The January and February ban on catching rockfish produced a nice surprise for Southern California anglers. Traditionally the winter months has sent the sportfishing industry out onto the deepwater banks in search of the tasty rockfish mainly because there was nothing else to fish for. Apparently, the ever abundant rockfish are in a state of decline so the moratorium was enacted. The new law states that anglers cannot catch or possess rockfish during the months of January and February. This really bent the sportfishing industry out of shape. Rockfish has always been the winter time savior for the sportboats and many landings thought they would go broke. Not so! Somebody found the halibut biting with reckless abandon.
Halibut have always disappeared in the winter time.At least that’s what everybody thought. A sportboat skipper took a group of anglers into deeper waters for a fishing trip and found the halibut biting like crazy. The rest is history as every sportboat in the area is now drifting across the areas in search of the flatties. One of the clues to this discovery was the endless line of gill nets that spread for miles in the 10 to 20 fathom stretches. We all knew they were netting some halibut but really had no idea as to how many. Anglers are catching and releasing hundreds of halibut a day. One fish in 20 will stretch the 22 inches necessary by law and the fishermen are literally wading through them. But the new fishery has answered some interesting questions about the halibut habitat and introduced some new tackle techniques.