Ocean anglers can help set quotas, season lengths

Oregon's ocean anglers are being asked to weigh in on how they would like to see their bottomfish and halibut seasons and limits set for next year.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will hold a series of public meetings next week at coastal fishing ports to gather input on everything from how much of the Pacific halibut quotas do anglers want in the all-depth fisheries to whether a change in the cabezon size restrictions would be prudent.

Biologists in the ODFW's Marine Program also want to know when anglers prefer certain seasons to open and how many days of fishing each week to either compress or stretch out the halibut seasons.

Also, biologists want to hear from Southern Oregon anglers on how they want the Pacific Halibut season structured from Humbug Mountain south to the California border. That season currently runs May 1 through Oct. 31 with no quota, but biologists are mulling whether to shorten that growingly popular fishery or monitor it more closely, with possible in-season changes based on catch rates.

Anglers also will be asked about whether to increase the minimum size limits or set a slot limit on cabezon as part of an effort to keep that fishery open year-round. In recent years, cabezon catches have hit their state-imposed quotas and had to be shut down in mid-season.

Biologists also want to know whether to alter the depth restrictions on bottomfishing to protect more yelloweye rockfish from incidental catch, which becomes fatal at deeper depths. Possibilities range from keeping the current 40-fathom rule in effect April through September, or cutting that back to 30 fathoms or even 25 fathoms as the fishing boundary.

A breakdown of the topics and various proposals is expected to be posted Monday on the ODFW's Marine Program website at www.dfw.state.or.us/MRP/.

ODFW biologists will hold public meetings on these proposals at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 28, in Brookings at the Best Western Beach Front Inn, 16008 Boat Basin Drive, and at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Red Lion Hotel in Coos Bay.

Other meetings are planned for Monday in Astoria and Tuesday in Newport.

Those who don't want to attend the meeting but want to voice comments can do so by emailing Lynn Mattes at Lynn.Mattes@state.or.us or Patrick Mirick at Patrick.p.mirick@state.or.us or by calling 541-867-4741. Comments must be given no later than Thursday.

The annual October chinook fishing season off the mouth of Southern Oregon's Chetco River opens Saturday, Oct. 1 and runs through Oct. 12.

The fishery targets adult chinook headed to the Chetco River this fall to spawn.

The limit remains one chinook a day with a 24-inch minimum, and anglers can keep up to five of these ocean-caught chinook a season.

The fishery is relegated to near-shore waters between Twin Rocks and the Oregon/California border.

The Lake of the Woods Resort is hosting its second annual Fall Classic Fishing Derby on Saturday at the lake off Highway 140 in western Klamath County.

Prizes for biggest fish, best limit of trout by weight, the most perch and most unusual catch will be provided.

The event is free, and food and drinks will be available.

Participants must sign up at the marina before fishing, and the last fish will be checked in at 6 p.m.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtribune.com.

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