Halibut Limit Reduction?

#1
Considering all the reports about crazy numbers of halibut being landed in the Bay coupled with the current limit of three fish per angler per day, do you think that the daily possession limit should be reduced to 2 fish rather than the current 3 fish reg?

I’m concerned that the fishery could be hit so hard over a season or two that it may lead to many bust seasons for years to come. It seems that most of the fish measure into a narrow slot 22-27 inches or so. And this year the Bay bottom seems to be carpeted with them.

Could too much of a good thing lead to many lean years in the near future?
 
#2
Considering all the reports about crazy numbers of halibut being landed in the Bay coupled with the current limit of three fish per angler per day, do you think that the daily possession limit should be reduced to 2 fish rather than the current 3 fish reg?

I’m concerned that the fishery could be hit so hard over a season or two that it may lead to many bust seasons for years to come. It seems that most of the fish measure into a narrow slot 22-27 inches or so. And this year the Bay bottom seems to be carpeted with them.

Could too much of a good thing lead to many lean years in the near future?

If people keep every legal fish they possibly can every time they wet a line, then sure, it’ll likely impact stocks to the point where stricter limits are put into place. However I think that DFW and their respective fishery stock surveys are way ahead of us; if a bag limit reduction for a particular area (e.g. SF Bay) is being considered we likely would’ve already heard about it since we’re already pretty late into the season.

It would be interesting to see the impact of DFW instituting a slot size for California halibut within the Bay— something like 24”-32”.
 
#3
Considering all the reports about crazy numbers of halibut being landed in the Bay coupled with the current limit of three fish per angler per day, do you think that the daily possession limit should be reduced to 2 fish rather than the current 3 fish reg?

I’m concerned that the fishery could be hit so hard over a season or two that it may lead to many bust seasons for years to come. It seems that most of the fish measure into a narrow slot 22-27 inches or so. And this year the Bay bottom seems to be carpeted with them.

Could too much of a good thing lead to many lean years in the near future?
"And this year the Bay bottom seems to be carpeted with them."
It is talking about healthy and increasing Halibut population in-spite of last and previous years the limit was 3 Halis.
IMHO percentage of that fish, caught by anglers, is miserable to whole their population and to harm caused by pollutions and oil spills... Another sign of Halis abundance is a huge amount of undersized fishes returned back to Bay - much more vs. keepers. It means that next years we will have more adult Halibuts than retains at that season.
 
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Ken Jones

Administrator
Staff member
#4
Hard to say. When I was on the Bay Delta Stamp Committe we argued long and hard with the Fish and Game trying to get them to build halibut rearing nets in the Alameda area (similar to the white seabass efforts down south). They consistanly refused saying that California halibut were not a natural species in the Bay Area. They said they only showed up following warm water years when some would move north and breed. Given the numbers that had been showing up the committee disagreed then (as I imagine they would now). However, we were only "advisory" and they didn't take our advice. It seems to me that halibut are breeding and doing fairly well but who knows if it's a temporary thing since numbers always go up and down due to a number of factors. i.e., water temps and availability of food (anchovies, smelt, etc.).
 
#5
I'm not sure that this and previous years water temps are higher vs. usual. If it is so, we should have mackerel also...
 
#6
IMHO Halibut population (like Stripers) couldn't be seriously damaged by fishermen also because anglers have access only to very restricted area of shoreline. On major territory of Bay Halis could feel themselves very safe. (If not consider see lions and pollutions)
 
#7
I would hope that the DWF keeps a eye on the halibut population, just as it does rockfish and lingcod and may others and is constantly adjusting limits on those species.

FWIW I would OK with reducing the possession limit from 3 to 2, just as it is for striped bass and lingcod right now. I think that is reasonable.
 
#8
IMHO Halibut population (like Stripers) couldn't be seriously damaged by fishermen also because anglers have access only to very restricted area of shoreline.
I was thinking in terms of the total impact that all forms of fishing would have on the population; shore angling, party boats, and private boaters (Should have made that clear in the first post, sorry about that). It also seems that others have had the same concerns. And I don't think it's beyond reason to believe that the current healthy halibut population can take a significant hit due to fishing pressure. About ten years ago when the DFG closed the salmon season, all those boats that would usually be out in chasing salmon came into the bay and focused on halibut. The result of that pressure was a reduced population for some years afterward. The same concerns were raised not too long ago with a late start of the salmon season. Added to that were also concerns about the way so many undersize fish were being handled, which might also lead to significant mortality rates.
 
#9
"...so many undersize fish were being handled..." For many years of fishing I didn't see no one case of keeping undersized fish. Did you? There aren't any concerns about many undersize fish were being handled. Our fishing community doesn't deserve yours suspicions. What I have had seen - very often fishes half or one inches exceeding limit where released.
 
#13
Good questions. I assume the Dept closely monitors halibut populations & harvest levels, considering they are an important part of the commercial fishery in SF bay. So, if harvest or limit reductions were in the forecast, we would know about it already.
Slot limits wouldn’t work for halibut due to high mortality rates of released fish. Which is what Skyhook is referring to above—people catching & releasing many undersize halibut that may be mishandled (e.g., netting an undersize butt then letting it flop on the boat deck before returning it to the water...thats a big No No).
 

Ken Jones

Administrator
Staff member
#14
As for handling undersized halibut, I would say that 90-95% of halibut caught from piers in SoCal are undersized fish while that percentage seems far less in CenCal/SF Bay waters. Two things I hate to see: (1) simply dropping undersized halibut back down into the water from the surface of a per (why not use a net and lower them back down?), (2) anglers using treble hooks on lures for halibut. Careless use of treble hooks can really do a job on halibut (or other fish to be released).

As for the Department of Fish and Wildlife setting limits, I don't have as much respect as once offered. It seems their limits are more often dictated by the Pacific Fishery Management Council than state biologists (just my opinion) and the council, to some degree, often seems more worried about commercial fishing than sport fishing.