The Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife wants to remind ocean anglers of two important regulation changes that begin April 1 and continue through the end of September.
Sport fishing for bottomfish offshore of the 30-fathom line (as defined by waypoints) is closed beginning April 1. In previous years the fishery was closed outside the 40-fathom line on April 1.
“The change is to reduce catch-and-release mortality of yelloweye rockfish,” said Lynn Mattes, ODFW sport groundfish project leader. “In recent years the bottomfish fishery has had to move from inside 40 fathoms to inside of 20 fathoms during the middle of the summer. By starting at 30 fathoms on April 1, hopefully impacts to yelloweye rockfish will be reduced enough that we can delay or even eliminate the 20 fathom restriction later in the season.”
Anglers may occasionally catch, but cannot keep, yelloweye rockfish while fishing for other species. Yelloweye rockfish, along with canary rockfish, are considered overfished by NOAA Fisheries and a certain percentage of those caught and released must be reported as mortality. Yelloweye rockfish generally live in deeper waters so bringing the fishery inside 30 fathoms is intended to decrease the catch rate of this species, while still allowing anglers to fish for other bottomfish such as black rockfish and lingcod. Additionally, yelloweye rockfish caught and released from shallower than 30 fathoms have a lower mortality rate, so savings are twofold.
The nearshore halibut fishery, which is managed separately from the bottomfish fishery, opens May 1. This fishery will be open inside the 40-fathom line as in previous years. During days when the all-depth halibut is not open, anglers may have bottomfish on board their vessel, but only inside the 30-fathom line.
“So if you plan to fish for halibut outside the 30-fathom line, catch your halibut first, then move inside the 30-fathom line to catch bottomfish,” Mattes suggested. “This is a little complicated, I know, but our Sport Advisory Group and anglers who attended our public meetings felt this was the best compromise to allow the most opportunity for both halibut and bottomfish.”
During all-depth halibut days, possession of bottomfish, except sablefish and Pacific cod, is prohibited when halibut are onboard the vessel, regardless of depth.
April 1 is also the opening of cabezon season for the year. The daily bag limit for cabezon is one, and that one cabezon is part of the seven-fish daily bag limit for rockfish, greenling and other marine species. Lingcod has a separate bag limit of two per day.
Cabezon fishing is closed during the winter months, October through the end of March.