CENTRAL COAST FISHING
Week of February 20th
From the Creel: Beginning today and every Thursday hereafter, we’ll give you an update on sport fishing, crabbing and shellfish harvesting along the Central Coast. While the bulk of this information will be supplied by the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, we also plan to include what we hear from local sport and commercial fishermen. With any luck we can help point you in the general direction of the hotspots. Obviously, however, this report does not come with a warranty. Fortunately, as you know, the worst day fishing is still better than the best day working.
Siletz River: The winter steelhead fishery should see some improvement this week once river conditions recover following the recent high water events. Fish should be well distributed through the river and offer both bank and boat anglers respectable opportunities. Good bank access is from Moonshine Park up to the deadline. During high flows, plunking can be very effective and during lower clear river conditions, small and subtle presentations are advised.
Salmon River: Winter steelhead fishing should be fair to good as river conditions improve following the recent rains. The fishery is mainly a catch-and-release wild steelhead fishery but some hatchery fish are caught by anglers. Typical steelhead tactics apply and can offer anglers some decent chances under the right conditions.
Yaquina River: The winter steelhead fishery on the Big Elk should provide anglers with good opportunities once river conditions come into fishable shape. Recent high waters should have the fish well distributed in the system. During higher flows, plunking or fishing the upper river can produce good results. Working lures across riffles, drifting jigs, bait or egg patters can be effective.
Alsea River: Extended high water recently has distributed fish throughout the river. During higher flows, anglers should focus on the upper river as this tends to clear more quickly. Fishing the north fork of the Alsea should produce good results this week as river conditions improve. Drifting the upper sections from Mill Park and below should also be productive. Plunking can be especially good during higher murky conditions throughout the river. During low clear river conditions, anglers should fish smaller and more subtle presentations. Casting lures, drifting jigs, bait or egg patterns and plunking at higher flows are effective techniques to consider.
Central Coast Lakes: Trout stocking along the Central Coast was scheduled to start this week but may be delayed because of the weather. Stocking will continue into early June. Fishing for warm water species is slow during the winter months, but can still provide good prospects on nice winter days. Largemouth bass, perch, bluegill and brown bullhead are the most common warm water fish, mostly available in the lakes south of us near Florence.
Bays and Ocean: Fishing should be good for bottom fish when the weather abates. Before this week’s storms, many anglers reported limits of lingcod. Rockfish seem to be back on the bite, too. This is the time of year lingcod spawn so they are in shallow water. Fishing for groundfish is open at all depths through March 31st. The cabezon season is closed until July 1st. The marine fish daily bag limit is seven fish. There are separate daily limits for lingcod (2) and flatfish other than Pacific halibut (25). Remember – yelloweye rockfish and canary rockfish may not be retained. The Stonewall Bank Yelloweye Rockfish Conservation Area, approximately 15 miles west of Newport, is closed to the take of rockfish, lingcod, flatfish and other species in the groundfish group.
Ocean salmon fishing is closed in all Oregon waters.
Fishing for Pacific halibut is also closed, however…
After a public meeting and on-line survey, ODFW staff is recommending the following dates* for sport Pacific halibut all-depth seasons between Cape Falcon and Humbug Mountain:
– Spring all-depth Fixed Dates: May 8-10; May 22-24, June 5-7, and June 19-21.
– Spring all-depth Back-up Dates, if quota remaining: July 3-5, July 17-19 and July 31.
– Summer all-depth: opens Aug 1-2, and then every other Friday and Saturday until quota is attained.
*ODFW may alter these dates before granting final approval on April 25th.
The entire Oregon Coast is open for razor clamming, with the next minus tide series beginning February 25th; the lowest is -1.1 feet on the 28th. You’ll need a lantern by then, though, as the low tides are later each evening. For best results, clammers should pay close attention to surf forecasts and be on the beach one to two hours before low tide. If the forecast calls for combined seas over 8 or 10 feet, razor clam harvesting can be difficult because the clams tend to show much less in those conditions. Midwinter clamming can be quite productive, though, so it is often worth the effort.
Although bay crabbing has been slower than usual for this time of year, crabbers who put in enough time were going home with some nice Dungies before the recent spate of storms. The best months for bay crabbing on the Central Coast are August through November, but there are still quite a few nice meaty ones lurking on the bottom during the winter. Success declines after significant rainfall (like we’ve had lately) as estuary salinity drops. So, maybe wait until things settle down next week before tossing your pots in. Look for bay crabbing to pick up again in June.
Fore-Cast: Central Coast rivers and their tributaries will be slowly receding into the weekend and they’ll start to clear-up as turbidity from heavy rainfall fades. Bays and estuaries will see an increase in salinity with less fresh water entering from rivers and tributaries. And, ocean fishing will be possible again, maybe by this weekend, as seas ease, winds wind down and the bars open.
Information supplied by the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, NOAA, and local fishermen. So… don’t blame me!
Chris Burns –