I have fished several days per year since 2001 on a charter boat out of Valdez. Halibut has always been the target species with incidental (and welcome) catch of rockfish and lingcod on most trips. Depending on where exactly we are fishing (always in the gulf, never in the sound) we sometimes catch more or less of the incidental species. I would guess on average from 2001-2012 we caught about 8 lings a day on the boat. In 2013 we caught a total of 5 lings over the course of 6 days of fishing. It was like there were no lings in the sea since the fishing days in 2013 were in areas where we would have easily limited on ling in previous years.
I know a Valdez fisherman who has a commercial harvest permit for ling and asked him about his experience last year. He didn't tell me exactly how many he caught but he did tell me that in three trips so far he had caught so few lings that he wasnt even close to breaking even and wasnt sure he was going to go out again. This conversation was in late July so I am not sure if he went back out in August and if so if the ling catch improved.
Did anyone else notice a major decrease in ling last year in the gulf of Alaska outside of hinchinbrook and montague? Anyone have any ideas what the cause was/is? I have noticed 2 changes in recent years on my trips. Way more whales (fin whales, orcas, and others) seem to be present on the fishing grounds. I have also noticed an increase in commercial ling fishing.