CDFW California Halibut Recreational Fishery Webinar


Active Member
The CDFW will be holding a webinar to discuss management of the California halibut population along the coast. On August 12th the discussion will center on the recreational fishery. The information for those that may want to attend can be found in the link below. According to statements on the CDFW webpage, California halibut have been listed as one of the species that may be in need of "scaled management" due to various factors including the bycatch of undersize fish.

As far as I can tell, some of the discussion will center around fixing and adjusting stock assessment modeling from past years, and gathering further data to get a better read on fishery. I'm hopeful that some definite progress can be made. But my gut feeling is that the CDFW is a little late in trying to get a handle on the fishing pressure, especially in SF Bay, that halibut are experiencing.

Ken's comment about working with the Department to better the halibut fishery in the Bay some years ago is pretty revealing: "When I was on the Bay-Delta Stamp Committee back about a decade ago the committee recommended and voted for a project to raise and release California halibut in San Francisco Bay near Alameda. The Fish and Game Director vetoed our vote saying that California halibut were not native to San Francisco Bay and thus the Fish and Game Department felt it was a poor use of money. We disagreed but all projects had to be approved by the Director. It was one of many projects we pushed that actually involved fish but by and large the department seemed to have its own agenda and preferences. After many years and many hours of meetings no one on the committee voluntered for another term (and it was an impressive group of people). One of the negative lessons in dealing with the department".

California Halibut Scaled Management Process
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Active Member
I was able to attend the entire Webinar. This was the meeting specifically for the Recreational Fishing Sector. There were about 47 in attendance. Nor Cal represented 41% of the attendees, So Cal 30% and Central Cal 26%. Most of those in attendance were boat, skiff or kayak anglers. Shore fisherman only made up 4% of the group. The event was coordinated by Strategic Earth. The management process is still in the information gathering phase. Below are some highlights of the concluding comments and suggestions about areas of concern from attendees.

Humboldt Bay Activity
In the past few years Humboldt Bay has been seeing an increase in catches of California Halibut. An attendee from the area felt the fishery was in good shape and mentioned the fishery can fluctuate from season to season, but he also suggested a two fish limit for the Humboldt Bay, with future management working toward increasing the stock, not just sustaining.

Bycatch of Undersize Halibut
Attendee suggested CDFW increase awareness of the way to properly handle and release undersize fish. This is especially so in San Francisco Bay where larger fish seem to show up early in the season, but the rest of the season tends to be dominated by small and undersize halibut. One angler remarked that in his experience during some parts of the season, 1 keeper was landed per 10 shorts.

Impact On Halibut Fishery Due to Salmon Closures and Limitations.
The CDFW was made aware of the relationship between the halibut fishery and the salmon fishery, particularly in San Francisco Bay. Closed Salmon seasons, or late starts to the season, usually result in more pressure on halibut in the Bay. It was suggested that a more flexible Management system needed to be implemented. This would allow for anticipation of issues that would affect the halibut fishery due to limitations or closures of other fisheries, and allow for in-season adjustment to halibut fishing regulations. For example, if the CDFW decided to close the Salmon season or to open the season late, flexible management would allow the department to institute a two fish limit on halibut caught in San Francisco Bay instead of the three because of the anticipated pressure halibut would then experience in the Bay.
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Red Fish

Senior Member
I joined the meeting late leaving work late. Good information seminar and breakout rooms (I was in the recreational breakout room on Zoom). A lot of talk about Gill netting and it’s impact. There were at least 2 commercial guys in the recreational anglers breakout room discussion.

A short update 08/21/2021 with just a couple sentences. Just reiterating a few points and results of the meeting and what effect it may have on recreational fishing by land or sea.

  • "One angler remarked that in his experience during some parts of the season, 1 keeper was landed per 10 shorts."
  • This has been 'par for the course' this season even for pier anglers in the S.F. Bay
  • The reasons for a watchful eye over the halibut population: 1. Gill nets/bycatch of shorts 2. commercial halibut fishermen 2. Climatic changes affecting salmon and water diversion resulting in no or short salmon seasons putting more fishing pressure on halibut as a "go to" by partyboats
  • Finally, cause and effect: reducing the number to 2 halibut a day limit
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A friend of mine who has been an avid fisherman for decades felt that with 30 people on 30 party boats limiting on Halibut nearly everyday inside the gate has been a disaster to the fishery. Taking nearly a 1000 fish a day out of the bay for months on end is the problem. Party boats should only be allowed to fish outside the gate for halibut was his idea.