‘Barn door’ likely shuts on big halibut | MailTribune.com

Oregon anglers who venture to Alaska for a crack at the so-called “barn-door” halibut might be better off staying home this year and fishing for our doggie-door-sized ones instead.

Southeastern Alaska’s Pacific halibut quota is likely to be slashed, with a strong recommendation by the International Pacific Halibut Commission for a maximum size of 37 inches for the one halibut per day Alaska anglers will be allowed to keep in 2011.

That means the biggest halibut you will be able to kill in Southeast Alaska will be about 23 pounds.

Instead of drop-shipping large coolers filled with halibut, you could take home your frozen filets in a carry-on bag.

“Those pictures you see out of Alaska with halibut as tall as a man? Well, that’s not going to be happening,” says Brandon Ford, spokesman for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife‘s marine program in Newport.

Here in Oregon, the halibut quota will actually rise a bit, though the 187,506 pounds of halibut set aside for Oregon’s sporting and charter fleet pales compared to the 2.33-million-pound quota for Southeast Alaska.

The average fish caught by Oregon’s halibut jiggers is 18 to 21 pounds — just a hair under the best catch you can keep in Southeast Alaska, according to agency records.

But there is no maximum size here. So just the spectre of being able to keep a 50-inch, 60-pound halibut could mean Oregonians won’t venture past Newport or even Depot Bay in their quest for the tasty flatfish.

“People won’t come up to catch a single 20-pound fish,” says Andy Martin, a Brookings guide who works a halibut charter in Glacier Bay, Alaska, each May through September.

“If you can go out of Port Orford, catch your halibut and then go home to Medford that night, why go to Southeast Alaska to do the same thing?” Martin asks.

Glacier Bay is filled each summer with trophy-halibut hunters expecting a 100-pound halibut weekly, if not daily, Martin says.

‘Barn door’ likely shuts on big halibut | MailTribune.com.

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