Chasing the Mythical Halibut

This tasty fish could be the fight of your life

The Pacific halibut is a magnificent bottom-dwelling denizen, as powerful as it is ugly. To hook even a modest sized one of these fish will set you up for what could be the fight of your life.

A halibut does not give up easily. For pure stamina and flavor, its status is essentially mythic among slingers of hooks and lures.

Regulators with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife see a robust stock rebounding under proper management. So much so that they have raised the quota available to sport fishermen by 26 percent this year.

May is halibut season and a variety of charter companies in Newport can take the hassle and guesswork out of trying to land the Big One. Most keep an online presence and can be found from your smartphone. But book early, as opener dates are limited.

Here are the dates: Spring All-Depth Fishery, fixed dates: May 9-11; May 16-18; May 23-25; May 30-June 1; and June 6-8.

Back-up dates, if quota remains, are: June 20-22; July 4-6 and July 18-20

The spring quota is 171,103 pounds. The fish are taken on squid or sardine bait rolled onto circle hooks and held on the bottom by thick lead weights.

Not sure you’re in the right place? Here’s a bit of halibut trivia — the largest halibut ever sampled by ODFW came in at 69 inches. It was pulled from the Central Coast subarea in 2015. That’s 170 pounds of rod-breaking, fighting fury.

So they’re out there, waiting.