SEASON AND BAG LIMITS
May 1st opened up for halibut and closed again on May 16. That will repeat for June, July and August. If last year is a pattern it will close long before September, so don’t wait too long. One halibut per day, only two hooks per rod.
Rockfish opened on July 15th and will remain open until October 31st. The bag limit is still ten fish, but only five can be blacks. Remember, that blues and the new deacon rockfish look very similar to blacks but don’t counts against the five, so learn to discern the difference. This is the same season structure as in 2015.
Salmon season is the flip side of the halibut season. While halibut is opened the first two weeks of the month, salmon is open the last two weeks of the month for May and June. In July it reopens in mid-month and remains open until mid-August. It reopens again on September 1 thru September 4.
May 1st started out with lots of wind, but a few fishable days have occurred around May 3rd-5th and again about the 10th where there was good success on halibut. Some large fish have been reported up to about 70 pounds in Eureka. It’s closed now but will reopen on June 1st. Crescent City and Trinidad have started out very slow, but Eureka has caught quite a few, with probably one per boat. Rockfish and Salmon are both open now, but it’s very windy and really rough water. On the opener for salmon, a few charters caught their limits out around the dump site, and a few smaller boats joined in on the fun for one day before being blown out. It appears the high winds have created some upwelling that has cooled the water back to 52-55 degrees and krill are being seen. That is an improvement over last year when the water was upwards of 58 degrees all summer. And, Redtail perch are being caught in the surf, whenever the weather allows, so get out there and have some fun.
PFMC GROUNDFISH PROPOSED ACTION FOR 2017/18
Season structures and bag limits are changing next year. Due to the high harvest pressure on black rockfish, the harvest limit is being reduced from our current 420 metric tons (mt) to 332 mt. Our success and concentration of effort in the 20 fathom range up north and 30 fathom in the central areas have caused this. The yelloweye (YE) and canary rockfish restrictions created this “local depletion” problem. Now with the canary being rebuilt, CDFW is trying to get us more time and depth on the water. There are a range of proposals on the table. Basically, all the options for various time-depth increases will require the establishment of “hot spot” closures for YE rockfish. The bag limit will probably be reduced to three, and ling cod will be reduced from three back to two. We will be allowed to keep one canary rockfish.
Back in 2008, the CDFW had proposed a number of Yelloweye Rockfish Conservation Areas (YRCA) in the top half of the State. With the new season structure proposed, the YRCA’s at Point St. George Reef, South Reef, Redding Rock and new “hot spots” west of Devils Gate Rock and further south will be implemented. This is to prevent the increased catch of YE, that are still over-fished and must be released. These YRCA’s and “hot spots” are precautionary and will be reviewed every year for effectiveness. Closures are always a controversial topic, but they are necessary if we are to get increased depth. Be certain you have a release device on your boat to put these fish back down to depth.
Next year petrale and starry flounder are also proposed to be at all depth, so that will give us more opportunity to catch some very tasty flatfish in deeper areas. The final decisions on these proposals will be made at the June 23 PFMC meeting in Tacoma. The briefing book will be out by early June, so the proposals can be viewed at pcouncil.org. Look for the June agenda and briefing book.
Have a good summer and be careful on the bar crossing.