|Matt Blume with his “monster” 106-pound halibut caught in August 2007. Last year was the most successful year on record for Oregon Pacific halibut and fishery managers expect another good year when the season opens May 1.
NEWPORT, Ore. – Pictures of Pacific halibut resting placidly on the ocean bottom belie the true nature of this aggressive predator and the challenge the fish poses to saltwater anglers.
“It felt like I hooked the bumper of a Buick on its way to the bottom of the ocean,” said Matt Blume, about the 106-pound Pacific halibut he landed last year. “It was the hardest-fighting heavy fish I’ve ever caught. It took two of us five tries to get it into the boat.”
Blume and other fishers are eagerly anticipating May 1, when the Pacific halibut season opens on the Oregon coast. The nearshore season (inside 40 fathoms) for the central coast (from Cape Falcon to Humbug Mountain) will be open seven days a week. The first all-depth opener for the central coast area is May 8-10. For the Columbia River area (from Leadbetter Point, Wash., to Cape Falcon) the fishery opens May 1, and is open seven days a week in all-depth waters. South of Humbug Mountain the season also opens May 1 and will be open seven days a week through Oct. 31.
Blume caught his fish last August fishing off Newport in about 42 fathoms of water with 50-pound test tackle. The 106-pound fish measured 63.5 inches—a monster, considering most Pacific halibut caught off the Oregon Coast are about 25 pounds.
Oregon saltwater anglers had the most successful year on record for Pacific halibut in 2007. With more than 16,500 fish caught, it topped the previous record high catch in 2006 by 1,500 fish.
This year, the quota set by the International Pacific Halibut Commission is only slightly lower than last year. “This year’s sport halibut quota is more than 250,000 pounds for Oregon,” said Don Bodenmiller, sport halibut project leader for ODFW. “That’s only a 6 percent reduction from last year. So we expect another good year for halibut fishers.”
Below are the exact season dates and quotas for Oregon’s 2008 spring and summer halibut seasons.
Central coast (Cape Falcon just north of Manzanita to Humbug Mountain near Port Orford)
Inside the 40-fathom line (defined by waypoints)
- Open seven days per week, beginning May 1 through Oct. 31 or until the 18,502-pound quota is met
All depth spring fishery:
- Open May 8-10, 15-17, 22-24, 29-31; and June 12-14
- Catch limit is 159,577 pounds
- Backup dates (if sufficient quota remains) are June 26-28; and July 10-12 and 24-26
All depth summer fishery:
- Opens Aug. 1
- Scheduled open days every other Friday through Sunday, Aug. 1-3, 15-17, 29-31; Sept. 12-14, 26-28; Oct. 10-12, 24-26 until the total area all-depth catch limit of 212,769 pounds is taken
Columbia River ports (from Leadbetter, Pt. Washington to Cape Falcon)
- Opens May 1
- Open seven days a week until the 13,133-pound quota is met or July 20
- Opens Aug. 1
- Scheduled open days every other Friday through Sunday, Aug. 1-3, 15-17, 29-31; Sept. 12-14, 26-28 until the total area quota of 18,762 pounds is taken
Open halibut season dates are announced on the NMFS hotline (1-800-662-9825; #5; #1) and posted at www.dfw.state.or.us/MRP
Statewide daily bag limit is one Pacific halibut, no length limit, with an annual limit of six fish. The possession limit is one daily limit at sea and three daily limits on land. Anglers are advised to check the regulations and waypoints for the Stonewall Bank Yelloweye Rockfish Conservation Area at http://www.dfw.state.or.us/mrp/regulations/sport_fishing/stonewall.asp.
During days open to all-depth halibut fishing, most species may not be taken and retained, possessed or landed when Pacific halibut are onboard the vessel except salmon (using authorized methods during authorized seasons), sablefish, tuna and most other offshore pelagic species are allowed (and Pacific cod north of Cape Falcon). For complete halibut regulations go to: http://www.dfw.state.or.us/fish/docs/2008_Sport_Ocean_Regulations.pdf