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Halibut season on the way

April 22, 2018 GMT

Howdy everyone! I hope you have weathered the weather. Boy that sounds wrong, but I’m leaving it. Rain, wind, hail, and sun all on the same day! It’s been a smorgasbord of seasons lately and I have to confess I’m enjoying it. There’s something about the shop stove throwing off heat and making it comfy inside as the wind blows through the vents and the rain pounds on the windows.

As fun as it’s been, it looks like we are getting a window of at least a couple fishable days and Team Basin Tackle plans to take advantage of it and hit the reef to catch some rockfish and lingcod. The last few times out I have been using really light tackle on light action gear and having way more fun than should be allowed. The bigger charters like Betty Kay have been able to get out and fish some of the days that the smaller charters cannot and they are having good results with rockfish and ling for everyone on board. We are also hearing about the black rockfish feeding at surface, which is some of the most fun fishing the ocean has to offer! Surfperch remains good on the beaches but we haven’t seen them coming in to the bay to spawn yet, although that season is fast approaching. Crabbing remains good in the ocean and pretty good in the bay, although quite a bit slower off the docks.

The next noteworthy event around here in the world of ocean fishing is halibut, and it looks like our season might open May 10. Once the season is one hundred percent finalized, we will post all the dates for y’all. Our big reminder here in the shop that halibut season is on the way is our stocking of heavy lead weights, halibut spreaders, hooks, and more. And let’s not forget the bait freezers: baby octopus, large octopus tentacles, jumbo herring, large squid, and so much more are being stocked and readied for bait to catch the giant fish we all love to eat. Our baby octopuses are the coolest and creepiest things we keep in the freezer and boy oh boy do they work! I’m also going to use some tomorrow for lingcod and not share with the other guys on the boat. To quote John Lyly, “all is fair in love, war, and fishing.” Well, perhaps he didn’t mention the fishing part, but it’s true nonetheless.

While we’re on the topic of halibut, we may as well discuss this highly sought after and extremely tasty flatfish. The species most common in these parts is the Pacific Halibut and it ranges from Santa Barbara, California to Nome, Alaska and at its northern range can reach a massive 500 pounds and over 8 feet in length. In our parts we never see halibut anywhere near that size. Locally, we see fish averaging about 40 pounds but last year we saw a couple over a hundred! Pacific Halibut tagged in the Bering Sea have been caught off of our coast all the way down here in Southern Oregon, a trip of over 2000 miles. In addition to their regular migration, halibut will move seasonally between deeper and shallower water, choosing deeper water in the fall and winter.

A female halibut will spawn at about 12 years of age and lay anywhere from half a million to four million eggs which hatch in only two weeks. While they are young and in their larval stage the Pacific Halibut feed on microscopic zooplankton but as they mature their diet changes to include small crustaceans and other small bottom dwelling creatures. Baby Pacific Halibut start their lives swimming upright near the surface and having an eye on each side of their heads just like most fish, but when they reach about an inch in length their left eye migrates to the right side of their head (anyone remember Marty Feldman?) and they go from living near the top of the water to the bottom. At maturity the Pacific Halibut will feed on most anything they can get their mouths on including herring, crab, clams, octopus and even smaller halibut. This is very similar to a seafood buffet I saw in Vegas. Pacific Halibut can live to 25 years at the top end but most don’t make it that long. Halibut can inhabit a variety of ocean bottom types but the most common is sand, preferably next to rocks, this provides both cover and hunting opportunities for the halibut. Hopefully the weather holds out for our Pacific Halibut opener and we can all get out and catch one, if it does I hope to see you out there.