It is great to see the halibut derby planned for March with the catch going to the local food bank. (Feb. 8 How’s Fishing?)
Right now recreational anglers are facing a shorter halibut season and the threat of a quota system, with conservation being the given reason. This shorter season is yet another crippling regulation that may not only rob the non-commercial angler from the right to fish halibut at some point but also presents a huge loss to the sport fishing industry, with the season starting later and ending sooner.
The largest male halibut on record weighed slightly less than 80 lbs. Females take much longer to mature than males and this female brood stock represent all larger halibut caught. Female halibuts lay two to three million eggs a year depending on size — the bigger the female the more eggs she lays. So it would make absolute good stewardship sense to target the better tasting more plentiful ‘chicken stock’ of under 60 lbs.
The derby could have prizes distributed by both hidden weights (under 60 lbs) and top prizes of fish closest to but not over 60 lbs, still making a great contribution to the food bank.
Smaller halibut not only taste better, than the bigger and older ones, but they also contain less harmful mercury and other ‘bottom stuff’ they have spent years picking up.
While targeting smaller ‘chickens’ may help ensure halibut for future generations the question still remains - would it also allow for a louder voice in halibut allocations — one could only hope.