 Halibut Season for Puget Sound, San Juan Islands & Eastern Straits

Marine Areas 6 (East Juan de Fuca Strait), 7 (San Juan Islands), 8-1 (Deception Pass, Skagit Bay), 8-2 (Port Susan, Port Gardner), 9 (Admiralty Inlet), & 10 (Seattle, Bremerton).

  • May 2-4 (Thursday, Friday, Saturday)
  • May 16-18 (Thursday, Friday, Saturday)
  • May 23-26 (Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday) **Memorial Day Weekend**
  • May 30-31 (Thursday, Friday)

Marine Areas 11 (Tacoma, Vashon), 12 (Hood Canal), & 13 (Southern Puget Sound)

  • These marine areas will remain closed to protect Rockfish species.

**As always, consult the Washington Fishing Regulations & look into any possible emergency closures before you go! Good luck out there!

Halibut Curry Chowder Recipe

Halibut Lingcod Curry Chowder Recipe

Halibut Lingcod Curry Chowder offers a unique twist on traditional chowder recipes. This recipe is very simple and is made with ingredients found at any common grocery store. Preparation and cook time is around 45 minutes. This recipe serves 4-6 people. The measurements for spices are a recommendation; and as always, feel free to tinker with the spices until you get the flavor you desire.

Ingredients

  • 2 slices of bacon diced
  • 1 Walla Walla sweet onion chopped
  • 4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes cubed
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 3 cups half & half
  • 1-2 pounds halibut or lingcod cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup celery chopped
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • dash of chili powder to taste

Directions

In a large stock pot over medium heat, cook bacon then stir in chopped onion, cubed potatoes and butter until the onion is cooked and translucent. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to med-low and let simmer for 15 minutes. Add half & half, halibut, celery and spices and simmer for about 15 minutes (Test a few halibut halibut chunks for doneness).

Serve Halibut Lingcod Curry Chowder with broiled Peasant Bread. Butter sliced Peasant Bread, on the middle oven rack, allow to broil on low until lightly browned.