Almost eight million pounds of halibut is available for recreational anglers this year and the Sooke Region is baiting the hook.
Local guiders are seeing more people go after the large fish and with good results.
“I don’t know if there are more fish (halibut) out there, but more people are fishing for them,” said Ron Neitsch of 2 Reel FishAdventures and the fishing columnist for the Sooke News Mirror.
Recreational fishers are allotted 15 per cent of the total pounds of halibut the federal department of Fisheries and Oceans will allow to be harvested from B.C. waters.
This year that means 7.7 million pounds for the recreational sector, leaving the rest for commercial operations. That 7.7 million pounds is an increase of 22,500 over last year.
The one fish a day limit remains for halibut and they must be between 83-133 centimetres. The annual limit is six. Currently the season runs from Feb. 1 to Dec. 31.
“There’s more activity now toward halibut than there is to salmon,” said Sport Fishing Advisory Committee member MikeKelly, but that’s not necessarily true on the South Coast.
“Traditionally in these waters the early spring and fall are very good times to fish for halibut and that’s because the spiny dogfish aren’t around in great numbers to stealing your bait,” Neitsch said.
Salmon fish remains king in local waters, but Neitsch can understand why some people are turning toward halibut.
“This s a big, aggressive game fish people can go after and have a lot of fun with,” Neitsch said, noting that the gear to catch the big fish is more high-tech than ever before with thinner, stronger and more flexible rods.
“The bite is more dramatic and when the halibut pull down hard on the rod you can see it and feel it.”