The 2019 recreational Pacific halibut fishery will open Wednesday, May 1 and remain open until Oct. 31, or until the quota is reached, whichever is earlier. The 2019 Pacific halibut quota for the California subarea is 39,000 pounds – about 8,000 pounds greater than the 2018 quota.
Pacific halibut have become a popular target species for north coast anglers in recent years, with some fish tipping the scales in excess of 80 pounds.
Since 2014, the California sport fishery has been subject to closed periods during the season to slow catches and spread fishing opportunities out over more months, but with the higher quota amount for 2019, the periodic closures aren’t necessary this year. California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) conducted an online survey in February to collect input on preferred 2019 season dates. More than 200 responses were received during the two weeks the survey was available.
The season dates are expected to continue to meet the goal of providing as much opportunity throughout the season while ensuring the quota is attained. The open dates are not guaranteed days, and the season could be closed early if it is determined that projected catches will exceed the California quota.
Again this year, field staff will be stationed at public launch ramps and charter boats landings to monitor catches of Pacific halibut along with other marine sportfish. If the catch is expected to reach or exceed the quota prior to Oct. 31, a closure date will be determined and the public will be notified.
The public can follow the progress of catch through the season on the CDFW Pacific halibut webpage, which will be updated weekly. Up-to-date information can also be obtained by calling the National Marine Fisheries Service Halibut Hotline at (800) 662-9825 or the CDFW Recreational Groundfish Regulations Hotline at (831) 649-2801.