The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced the recreational coastal bottomfish season opens Saturday, March 11 with new rockfish regulations.
The new regulations are specific to copper rockfish, quillback rockfish, and vermilion rockfish. Possession of the three rockfish species will be prohibited in May, June, and July, when peak effort for bottomfish occurs. This restriction is intended to reduce catch to stay within state specific federal harvest limits.
Recent scientific assessments for the three rockfish species indicate populations are likely healthy but smaller than previously understood.
Allowing possession and retention of these three rockfish species during March, August, September, and October supports collection of crucial biological information such as length and age which are important for future scientific assessments.
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 WDFW’s webpage.
“The use of descending devices to release rockfish that can’t be kept is an effective way to improve their survival,” said Lorna Wargo, WDFW intergovernmental ocean policy coordinator. “We’ve been pleased at the way anglers have adopted the regular use of descending devices to release rockfish as a responsible fishing practice.”
2023 coastal recreational bottomfishing seasons
- Ilwaco, Westport-Ocean Shores, and La Push (Marine Areas 1, 2, and 3) and Neah Bay (Marine Area 4 west of Bonilla-Tatoosh) will open March 11 through Oct. 21. Daily aggregate limit is nine bottomfish and includes a sub-limit of seven rockfish. Daily limit is two lingcod and one cabezon per angler and no minimum size restriction. New for 2023 – Possession prohibited for copper rockfish, quillback rockfish, and vermilion rockfish in May, June, and July
- Neah Bay (Marine Area 4 east of Bonilla-Tatoosh) is open year-round for bottomfishing. Lingcod fishing is open March 11 through Oct. 21. Daily aggregate limit is nine bottomfish and includes a sub-limit of seven black, blue and deacon rockfish, and yellowtail and widow rockfish. Daily limit is two lingcod and one cabezon per angler and no minimum size restriction.
A bottomfish limit doesn’t include halibut, which has a daily limit of one halibut, and an annual limit of four halibut.
Surfperch and shiner perch are not part of the bottomfish limit. Surfperch has a daily limit of 12 and shiner perch has a daily limit of 15 and no minimum size restriction. Fishing is open second Saturday in March through the third Saturday in October except open year-round from the beach.
Fishing for, retaining or possessing Sixgill, Sevengill, and Thresher sharks is closed in all Marine Areas. A Sixgill shark may not be removed from the water.
For additional information, regarding seasons, daily limits, gear rules, depth restrictions and bottomfish closure areas, please see the Washington Sportfishing Rules pamphlet webpage.