The Pacific halibut season is quickly approaching. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife have both recently announced that the season will open on Wednesday and run though Oct. 31 or until the quota is met on both sides of the border.
California anglers will also be allowed to get back out in search of bottomfish starting on Wednesday.
Although fishing options are set to expand next week, anglers have still been catching fish on the Wild Rivers Coast this week with spring salmon biting on the Rogue River, a few late downrunning steelhead caught on the Smith River, and solid bottomfishing north of Brookings when ocean conditions allow anglers to get out.
Pacific halibut season
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife officially adopted regulations for the upcoming Pacific halibut season last week.
The Southern Oregon Subarea, which stretches from Humbug Mountain south to the Oregon-California border, will open on May 1. The fishery will be open seven days a week with the season running through Oct. 31 or until the area’s quota of 11,322 pounds has been caught.
In Oregon the quota is rarely met.
“They never fill the quota on the Oregon side between Humbug Mountain and the border,” said Andy Martin, of Wild Rivers Fishing. “We caught halibut last year in the first week of May. The first calm weather day we had we went out there and there were fish around. So as soon as it calms down enough to where people can get out in the deeper water and not have too much of a drift, there is a change of getting them.”
The daily bag limit for Pacific halibut is one, with no length limit. Anglers are allowed to possess up to three Pacific halibut on land.
Inseason changes can be found online at https://www.dfw.state.or.us/MRP/ or by calling the National Marine Fisheries Service hotline at 1-800-662-9825.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife officially announced the Pacific halibut season on Friday, and it looks to be a little bit more generous season than sportfishermen in California have had in recent years.
Not only is the 2019 quota of 39,000 pounds higher than last year’s total by 8,000 pounds, the fishery will also remain open until the quota has been caught rather than the periodic closures that have become the norm for Pacific halibut fishermen in California over the last four seasons.
“Since 2014, the California sport fishery has been subject to closed periods during the season to slow catches and spread fishing opportunities out over more months, but with the higher quota amount for 2019, the periodic closures aren’t necessary this year,” the CDFW said in a press release.
Even with the fishing closures over the last few years, the California quota is caught pretty much every year. To view in season estimates on how much of the quota is left for the season visit https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Marine/Pacific-Halibut#31670772-in-season-tracking.
Up to date information about the Pacific halibut season can also be obtained by calling the National Marine Fisheries Service hotline at 1-800-662-9825.
Although the weather has not been ideal, there are still lots of bottomfish to be caught out of Brookings when the weather cooperates.
“We have had a couple good days this week, and then we have had some rough weather,” Martin said. “The forecast has been rough all week but there have been a few days where it has been foggy, and it has been really nice. On the days where it is nice the fishing has been good, but on the windier days when we are forced to go south it hasn’t been as good. There are a lot of fish from Bird Island north in close.”
Martin said sportcrabbers are also getting several crab per pot on half day soak. Most of them are close to the size limit, with a few keepers in the mix.
California sportfishermen will soon be able to join their Oregon counterparts in targeting rockfish and lingcod with the bottomfishing season set to open in Northern California on May 1, and continue through Dec. 31.
The daily bag limit in California will be 10 rockfish per day with a sub-bag limit of three black rockfish, three cabezon, and two canary rockfish. The daily bag limit for lingcod in California is two.
Bottomfishermen in California must say within 30-fathom through Oct. 31, with no depth restrictions for bottomfishing from Nov. 1 through the end of the year.
With the Chetco River now closed to fishing and the end of the steelhead run on the Smith River quickly approaching, the best river fishing in the region has been on the Rogue River where the spring salmon run is in its early stages.
Joe Martin of Rogue Coast Sport Fishing said the bite has been hit and miss this week. Fishing was as good as it has been yet this season early in the week, but dropped off significantly on Wednesday and Thursday. Martin said this is fairly typical for this time of year on the Rogue.
Martin also said that even during slow days there are still salmon being caught.
Down on the Smith, the river remains open for steelhead fishermen through the end of the month, but the run already seems to be on its last legs. A few down-running steelhead have been caught from the banks this week, and a few lucky anglers may be able to nab another fish or two before the closure, but the fishing has been tough.
Surf perch fishing
It is peak surf perch season and anglers have been catching lots of fish in the waves off of beaches on both sides of the California-Oregon border.
“This weekend should be an ideal time to go for perch if people can’t make it out on the ocean,” Andy Martin said.
Joe Martin of Rogue Coast Sport Fishing at 541-425-7210; Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing at 206-388-8988; Englund Marine Supply Company at 464-323.
Reach Michael Zogg at email@example.com .