The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced additional recreational halibut fishing dates for August and September.
“Responding to angler interest we opened the Puget Sound region five days per week in early April, however sufficient quota remains to provide more opportunity to harvest halibut,” said Lorna Wargo, WDFW intergovernmental ocean policy coordinator. “And to extend this opportunity to anglers that have caught their four fish annual limit, we’re temporarily increasing it to six fish.”
The 2023 fishing season is based on statewide recreational quota of 291,950 pounds. The annual catch quota is the result of a fixed annual allocation that the International Pacific Halibut Commission approved in early 2023 for fisheries in Washington, Oregon, and California. This approach, which has been in place since 2019, has allocated a total of 1.5 million pounds to all halibut fisheries off the West Coast and Puget Sound in 2023. The consistent annual allocation provides stability for recreational fisheries from year to year.
Additional 2023 coast and Puget Sound halibut dates:
- Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound (Marine Areas 5, 6, 7, 8-1, 8-2, 9, and 10): Open daily from Aug. 17 through Sept. 30, or until catch quota achieved. The Marine Area 5 to 10 overall quota is 79,031 pounds.
- Neah Bay and La Push (Marine Areas 4 and 3): Open daily from Aug. 17 through Sept. 30, or until catch quota achieved. The combined quota for both areas is 129,668 pounds.
- Westport/Ocean Shores and Ilwaco/Columbia River (Marine Areas 2 and 1): The all-depth fishery will be open Aug. 26-27, Sept. 8-9, and Sept. 22 only. The Marine Area 1 nearshore area is open Mondays through Wednesdays if there is sufficient quota. The coordinates for the nearshore fishery are available on the WDFW webpage. The Marine Area 1 all-depth fishery will be managed to 18,375 pounds; the nearshore quota is 500 pounds. The Marine Area 2 overall quota is 64,376 pounds.
- Hood Canal and southern Puget Sound (Marine Areas 11 and 13): Closed.
The updated rules also include temporarily raising the annual halibut bag limit to six fish in all marine areas. Anglers who have already purchased a halibut catch record card (CRC) will be able to obtain a free supplemental CRC with two halibut lines. Anglers who have not yet obtained a halibut CRC will receive the supplemental halibut CRC when they purchase a halibut CRC. The supplemental CRC will be available for purchase in early August. Anglers are reminded that the quickest way to obtain a fishing license and/or CRC is directly from a dealer. Online transactions take between seven and nine business days to arrive by mail.
In all marine areas currently open to halibut fishing, there is a one-fish daily catch limit and no minimum size restriction. Anglers may possess a maximum of two fish in any form while in the field and must record their catch on a WDFW catch record card.
Other fishing regulations include depth restrictions and area closures designed to reduce encounters with yelloweye rockfish, which must be released under state and federal law. Anglers are reminded that a descending device must be on board vessels and rigged for immediate use when fishing for or possessing bottomfish and halibut. Information about descending devices can be found on the WDFW’s webpage.
WDFW is hosting a virtual public webinar meeting regarding the recreational Pacific halibut fishery from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 2. Halibut managers will review the 2023 season and take input on general ideas for structuring the 2024 season to present as preliminary options during the Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting at the Doubletree by Hilton Spokane City Center on Sept. 7-14.
Anglers can find complete information on recreational halibut fishing regulations and seasons on the WDFW halibut webpage. For full fishery details and regulations, see the emergency rule change at WDFW’s website. Permanent regulations can be found in the 2023-24 Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet.
To be notified of in-season rule changes as they are announced sign up for email notifications at wdfw.wa.gov/about/lists.