DFW declares recreational Pacific halibut fishery as off to a “great start”

An estimated 2,500 pounds of the flatfish were caught during first few days of the season, which started on May 1.

STATEWIDE—More than 2,500 pounds of halibut were caught in the first five days of the 2019 season, according to California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) staff. The preliminary data has DFW staff declaring the 2019 recreational Pacific halibut season as being “off to a strong start.”

California’s recreational Pacific halibut fishery season kicked off on May 1. Many anglers took to the water despite ocean and weather conditions that were less than ideal.

“Since opening day on May 1, many north coast anglers have braved less-than-perfect weather and ocean conditions and were successful in pursuing this highly prized fish,” DFW staff said in a published statement. “Preliminary catch data available to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife … through the first five days of the fishery indicates almost 2,500 pounds of fish were caught.”

At least one DFW staff member stated the preliminary data reads as if offshore halibut catches were being made in July or August.

“This is a level of success more typically seen during the summer months,” DFW Environmental Scientist Melanie Parker said.

Members of the public can track the Pacific halibut fishery’s season catches, particularly in relation to the state’s annual quotas, on the DFW Pacific halibut website; the website is updated weekly.

“The fishery is scheduled to be open through Oct. 31, or until the quota has been met, whichever comes first. The 2019 quota is 39,000 pounds, approximately 8,000 pounds greater than last year,” DFW staff stated.

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Halibut Hotline and DFW’s Recreational Groundfish Regulations Hotline also provide the updated information on the flatfish season status. Call 800-662-9825 or 831-649-2081 for the most up-to-date information on the fishery.

“State regulations for Pacific Halibut automatically conform to federal regulations using the process described in the California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 1.95,” according to DFW staff. “Federal regulations for Pacific halibut were published in Federal Register 84, section 17960, on April 29, 2019 and took effect as of that date.”

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