Call to be a Pen Pal

Jake and I fished the public pier at Burton Chace during a rainy and windy day in March when the boats didn’t go out.  While there, we noticed the WSB raising pen.  The pen is maintained by MDR Anglers, and is supported by funds generated from the annual Halibut Derby and through the volunteer work of its “Pen Pals.”  When I met Josh of MDRA, I asked him about it and he volunteered to show us around.

Established in 1995, MDRA’s raising pen is part of a network of raising facilities emanating out from

Josh shows us the automatic feeder. They like to feed at night.

Hubbs SeaWorld Research Institute in San Diego.  Similar to the salmon hatcheries in my native Pacific Northwest, these facilities were established to revitalize the population of this prized Southern Californian gamefish that had been beaten down by overfishing.  Along with legislation banning commercial fishing in the kelp beds near shore, we are now enjoying a healthy WSB fishery again thanks to the combined effort.

MDRA receives the fish when they are about 2-3″ long.  Upon arrival, they have already been chipped to record migration data (SAVE THE HEADS).  The hatchlings then spend time at the raising pen until they reach 9-10″ in length.  They are then counted and released into the wild.  Since this pen was established, over 80K fish have been released.  Only about 1% of the fish make it to a reproductive age, but based on the bite this year, I would have to conclude it’s making a positive impact.

Thank you MDRA and Hubbs SeaWorld Research Institute!

Over 80,000 fish released

Note to the fishermen…they only eat the pellets in the feeder on the fall, won’t pick them off the bottom.  They also like to feed best at night.

Want to take a peak inside the pen?  Watch this video