2012 halibut quota up 8.7 percent; sport seasons will be set today

It's time to get out your calendar and start planning if you hope to take part in the flotilla of fishers targeting Pacific halibut during the popular and productive all-depth openers.

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission today in Salem is set to adopt the sport halibut seasons and divvy up the quotas.

This year's overall halibut quota is 8.7 percent higher than last year's, and knowing which days are open to halibut fishing is important for Rogue Valley anglers looking to book charter halibut trips.

Anglers targeting the halibut-rich Central Oregon zone from Cape Falcon to Humbug Mountain — including the halibut hot-spots of Garibaldi, Newport and to a lesser extent Charleston — are expected to have a spring all-depth season that sports a 120,821-pound quota.

The all-depth season is when anglers get to travel outside the 40-fathom curve to hit the deeper waters where halibut tend to be larger and more prevalent, and they are grouped in three-day openers staggered in May and June.

The spring days recommended by ODFW biologists are May 10-12, May 17-19, May 24-26 and May 31-June 2.

Because bad weather can lead to spring anglers not catching their entire all-depth quota on those days, ODFW has a set of back-up days that will be added, in order, until the quota is reached. Those days are June 14-16, June 28-30, July 12-14 and July 26-28.

Any leftover poundage in the quota will be rolled over into the popular summer all-depth fishery, which will see two-day fishing clusters until the entire all-depth quota of 168,766 pounds is caught.

The dates recommended to the commission for the summer all-depth season, in order, are Aug. 3-4, Aug. 17-18, Aug. 31-Sept. 1, Sept. 14-15, Sept. 28-29, Oct. 12-13 and Oct. 26-27.

Even if those days are set, it doesn't mean they will all be open for halibut. The season ends when the poundage quota is taken.

The near-shore halibut season for Central Oregon has grown in popularity in recent years as more anglers trying their hand at halibut have found fish.

This year's near-shore season there opens May 1 and runs daily inside the 40-fathom line until the quota of 23,014 pounds of halibut is reached. The season will close Oct. 1 if anglers don't catch the quota, but that is considered highly unlikely.

The ocean south of Humbug Mountain is not as productive for halibut, and this year it has its familiar season of May 1 through Oct. 31. Fishing is open daily and there is no quota.

Halibut anglers are reminded that bottomfishing is open only inside the 30-fathom line, so those planning a two-prong fishing day who want to fish near the 40-fathom curve should fish for halibut before heading back to shallower water for bottomfish.

The limit is one Pacific halibut of any length, and the annual quota is six per person.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtribune.com.

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