Long Leader Bottom Fishing Open Outside 40 Fathams

Blue Rockfish

Recreational bottomfish to reopen for some species outside 40 fathoms Oct. 1; Long-leader gear required

Recreational fishing for bottomfish for some species will reopen Oct. 1 outside the 40 fathom line for anglers with “long-leader” gear.

Several species of rockfish found outside of 40 fathoms are abundant and catches are well under quota, including yellowtail and canary rockfish. Long-leader gear has proven effective at catching these plentiful rockfish that are found off the bottom, such as yellowtail (“greenies”), widow (“brownies”), and canary rockfish, among others.

“Earlier this month, we had to close groundfish early when the quotas for black rockfish and several other species were reached after a very busy summer bottomfishing season,” said Maggie Sommer, Fisheries Management Section Leader for ODFW. “We understand this has been difficult for coastal communities, visitors wanting to fish, and the businesses that depend on them.”

“By opening outside 40 fathoms, where black rockfish and other nearshore rockfish are rarely caught, and requiring the long-leader gear, we can provide some additional opportunity while still protecting black rockfish and other species and keeping this fishery sustainable,” continued Sommer.

Long-leader gear was first developed and tested in Oregon waters to avoid yelloweye rockfish. The gear requires a minimum of 30’ of distance in the line between the terminal weight and the lowest hook, as well as a non-compressible float above the hook. The unusually long leader and the float work together to ensure that the gear fishes well above the bottom. A diagram and specifications for the gear are available at ODFW offices or at http://www.dfw.state.or.us/MRP/finfish/groundfish_sport/index.asp.

In addition to re-opening for certain bottomfish species fished with longleader gear, ODFW continues to allow flatfish fishing at all-depths.  While fishing for flatfish is not new (and has a 25-fish bag limit), the opportunity to do so at all-depths was only recently allowed. While both long-leader and flatfish fishing are great opportunities to get out on the ocean, anglers will have to choose one or the other per trip, as it will not be legal to retain both flatfish and other bottomfish on the same trip.  This will ensure that fishing on the bottom occurs only in soft-bottom habitat preferred by flatfish, keeping anglers away from rocks and further avoiding bycatch of rockfish and other groundfish species.

“It’s important that we avoid any more bycatch of yelloweye rockfish and other species whose annual quotas have already been met,” said Sommer.

The daily bag limit for the long-leader fishery remains 7 marine fish (see page 81 of the 2017 Sportfishing Regulations), no more than 4 of which may be blue, deacon, China, copper, or quillback rockfishes in aggregate. (Blues and deacons are less likely to be caught outside 40 fathoms, but are still sometimes encountered there with long-leader gear. Anglers are asked to avoid them as much as possible for the remainder of the year.) Retention of black rockfish (aka “black sea bass”), cabezon, and lingcod (except by spear) is not allowed at any depth for the remainder of 2017, in addition to the longstanding prohibition on yelloweye rockfish. Descending devices must be used when releasing all rockfish caught in waters deeper than 30 fathoms.

The 40 fathom regulatory line generally closely follows the 40 fathom (240 foot) depth contour and varies from within about two miles of shore to almost 10 miles of shore. It is defined by waypoints, which can be found on ODFW’s Sport Groundfish webpage at http://www.dfw.state.or.us/MRP/regulations/sport_fishing/waypoints.asp.

Find regulation updates on the Marine Zone Regulation Update page.

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