Bottomfishing Closure

Discussion in 'Saltwater' started by Chris Bellows, Jul 25, 2012.

  1. Chris Bellows

    Chris Bellows Your Preferred WFF Poster

    WDFW News Release

    July 24, 2012
    Contact: Heather Reed, (360) 249-1202

    Recreational bottomfishing
    will close off north coast

    OLYMPIA – Ocean waters off the north coast of Washington will close to recreational bottomfishing after midnight Thursday (July 26) to protect yelloweye rockfish, a species federally recognized as overfished.
    The closure, announced today by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), affects sport fishing for rockfish, lingcod, Pacific cod, and all other bottomfish in Marine Area 3 off La Push and the portion of Marine Area 4 west of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line off Neah Bay.
    Heather Reed, a WDFW fish biologist, said the closure is necessary to avoid exceeding quotas on yelloweye rockfish established under a federal stock-rebuilding plan. While it is illegal to retain yelloweye, Reed said anglers sometimes intercept the species while fishing for other bottomfish.
    “Anglers took most of the quota as bycatch during the popular north coast halibut openings in May,” Reed said. “That didn’t leave us any margin for bottomfish seasons off the north coast for the rest of the year.”
    Seasons for most bottomfish species are generally open year-round.
    Reed noted that the early closure applies only to Marine Area 3 and the coastal portion of Marine Area 4 west of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line where the federal quota and rebuilding plan are in place.
  2. Jonathan Tachell

    Jonathan Tachell Active Member

    Wow that blows.
  3. Chris Bellows

    Chris Bellows Your Preferred WFF Poster

    And it is back open until Labor Day

    North coast bottomfish fishery
    will remain open through Labor Day

    OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today that the recreational bottomfish fishery off the north coast of Washington will remain open through Labor Day, postponing a closure previously set for Friday (July 27).
    A new regulation approved today will allow sport fishing for rockfish, lingcod, Pacific cod and other bottomfish to remain open through midnight Sept. 3 in Marine Area 3 and the western portion of Marine Area 4 off La Push and Neah Bay.
    “This is good news, not only for anglers but also the coastal communities whose economies rely on these fisheries,” said Heather Reed, a WDFW fish biologist. “We know that a month of fishing means a lot to people on the north coast.”
    The bottomfish season is open year-round, with the exception of lingcod which is closed during the winter month.
    Reed said the previous closure date, announced earlier this week, was designed to avoid exceeding yelloweye rockfish quotas established under a federal stock-rebuilding plan. While it is illegal to retain yelloweye, federally designated as an “overfished” species, anglers sometimes intercept the species unintentionally while fishing for other bottomfish.
    “Anglers took most of the quota as bycatch during the popular north coast halibut openings in May,” Reed said. “That didn’t leave us any margin for bottomfish seasons off the north coast for the rest of the year.”
    Since then, however, the department has learned that the June yelloweye catch was lower than expected, and that yelloweye catch reserved for coastal research projects will be lower than originally anticipated.
    “This new information gives us some flexibility to minimize the impacts to our coastal communities and allow our recreational bottomfish fishery to remain open through Labor Day,” Reed said. “We still have to close the fishery early, but not as early as we had thought.”
    Reed said the department plans to look for ways to address high yelloweye harvest rates in the early season to avoid the need for early bottomfish closures in future years.
  4. Jonathan Tachell

    Jonathan Tachell Active Member

    Way to flip flop WDFW. My guess is they got a lot of shit from the coastal communities and sport anglers and decided to keep it open through the summer by coming up with some BS excuses or fudged numbers. Oh well this is good news for me since I will be up there in August. I don't even know why they are closing it anyway considering you can't fish deeper than 120 feet from shore and usually yellow eye are caught much deeper. You think they would be more concerned with commercial bottom trawlers and tribal long liners than sport fisherman.
  5. Joepa

    Joepa Joe from PA

    That's good news, I guess. I wasn't looking forward to seeing a million boats around Waadah and east of Tatoosh next trip pounding on the remaining lings and black rockfish left in those areas. I just got back from 4 days at Neah fishing inside, and the rockfish and ling cod fishing was the worst I've ever experienced out there. Far fewer fish in the typical spots and the fish did hook there were smaller than normal. I did manage to find some decent numbers of rockfish in some new locations, but overall it was notably slower. Sad to see most folks insist on taking their daily limit of those fish.
    Don Freeman likes this.
  6. Chris Bellows

    Chris Bellows Your Preferred WFF Poster

    well said. i wonder if in 10-30 years we'll look back on the pictures of trash cans and wheelbarrows full of rockfish like we view the pictures of huge stringers of trout from years past.
    JesseCFowl and Ed Call like this.
  7. Anil

    Anil Active Member

    No doubt you and I agree on this one.
    Nothing like seeing 10+ year old fish headed for freezer burn.
    It's hard not to. Historically, Rockfish limits have been decreasing in the Puget Sound urban areas.
    The farther you get from the metro area, the more you can keep. These limits keep getting smaller and the higher limits keep getting farther and farther away: You can't keep any fish in most of the South and Central Puget Sound. Further North, the limit is 1, then 3, then 10 at the coast. As the populations get decimated, the State just keeps moving the higher limits further away.
    When will the WDFW learn that you can't set a 10 fish limit on a fish that reproduces that slowly? If it didn't work anywhere else, why keep doing it?
    Ed Call likes this.
  8. Chris Bellows

    Chris Bellows Your Preferred WFF Poster


    the reason why wdfw manages the way they do is because "we" keep pushing for high limits whenever the discussion arises. read any non-fly fishing forum and you will hear many mentions of trips not being worth it if freezer filling are not a part of the trip. people's own fishing experiences, like joepa's, make little difference to managers when the majority of sports anglers continue to push for as high of limits as possible.

    most of us who have spent any length of time fishing neah bay have seen declines in the numbers and size of rockfish in the easy to access spots inside the strait. more and more people just fish further away in a quest to find the fishing they once had close in. the bigger boats have this option. those of us with smaller boats do not. we are forced to stay close for poorer fishing or take chances we shouldn't.

    this doesn't mean that rockfish should be a catch and release fishery, only that moderation is a good thing. i really like eating rockfish, but i keep enough to eat 1-2 meals (happens to be a fish or two) and not worry about filling a freezer in one trip.
  9. Chris Bellows

    Chris Bellows Your Preferred WFF Poster

  10. mbowers

    mbowers Active Member

    Some of the deeper water species are on a 100 year recovery plan! That means maybe our great grandchildren will hopefully see fishing as good as our parents did.

    At least black rockfish have a much faster growth rate and can likely handle more pressure. There should probably be a different limit for blackies than the other slower growing species, but that would require a pretty good level of competence at fish ID.

    This page indicates the fish have probably spawned by the time they get to this size

    Seafood watch recommends black rockfish as a BEST choice so I wouldn't fault a guy for taking a limit of blackies IF he uses it all before it freezer burns.
  11. Chris Bellows

    Chris Bellows Your Preferred WFF Poster

    it is interesting if you look at the rockfish limits for canadian marine areas. nowhere in the province do they allow as much harvest as we do off the washington coast. this includes the queen charlotte islands.

    what is even more amazing is alaska has lower rockfish limits than we do.

    those two facts should tell you something about our limits and whether they are truly sustainable.
  12. mbowers

    mbowers Active Member

    As far as I could tell the most generous Canadian / Alaska limits are similar to the Washington limits at 5 / day 10 / possession and 10 / day 20 / possession compared to what looks like 10 / day in Washington. The Canadian limits just across Juan de Fuca are pretty limited though at 1 / day around Victoria and a really short season from May 1 - Sept 30. It takes me three fishing trips to make a family meal of three 12" quillback rockfish which I feel are the most responsible rockfish I can keep in the area. I stick to the shallower water / smaller fish even though I know of places I can quickly boat bigger fish from deeper water. Good for the rockfish but bad for my carbon footbprint.. [​IMG]

    All the info I could see online shows generally good populations of black rockfish. If you have a local issue I sincerely wish whoever is up to the battle luck in getting the regs adjusted appropriately or just informing enough of the public to scale back the harvest in that area. I am all for strict limits until populations recover, but I do really like keeping a fish or two to eat fresh. I suspect it will serve everyone who fishes much better to attack the legal limit itself with an appropriate letter rather than someone who has retained the legal limit.. [​IMG]
  13. Chris Bellows

    Chris Bellows Your Preferred WFF Poster

    I'm not seeing a 10 fish daily limit anywhere in BC. The highest I can find is 5, which is half of our coastal limit. Looking briefly at AK (Kodiak and SE regions) it looks to me like the non-pelagic limit is 5 fish per day. I did not see a single instance of any limits as high as ours. Our limit is a throwback to an era when we did not know any better. We know better now and during one of the recent rule proposal cycle the offshore limit was decreased to six if I remember correctly. The outcry from the fishing public and charters pushed the limit back up to ten leaving six in area 4B.

    Nobody is saying rockfish should be zero harvest and I agree in attacking the rules and not the fishermen. The problem I see so often is that people can still fill limits relatively easily that the declines we have seen are ignored because the fishing is still good.
  14. mbowers

    mbowers Active Member

    As I read this
    It looks to me like 5 pelagic rockfish (black) PLUS up to 3 non-pelagic for residents for a total of 8 rockfish daily and possession of up to 16 rockfish.

    Alaska Peninsula and Aleutians rockfish looks like it's 10 / day 20 / possession with no species restrictions. The daily limit in BC regions 1-10 (up north of WA but way south of Aleutians) is only 5 but the possession is 10 so someone on a 3 day trip could bring back 10 as long as they retained 5 or less on any given day.. Same total kill as the trip in discussion. Is there a possession limit in WA or if you get your catch to land anywhere other than your permanent residence you can catch another limit tomorrow?

    Personally I really like separating the pelagic (relatively fast growing) from the non-pelagic rockfish (very slow growing), if it actually works in Alaska maybe that thought can be brought south to BC and beyond..

    Does anyone know the correct address to write to with comments on fishing regulations? Is it ?
  15. Chris Bellows

    Chris Bellows Your Preferred WFF Poster

    i missed the aleutians and AK peninsula (eyes went right to the kodiak limits)... but other than there, washington state has the highest limits for black rockfish. does that sound right? to me comparing the aleutians to skagway rock or umatilla is crazy.

    yes, fishing for 2-3 days in BC allows as many fish as one day in WA but let's compare apples to apples. the daily and possession limit on the washington coast is double the limit in the queen charlotte islands. does that sound right?

    also to compare apples to apples, let's not forget that BC has far longer salmon and halibut seasons which result in far less targeted rockfish fishing compared to the washington coast. the decreasing length of seasons and increasing targeted fisheries along the washington coast actually make the higher limit worse imo. talk to most old timers that fished the coast when halibut and salmon seasons were longer and the majority did not even bother with rockfish. they were considered a pest, not a target. that mentality is common still in many places with wide open seasons but no longer exists on the coast.

    i want to enjoy bottomfishing for the rest of my life at the levels currently enjoyed today or better. it won't happen with a 10 fish limit.

  16. mbowers

    mbowers Active Member

    Since WA apparently (unless you're on a boat?) has a double daily possession limit then yes WA does have twice the limit of the queen charlottes and that sure seems backwards. As far as increased directed pressure at rockfish, I guess I don't know anyone that targets rockfish in BC except for myself and thought WA would be similar. I used to see guys out catching bottomfish but in the last few years with the dramatically reduced limits I don't see ANYONE. If most guys can't catch a salmon, lingcod or a halibut they just won't go fishing IMHO.

    Amen to the same or better fishing in the future, I just don't know what the right limit is but I hope science is used appropriately to determine it. California seems to have a 10 rockfish a day limit and claims to have 70% of virgin stocks of black rockfish which sounds like a pretty good level compared to before man started exploiting them. If I can have 70% as many fish in the sea as our forefathers and get to use all the modern gear I'm pretty sure I'm catching more than they would have. That said, I've got no problem with dropping the limit to 2-3 fish a day (enough to feed 4-6) until scientific evidence shows the stock can support more pressure and still return good fishing.

    I don't know if it's true for WA but in FL and BC the number of anglers is dropping every year, so even if limits remain the same, the number of fish that get retained is probably dropping. The drop in anglers at least gives me hope that even if government can't get the regs right, the number of fish might actually increase despite them... :)
  17. The intent of my earlier post was simply to point out an ethical dilemma... What should we do if we know what is legal might not be what is right? It is "legal" to kill a 20lb wild steelhead on some WA rivers... how many would consider it the right thing to do, or even OK? As was alluded to by another poster, I look at the old B&W pictures of "legal" steelhead limits laid out like cordwood on the lawn or dock and then consider the picture of the "legal" rockfish limit referenced earlier and wonder how long we will trust the politicized process of creating regulations to guide our behaviors. When do we just stop blindly using "legality" to be our guide to how many wild fish we can whack? I'll bet those old-timer steelheaders said something similar to what has been said here time and again... "Anyone who's fished [insert location here] can see there's no shortage of fish [e.g., it's easy to catch a lot of fish] and it's legal [e.g., someone smarter than me did the research and said it's "sustainable"], so I'm gonna kill everything allowed within the legal limit". What a shame.

    Yes, we can and should be involved in the political process of changing the laws, but in the interim, I believe we should all think twice (three times?) before killing that wild fish, regardless of whether we have taken the "limit".
  18. Jonathan Tachell

    Jonathan Tachell Active Member

    SeaRun Fanatic you sir are a dick head! I try to be as polite as possible on here but when you point me out and say that the way I fish is unethical than we have a problem. I have never lost an ounce of rockfish to freezer burn or had to throw any a way for any reason. And I only keep wild fish when legal to do so and if I feel that the population in that area is healthy enough to support harvest. Obviously the WDFW does not always know whats best for our fisheries including when it comes to setting bag limits for certain fish in certain areas. I feel like I am on the conservative side and limit the fish that I keep far more than the state does. I believe that there are plenty of black rockfish at La Push to support a 10 fish limit, otherwise I would not have kept them. Have you ever even fished out of La Push for black rockfish SeaRunFanatic?
  19. Hi Jonathan! My, aren't we defensive! Dickhead I may be, but I'm not sure you read my last post thoroughly. You have evry right to keep a legal limit of rockfish. And you may even be right that the population will bear the pressure of 10 fish limits. However... are you a fisheries biologist? Or are you counting on the assumption that the research used by WDFW to determine sustainable limits is sound? With failure after failure to WDFW's credit in sustaining healthy populations of wild fish, are you sure that's a good idea? You claim that you "limit the fish that [you] keep far more than the state does", yet I disagree in this case because you have a full limit of fish displayed in your pic. Then you make statements like "I feel like I am on the conservative side" and "I believe that there are plenty of black rockfish at La Push to support a 10 fish limit" and "I only keep wild fish when legal to do so and if I feel that the population in that area is healthy enough to support harvest". That's totally fine, and you have a right to those opinions. I just have different opinions. The old timers who stacked up legally killed steelhead shared your opinions. Clearly, they were wrong.

    Go back and reread my last post. I just want to make sure we as a community are having these discussions, and by posting a pic of your catch, you put yourself in the public domain and invited comments. I don't think you're a dick for keeping a limit of rockfish. I simply disagree. I do hope to encourage others to reconsider a decision to keep a limit, since my letters won't be changing WDFW policy any time soon. If that makes me a dickhead, then whatever.

    BTW, no, I have never fished for rockfish at La Push, and it is completely irrelevant. Even if I fished there daily for years and caught a limit every time, any conclusion I came to about population sustainability or lack thereof would be anecdotal and therefore an opinion, just like yours is now. And mine. I just choose not to trust the state's judgement, even though I love to eat fresh rockfish (or salmon, or steelhead, or halibut) as much as the next guy.


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