WEATHER IN LINCOLN COUNTY


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Fishin’ with Chris

Chris Burns - Fishing

CENTRAL COAST FISHING
Week of February 27th

In the Creel: Rivers are receding and slowly clearing, which is a double-edged sword. While generally, lower levels and less turbidity will mean some decent fishing again, fish distribution in the rivers is declining and some types of angling were actually better at high water. Reduced silting from the rivers is also allowing the bays to become less murky and more salty. That could bode well for crabbing, clamming and other estuary fisheries. On the ocean, look for increasing chances of improved boating weather, though we’re still in the Winter season and the storms haven’t gone away. *This report does not come with a warranty. But, fortunately, the worst day fishing is still better than the best day working.

Salmon River: Winter steelhead fishing should be fair to good in the week ahead as river conditions improve following the recent heavy rains. The fishery is mainly catch-and-release but some hatchery steelhead are occasionally caught.

Siletz River: The winter steelhead fishery has picked up following the latest high water events. But as flows continue to drop and clear, fishing will likely slow down. Fish should be well distributed through the river and offer both bank and boat anglers fair opportunity. Good bank access is from Moonshine Park up to the deadline.

Yaquina River: The winter steelhead fishery on the Big Elk typically starts to slow down about now. Fishing should be fair this week, though, as river conditions allow and fish should be well distributed in the system.

Alsea River: Winter steelhead fishing is fair to good with anglers catching fish throughout the main stem river. The upper river has provided the best opportunity lately as river levels have dropped and cleared. Fishing the north fork should produce good results for bank anglers this week. Drifting the upper sections from Mill Park and below should also be productive.

Central Coast Lakes: Trout stocking is underway for the season with many water bodies having been stocked for the first time this year. Stocking will continue again early in March. Be sure to check out the 2014 stocking schedule on the ODFW website here for the most up to date information. Most lakes get stocked multiple times per season and can offer anglers of all experience levels some great fishing opportunities. Fishing for warm water species is slow during the winter months, but can still provide good opportunities on nice Winter days. Largemouth bass, perch, bluegill and brown bullhead are the most common warm water fish available. But, you’ll have to head south for these fish, as the Florence area offers the most opportunity at Siltcoos, Tahkenitch, Woahink, Sutton, and Mercer Lakes.

Saltwater fishing and shellfish harvesting…

Bays and Ocean: Prohibitions at Oregon’s marine reserves including Otter Rock on the Central Coast are in effect. Fishing, crabbing, clamming, hunting and gathering seaweed are all prohibited. Beach walking, surfing, bird watching, diving and other non-extractive uses continue to be allowed. For more maps and more information, go here.

This is the time of year that herring congregate in bays to spawn, although there have not been any reports of spawning aggregations just yet. Jigging for herring is great fun for kids. You can also harvest them with dip nets and cast nets. The limit is 25 pounds. Most fishermen catch herring for bait, freezing them for later. But herring are good people food, too. They are high in omega-3 oil (third highest of all fish) and low in mercury. Try smoking them. They make a delicious snack!

Fishing is good for bottom fish when the sea conditions allow. Many anglers report limits of lingcod. Rockfish seem to be back on the bite as well. Lingcod are in shallow water guarding nests this time of year. 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 (two) and flatfish other than Pacific halibut (25). Remember, yelloweye rockfish and canary rockfish may not be retained. And, the Stonewall Bank Yelloweye Rockfish Conservation Area, approximately 15 miles west of Newport, is closed to the taking of rockfish, lingcod, flatfish and other species in the groundfish group.

The early recreational ocean salmon season along the Central Coast will be open March 15th through April 30th for all salmon except Coho. All other regulations including length limits, bag limits, gear restrictions and area restrictions from the 2013 ocean salmon regulations are in effect.

Fishing for Pacific halibut in Oregon is closed.

The entire Oregon Coast is open for razor clamming, and minus tides are occurring over the next few days. 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.

All shellfish harvesting is open along the Central Coast. Due to potential biotoxins, consuming whole scallops is not recommended. However, a scallop’s adductor muscle does not accumulate biotoxins and may be safe for consumption. Scallops are not being sampled for biotoxins at this time.

Bay crabbing has been slow because of lowered salinity, turbidity and the time of year. Look for bay crabbing to pick up again in June. Ocean crabbing might be a better bet when conditions allow.

Fore-Cast: Weather conditions on the rivers and lakes will be about normal for this season with mild temps, rain, showers and some sunbreaks over the next week. So, pack all your gear ‘cause ya just never know. Ocean conditions remain fairly rough with seas 6-10 feet most of the time and winds 10-15 knots. Those could be fishable ocean conditions for the bigger boats, but smaller craft will probably have to remain in the rivers and bays. Depoe Bay and Yaquina Bay bars have been mostly open to all vessels. Heads-up for a possible moderate storm Monday into Tuesday.

Information supplied by the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, NOAA, and local fishermen. So… don’t blame me!

– Chris Burns

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