The halibut and lingcod fishing is just getting better and better off the coast of Washington. The cat and mouse game with the marine weather is in full effect. After a pretty generous weather pattern early in the season, Mother Nature decided to make up for it with heavy winds and swells. When anglers can make it offshore and focus in on structure at the edges of canyons, they are coming home with limits of halibut and lingcod.
Anglers departing from Sekiu to fish Marine Areas 3 and 4 have found longer runs to the halibut grounds, brought on by the ports of Neah Bay and La Push being closed. Couple the long journey with inclement ocean conditions, and most boats are choosing to stay inshore and inshore catch rates have been low. The good news is that there is plenty of quota left in Marine Areas 3 and 4 and Marine Area 5 (Sekiu) has been producing quite a number of smaller halibut for those that don’t want to make the long run offshore. The halibut will continue to increase in size in Marine Areas 3 and 4 and I anticipate some very respectable catches in the weeks to come.
The fishing has been phenomenal offshore with 40-60-pound (and larger) halibut hitting the decks for those willing to sort through the smaller grade fish. Keep in mind that the average halibut caught is around 15-pounds. Large baits behind hoochies, lead head jigs with swimbaits, and pipe jigs have been doing most of the damage. I run 6 lines on my boat for halibut and lingcod and like to have 2 guys running pipe jigs to make some noise on the bottom and attract fish to the boat. The pipe jig is very effective for lingcod and the halibut love it too. Try to cover all of the senses with a good distribution of scent, highly visual lures, and making some noise. I like my swimbaits and hoochies to have a fair amount of pearl white or glow on them so they’re easier for the fish to pick out at depth.
There is plenty of opportunity left. So watch the weather, pick your day, and land a fat flatty on your boat!