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Originally published Saturday, February 2, 2013 at 8:04 PM

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Halibut forecast remains steady, positive

The International Pacific Halibut Commission recently set quotas for this summer's fisheries.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Reel Time Northwest

Seattle native and lifelong angler Mark Yuasa blogs on fishing in the Pacific Northwest.

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A steady stream of action is expected in the spring and summer coastal halibut fisheries.

"We ended up with a catch quota that I would say is pretty much status quo to last year," said Heather Reed, a state Fish and Wildlife halibut resource manager. "Fishing on the coast last year was good."

The International Pacific Halibut Commission last week adopted a quota of 999,000 pounds — up from 989,000 last year — for commercial, sport and tribal fisheries in Area 2A, which covers Washington, Oregon and California.

Last year, the sport fishery in Washington was allowed a catch of 214,110 pounds. In the past decade, the sport catch fishery has remained stable with a low of 393,000 pounds in 2010 and a high of 511,000 in 2006.

The halibut fishery off Neah Bay and La Push is tentatively planned to open May 9, and fishing will be allowed Thursdays and Saturdays only through May 18. Catches will then be assessed to see if additional openings are possible.

Westport, on the south-central coast, opens May 5, and fishing will be allowed Sundays and Tuesdays only through May 21. Catches there will also be assessed for additional openings. There will also be a nearshore halibut fishery off Westport open daily beginning May 5 until the quota is achieved.

Ilwaco opens May 3, and fishing will be allowed Fridays to Sundays. This area will remain open during spring and summer unless 80 percent of the quota is caught before mid-July. That is a change from past years when it would close between mid-July and early August.

State Fish and Wildlife will have a meeting for stakeholders and the public on Feb. 8 at 9:30 a.m. at the Natural Resources Building, Room 175A in Olympia to present tentative catch options for the coast and look at fisheries for inner Puget Sound.

Last year, Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca east of Sekiu had a catch quota of 57,393 pounds.

The eastern Strait and Puget Sound was open May 3 to June 2 with fishing allowed Thursdays to Saturdays, except for Memorial Day when it was open Thursday to Monday. The western Strait off Sekiu was open May 24 to June 23 with fishing allowed Thursdays to Saturdays, except for Memorial Day.

The limit in all areas will remain one halibut daily with no minimum size limit.

Final approval of halibut seasons will be announced in early March.

Columbia spring chinook seasons finalized

Sport anglers on the Lower Columbia River will see a big dip in the number of hatchery spring chinook available to catch this season.

State Fish and Wildlife managers adopted regulations based on an upriver spring chinook forecast of 141,400, which is about 25 percent below the 10-year average. Last year, 203,000 adult fish returned to areas above Bonneville Dam.

While the forecast is smaller in than the past few years, it is still twice as large as those that occurred in the 1990s.

Anglers this spring will be allowed to catch up to 5,000 hatchery upriver chinook below Bonneville from March 1 through April 5. Fishing is currently open below the I-5 Bridge. The fishery could be extended if catch levels remain under the guideline.

An additional 670 adult hatchery fish will go to fisheries between Bonneville Dam and the Washington/Oregon state line located 17 miles upriver from McNary Dam.

Last year, anglers fishing below the dam caught 10,160 upriver spring chinook, along with 3,175 returning to tributaries of the Lower Columbia River.

The length of the Lower Columbia spring chinook fishing season is dictated by a lot of factors.

"The last several years, the fish have arrived late, and normally we start to see a steady stream at Bonneville Dam by mid-to-late February," said Joe Hymer, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist. "In 2011, they didn't show up until early March."

Other components include water temperature and flows, stock or age of fish, and even the presence of sea lions below the dam.

A new rule implemented on the Columbia River mainstem requires anglers to now use barbless hooks.

For specific dates and rules on the entire Columbia River spring chinook fishery, go to wdfw.wa.gov.

Spring chinook fishing is currently open daily for boat and bank anglers from Buoy 10 to I-5 Bridge. The sport fishery extends upstream to Beacon Rock March 1 through April 5. Sport fishing will be closed March 26 and April 2 for possible commercial fisheries.

Beginning March 1, bank anglers may fish from Beacon Rock up to the fishing boundary below Bonneville Dam.

Fishing above Bonneville Dam will be open daily to boat and bank anglers March 16 through May 5 between the Tower Island power lines six miles below The Dalles Dam and the Washington/Oregon state line located 17 miles upriver from McNary Dam. Bank anglers can fish from Bonneville Dam upriver to the Tower Island power lines during that period.

Beginning March 1, anglers below Bonneville Dam may keep one hatchery adipose-fin clipped adult spring chinook daily. Anglers above Bonneville may keep two hatchery-marked adult spring chinook daily beginning March 16.

Fisheries officials will manage the season with a 30 percent buffer until the forecast can be updated in late April or early May.

Fish on the Fly

There two fun-filled events for fly-fishing enthusiasts to attend this month.

The Fly Fishing Film Tour makes a stop 7 p.m. Feb. 7 at the SIFF Cinema Uptown, 511 Queen Anne Avenue North in Seattle.

Cost is $13, and tickets are available at The Avid Angler in Lake Forest Park, Pacific Fly Fishers in Mill Creek, and Creekside Angling Co. in Seattle and Issaquah.

The film takes fly anglers on adventures all across the globe, including the Pacific Northwest in search of a wide variety of fish species. The film is produced by Webeye Group, LLC. Details: www.TheF3T.com.

There will be a free fundraiser for the Wild Fish Conservency following the film 9:30 p.m. Feb. 7 at Tini Bigs, 100 Denny on Lower Queen Anne in Seattle. It will include a silent auction with donations from Patagonia, Sage, Redington, RIO, Simms, ExOfficio and Echo Rods. Details: 206-295-7031.

The Northwest Fly Fishing Show is 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Feb. 16, and 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Feb. 17 at the Lynnwood Convention Center. Cost is $15 per day or $25 for a two-day pass.

There will be a wide range of events with featured fly-tyers, destination seminars, casting demonstrations, exhibitor booths and classes with expert fly-anglers.

There will also be an International Fly Fishing Film Festival 6:30 p.m. Feb. 17, and includes short and full length films on California Trout by Burl Productions; Angry Rain by Castaway Films; Shee Fish by Cross Current Productions; The Last Salmon Forest by Detonation Studios; Surf's Up by Fly Max Films; Only the River Knows by Kokkaffe Media; SIFF12: Northeast by Peter Laurelli; A Deliberate Life by Silo4; and Competition by Vantage Point Media House. Details: www.flyfishingshow.com.

Mark Yuasa: 206-464-8780 or myuasa@seattletimes.com

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