Pacific halibut season opens May 1

By Larry Ellis, fishing columnist April 25, 2014 07:07 pm

Only moments after being given instructions on how to cast by an ODFW employee on Thursday, Kalmiopsis third grader Clarissa Johnson proudly holds a 2-pound trophy rainbow trout that she caught in Arizona Beach Pond.

 

WARNING — The Flatfish General has warned that being smoked by a white-hot halibut could be hazardous to one’s health — especially if you’re a Pacific halibut on opening day!

Since the Pacific halibut season closed on October 31, anglers have waited 181 agonizingly-long days for the season to reopen again, and on Thursday, May 1, anglers between Humbug Mountain and the Oregon/California border will get their first chance to slay the fatted flattie.

This year, the rules on catching Pacific halibut have changed somewhat, although most general Pacific halibut regulations will still remain the same.

The area between Humbug Mountain and the Oregon/California border is now called the Southern Oregon Subarea. The limit is still one Pacific halibut per day; three daily limits on land. But the Southern Oregon Subarea now has its own separate quota from the rest of Oregon, which is 3,712 pounds.

Also remember that anglers fishing for rockfish cannot fish deeper than the 30-fathom curve, which is defined by a set of waypoints available on the ODFW website.

If you’re fishing in the Southern Oregon Subarea, you are still allowed to catch and possess rockfish while you are fishing for Pacific halibut, but only under certain circumstances.

For instance, you cannot catch and keep rockfish and lingcod, and then fish for halibut beyond the 30-fathom curve, since you would be transporting your already-caught rockfish and lingcod past the 30-fathom curve (which is forbidden).

So if you want to conduct a combo trip, and intend on fishing for halibut beyond the 30-fathom curve, do your halibut fishing first, and after you are finished, then come inside of the 30-fathom curve to catch your rockfish and lings.

You are only allowed to fish for rockfish and lingcod first, and then fish for halibut if you are fishing for Pacific halibut inside of the 30-fathom curve.

TROUT FISHING STILL REMAINS STELLAR

Local-area lakes and ponds still continued to kick out limits of rainbow trout last week such as Garrison Lake in Port Orford, with trout ranging between one-half and 3 pounds.

Stealing the spotlight was the Arizona Beach Pond just 12 miles north of Gold Beach, a youth-only waterbody, where limits of rainbows as well as plenty of 2-pounders were caught in copious quantities. The fishing should remain stellar throughout the coming weekend and into next week.

This age-17-and-younger facility entertained busloads of third graders from every grade school in Curry County. Helping teach the children how to outsmart, catch and land their very first trout were ODFW employees and volunteers from a variety of organizations such as the Oregon South Coast Fishermen (OSCF), the Curry Anadramous Fishermen (CAF), and several well-known fishing guides including Gary and Val Early as well and Chris and Tim Young who also volunteered their time.

“This was the last day (Thursday) of four days of fishing and riparian education that every third grade student gets every year,” says Rich Heap, the Oregon Sportfishing Representative on the PFMC Salmon Advisory Sub-panel. “As far as I know, this is the only program in the state where every third grade student gets to participate in something like this. There are a lot of good aquatic education programs around, but this one is pretty unique.”

Thursday was probably the best fishing day I had ever witnessed at Arizona Pond. The surface of the entire pond was marshmallowed with red-and-white bobbers, plastic floats that were attached to rods that were grasped by kids who had never held a pole in their lives. The action was fast and furious, with often two or three fish brought to the net in several minutes.

ODFW, CAF and OSCF has their rigging down to a science now. Rig up your trout rods their way and see if your luck doesn’t improve as well.

Start with a reel loaded with 8-pound test leading to a loop at the end of the line. Buy a package of number 8 snelled hooks and attach one of the loops of the snelled hooks through the loop at the end of your mainline.

About 3 feet above the hook, attach a round 3-inch red-and-white plastic bobber. Where the loops are entwined, attach two split shots to help get your hook down in the water. On your hook, attach a small piece of night crawler, a PowerBait Nugget, a few Pautzke’s Green Label Balls O’ Fire salmon eggs, or a Crappie Nibble and cast away.

I love using the white Berkley Crappie Nibbles. They put out more scent than any other bait I’ve ever used. Add just one to your setup and watch your limits soar.

Tight lines!