California’s recreational Pacific halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepis) fishery season will open May 1. This year the fishery will be held to a federally established quota of 29,640 pounds. The open season dates will be May 1-15, June 1-15, July 1-15, Aug. 1-15 and Sept. 1-Oct. 31, or until the quota is reached, whichever is earlier. The open and closed periods are intended to spread fishing opportunities from spring through fall. Anglers are limited to one rod and two hooks while fishing for Pacific halibut.
Again this year, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) field staff will be stationed at public launch ramps and charter boat landings to monitor catches of Pacific halibut along with other marine sportfish. CDFW will examine observed catch information and compare it with expected catch rates. As the season progresses, CDFW will confer with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and International Pacific Halibut Commission on expected quota attainment. If the cumulative catch is expected to reach or exceed the quota prior to Oct. 31, NMFS will close the fishery.
The 2016 quota is an increase of 4,420 pounds over the 2015 quota.
The public can follow the progress of catch through the season by viewing the Pacific halibut thermometer on the CDFW Pacific halibut website, which will be updated weekly with the latest catch projection information.
Anglers in northern California are also advised to check the open season dates for ocean salmon when planning fishing activity in the Eureka, Trinidad and Crescent City port areas. Due to the low forecasted ocean abundance of Klamath River Fall Chinook, periodic recreational salmon closures have been implemented in these areas for 2016. During May, June and July, anglers will have the opportunity to target either Pacific halibut or ocean salmon, but not both species concurrently.
Pacific halibut are more common off the northern California coast and should not be confused with California halibut (Paralichthys californicus). Before engaging in any fishing activity for Pacific halibut, please check one of the following resources for the most up-to-date regulations:
- National Marine Fisheries Service Halibut Hotline, (800) 662-9825
- CDFW Recreational Groundfish Regulations Hotline, (831) 649-2801
- CDFW Pacific halibut website
Caroline McKnight, CDFW Marine Region, (831) 649-7192
Carrie Wilson, CDFW Communications, (831) 649-7191