Southern Oregon's growing fleet of halibut anglers have side-stepped fishing under a quota this year under draft season frameworks expected to be adopted today.
Oregon waters south of Humbug Mountain officially opened May 1 and are proposed to remain open seven days per week through Oct. 31 without a catch quota that would end the season early, the only such reach off the Oregon Coast that would operate without a quota.
The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission is set to vote on the halibut seasons today in Salem.
For years, the South Coast season was set on the May through October framework and no quota.
But marine managers began mulling a poundage quota for the South Coast in 2011, when catches spiked dramatically after local anglers started finding halibut in areas not fished hard in the past.
Anglers logged just 48 pounds of halibut off the Southern Oregon coast in 2009 and 280 pounds the following year, but that jumped to 9,648 pounds in 2011. Last year's landings dropped to 5,130 pounds.
A combination of last year's downturn and a higher-than-expected poundage allocation granted by the International Pacific Halibut Commission convinced Oregon's halibut managers to back off quota talks for this year, says Brandon Ford, marine resources program spokesman for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
"So they kind of let it ride," Ford says. "If we have to ratchet the quota down (next year), they may really look at that and put a quota in place."
With a quota nearly identical to that of 2012, this year's overall halibut season from Cape Falcon to Humbug Mountain looks like a mirror image of last year's — with one exception.
Marine managers have recommended that the near-shore fishery — waters inside the 40-fathom line — in the central and north coast regions be reduced from seven days a week to Thursdays through Saturdays.
Because the near-shore quota of slightly more than 23,000 pounds is close to last year's quota, the move is meant to stretch that quota out longer, Ford says.
Halibut fishing authorized before today's commission vote was opened legally by emergency orders, which the commission will be asked to reaffirm today.
This year's recommended spring all-depth fishing days again are in three-day blocks. The first opened Thursday and runs through Saturday. The next are May 16-18, May 30 to June 1, and June 6-8.
Additional days could be added, depending on catch poundage.
The summer all-depth fishery is recommended to run in two-day sequences beginning Aug. 2-3.
The all-depth days are the most popular with halibut anglers because they can legally venture into the deeper, halibut-rich waters off the Central Coast.
For complete details of 2013 halibut season proposals, see ODFW's marine program website at www.dfw.state.or.us/MRP/finfish/halibut/seasonmaps/2013%20recommendation.pdf
Siskiyou Mountain Club honored for wilderness work
The Siskiyou Mountain Club was recognized last week for the back-breaking work its volunteers have undertaken in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness Area — and elsewhere — the past three years.
The group received The President's Volunteer Service Award on May 4 from the Corporation for National and Community Service. The award was presented at the group's volunteer-appreciation night by Paul Galloway, Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest partnership coordinator.
Over the last three seasons, Siskiyou Mountain Club volunteers have worked more than 3,800 hours to rehabilitate a 28-mile network of trails in the Kalmiopsis, where trees from the 2002 Biscuit Fire have been falling for more than 10 years now, according to SMC Executive Director Gabe Howe.
Each year volunteers work to clear space through the onslaught of new wind-fallen trees and brush that clog the trail corridor. They've bucked thousands of trees that tend to accumulate in the same trail sections. All saw work is done by hand with crosscut saws.
Siskiyou Mountain Club volunteers also work on trail conservation projects in the Wild Rogue, Red Buttes and Soda Mountain wilderness areas.
To learn more about the club, see www.siskiyoumountainclub.org
Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or email@example.com.