Coastal denizens of Oregon know a thing or two about fish that most of the rest of us are in the dark on. We’re not talking secret fishing holes or local fly preferences, but a few notable dates during the summer. If you are reading The Advocate and know what all-depth halibut means, then congrats to you, but if not this is your opportunity to learn a regional fishing lesson.
All-depth halibut days are the only times of year that it is legal to fish for halibut at, you guessed it, all depths in the ocean. The next chances coming up will be May 24-26, June 7-9, and June 21-23. Starting June 1, anglers will also be allowed to fish in the nearshore for halibut.
These are indeed special days and the locals are dialed in. If you enjoy frequenting the coast just to escape the valley heat, you’ve probably noticed on your drive that some days it seems like you’ve passed a bazillion boats being towed. Check the dates above—there may be a reason why there’s so many.
Why such a push to fish for halibut? If you’ve eaten one before, you have an idea. Plus, they can be pretty huge. The distance from their mouth to the fork in their tail can reach eight feet, putting them at a weight of about 500 pounds. That is a lot of bang for your buck. Though, it’s debatable how the economics of avid sport fishing balance out, considering all the fuel it takes to retain an average catch on the central coast of 17 pounds.
Other neat things about Pacific halibut: they are a flatfish, with both eyes on the same side of their head. But they don’t start out this way—as tots, they swim upright and have one eye on each side like most other fish. When they reach their angsty adolescent years, the world turns sideways on them and one of their eyes migrates over. Then they have to learn to swim all wonky.
Soon enough they become naturals at it, and become sexually mature around 8 to 11 years of age, with spawning occurring in the winter thousands of feet deep. Females can release up to four million eggs. In the summer, the fish hang out in shallower spots, predating on anything that can fit in their mouth. Three decades into to their lifespan, many will hit the great toilet bowl in the sky, but some will keep on living just for the halibut.
Ready to catch your own? If you’ve got a boat, make sure to check the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife website for regulation updates at: https://www.dfw.state.or.us/
By Ari Blatt