WDFW confirms Aug. 6 opening of coastal halibut recreational fishing

WDFW – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife today confirmed its Aug. 6 opening of coastal halibut recreational fishing, which was previously delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Puget Sound Marine Areas 5 – 10 will also re-open with additional fishing days.

“Although it looks a bit different from the typical halibut season that anglers might be used to, this approach continues to prioritize health and safety, economic investment into port communities, and time out on the water,” said Heather Hall, WDFW’s intergovernmental ocean policy coordinator. “We’re thrilled to see this season come together since envisioning it alongside stakeholders and public health officials earlier this summer.”

The department is asking anglers to continue to opt for trips close to home and practice physical distancing by keeping 6 feet apart.

Anglers should also be sure to check ahead of time if their preferred fishing destination or launch area is open; many launches and beaches are managed under local, tribal, or federal jurisdiction, and may not be operating normally.

The Makah and Quileute Reservations, including marinas and all services, remain closed to visitors. 

Neah Bay on the Makah Reservation and La Push on the Quileute Reservation represent the primary direct boat access in Marine Areas 3 and 4.

As a result, those fishing in these areas will have to launch from, and land in, other areas that are also open for halibut fishing.

Anglers fishing in Marine Areas 3 and 4 must follow all rules and regulations for that area, regardless of where they return with their catch. 

Anglers should check the Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations and WDFW’s emergency rules page at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/ before heading out, and download the Fish Washington mobile app for up-to-date regulations at their destination.

Coastal halibut season:
Marine Areas 1 (Ilwaco/Chinook) and 2 (Westport) All-depth: Open Thursday August 6.  Then beginning August 13, open two days per week, Thursdays and Sundays, through September 30 or until the quota is taken.  If the number of anglers participating and the number of halibut caught is lower than expected, additional days may be added. 

Proposed additional days are, Friday, August 28; Friday, September 4; and Friday, September 11.
When fishing in the deepwater lingcod closed area in Marine Area 2, anglers can keep lingcod on days open to all depth halibut fishing.  

In Marine Area 1, during the all depth fishery, anglers can retain flatfish, sablefish, Pacific cod, and lingcod north of the Washington-Oregon border when halibut are on board.

Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco/Chinook) Nearshore Area: Open Monday August 10. The nearshore fishery in Marine Area 1 will be open three days per week, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday until the nearshore quota has been taken. Bottomfish may be retained with halibut on board in the nearshore area only.

Marine Areas 3 (La Push) and 4 (Neah Bay): Open Thursday, August 6. The fishery in this area will be open three days per week, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, August 6 through September 30 or until the quota is taken.

Puget Sound halibut season:
Marine Areas 5 – 10 (Puget Sound):
 Open Thursday, August 6. The fishery in this area will be open three days per week, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, August 6 through September 30 or until the remaining quota is taken.

In all marine areas open to halibut fishing, there is a one-fish daily catch limit and no minimum size restriction.

Anglers may possess a maximum of two halibut in any form while in the field and must record their catch on a WDFW halibut catch record card.

There is an annual limit of four halibut. Recreational fishery samplers will be available to collect catch information at fishing access sites throughout Puget Sound and the coast while practicing physical distancing guidelines.

Because halibut fisheries are managed to a quota, closures could happen quickly and anglers should check the WDFW website to ensure a specific area is open prior to fishing.

Complete information on recreational halibut regulations and seasons is available online at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/halibut.