In the spring central coast all depth halibut fishing season of 2022 in Oregon, ocean sport fisherman can now land halibut, lingcod, rockfish, and crab on the same trip! Fisherman are applauding the new regulation as a victory for local stakeholders and ODFW biologists. At a time when our voices seem to go unheard at the state and federal government level this story is a positive reminder that sometimes the system does work. Population stock assessments for the Canary Rockfish and the Yelloweye Rockfish have been revised with better data and as a result we are seeing the benefits in our sport fishery this season. This example of fisheries management changes emphasizes the need for revisiting stock assessment done in the past when less was known about the distribution of the rockfish populations and there range. Which is much larger than many imagined. The yelloweye rockfish, slow to recover from past overfishing by commercial net trawlers, has limited many fisheries along the west coast for the past 20 years. The stock, which has very long lived individuals and slow reproduction maturation is been slowly rebuilding and has now reached a level where the sport halibut fishery can have some impact on the population without being as strictly limited for fishing opportunities. Our fishery off the Oregon coast is one of the most protected and healthiest fish populations in the world. The state and federal managers can now allow retention of lingcod and some rockfish species to be kept on the same fishing trip. This is a huge deal for us to be able to retain fish for clients that normally would have to be released. This has added big poundage gains to the amount of fish a client takes home at the end of the fishing trip. At a time when fuel prices and inflation are forcing businesses to increase their prices it is a welcome thing for us to be able to add value to the client on their investment. When our captains take you out, they want to maximize the amount of fish you take home, adding value to your trip beyond just what the experience is worth. In many of the photos now online from our website and newsletters you can see these fish lining the decks right along side the halibut and lingcod.
Reeling, reeling, and more reeling is one of the main things I remember about halibut and bottom fishing trips that I went on as young man with grandpa. It was just part of the trip and the adventure to have cramped arms and sore shoulders after reeling hundreds of feet of 50 lbs. monofilament all day. Grandpa would drive the boat and let us young guys do the work of reeling up fish after he had put us on the spot. Our Penn Pier reels could handle salmon or halibut. One turn of the handle brought in about a foot of line. Drop down and reel up for eternity was just how it worked tired or not. I know if he was with us today he would be right there alongside us and we’d be fishing deeper than ever looking for the big ones with our electric reels. Electric Reels have put the fun back into fishing deep, allowing people of all ages and strengths to enjoy ocean fishing again. The first electric reel I used was on a fishing trip out of my home port of Charleston Oregon with Chinook Charters. Bob pointed the vessel north from port and we headed out on a spring day to fish Tenmile reef using homemade lead jigs weighing about 3 lbs. each! I signed up for the adventure just to see how these new electric reels worked and Bob always could make me laugh. If anyone has fished with Bob you’d know he is quite the character. An ex school teacher from the east coast , he had used all his patience up years ago on kids asking to many questions. Bob has the accent and mannerism of what I image a New York cab driver to be like. On first inspection of Bobs treasured electric reels they were huge and cumbersome; big red amazing and wonderous monstrosities. They hauled those huge 20lbs lingcod, 3lbs jig, and all the line up from 300 feet of water in no time and all I had to do is hold on and push the button. Bob was my newest hero for showing me the way of the future! Now you might say that is cheating but I will tell you what after spending all that time in my youth reeling I felt like I had earned the break! fast forward 20 years and today’s electric reels are much different than what I had used with Chinook Charters. They are smaller, more affordable, and reliable. So when I started Sharkys Charters 9 years ago I had to have a set of them so we could put the fun back into fishing deep for our clients just like Chinook Charters Bob had figured out years ago. What I have learned in the past ten years that has most impressed me about the electric reel advantage, was that anyone now could fish for the deep-water fish as long as I could get them out on the ocean. Young and old especially could now participate in catching fish from the deep. It opened back up fishing to people that couldn’t have done it for health reasons or physical limitations. I like to use them for our trips fishing halibut, deep-water long leader rockfish, and live bait lingcod. Today all our boats here at Sharkys use Diawa Tanacom 750s. If you’d like to learn more about them and use them on your own boat check them out. Push the button and let it do the reeling for you!
Its time for anglers to start booking with us for the upcoming halibut season . Halibut season in Oregon traditionally runs from May thru September. Fishing is good to great throughout the season with limits common on fish in the 20 to 30 lbs. range. Every season a few lucky anglers catch 100 lbs. and larger. We are currently taking reservations for the 2023 season. We anticipate halibut fishing 7 days a week so there should be lots of opportunity to harvest your 6 fish allowed per year. At the time of writing this newsletter the season setting process within Oregon Dept. Of Fish and Wildlife is taking place and comments are being taken on how anglers would like to see the season dates, and bag limits set. I wrote a letter to the department this year asking for 2 halibut per day and allowing us to fish seven days a week. I think that there is a very good chance that in May we will be allowed to harvest 2 halibut per angler a day plus rockfish and lingcod. This would be an awesome number of fish for the effort we all put forth. I expect the season to look a lot like last year weather wise with conditions improving as the season goes throughout the summer. I think we will be able to keep rockfish and lingcod with our halibut in May and June. Then for the remainder of the summer we will be doing long leader rockfish with our halibut combo trips. All of our captains want to see you take home the most number of fish possible on our trips and have a great time while doing it! With 5 six pack boats ready for fishing, we can accommodate large groups or private charters.