CENTRAL COAST FISHING
Week of March 13th
In the Creel: We’re about where we were last week at this time, with river levels dropping and the water slowly clearing. Last weekend’s two inches of rain caused steep rises and turbidity, but both are waning again. More fishermen got out this week in boats and on the bank, and are reporting okay results, though not fantastic. The fishing has been better than the catching. The bays have declining levels of silt and rising levels of salinity, so there should be better prospects in the days ahead. Deep sea fishing is good, but only if you can get out, which doesn’t look likely anytime soon because of rough conditions. Ocean salmon season on the Central Coast opens this weekend! And from initial fish forecasts, this could be the best year for salmon since 1938 when records were first kept. *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 as the river comes into shape this week. This is the time of year when native steelhead can be prevalent in this river. It is mainly a catch-and-release wild steelhead fishery, though some hatchery fish are caught and kept by anglers.
Siletz River: As river conditions improve, winter steelhead fishing should produce fair to good results. Fish are well distributed throughout the river and offer both bank and boat anglers decent chances to catch a nice one. Good bank access is from Moonshine Park up to the deadline.
Yaquina River: The winter steelhead fishery on the Big Elk is tailing off (so to speak). This fishery typically slows down in March. However, fish are well distributed in the system with most in spawning condition this time of year. Anglers should look to fish the falling river level this week.
Alsea River: As the river level drops, the week ahead should offer anglers some very good catching. You should focus on the mid to upper river this time of year as fish are actively migrating. During the subsiding flows expected this week, the mid to lower reaches can produce decent results. Drifting the upper sections from Mill Park to Five Rivers could be a good bet.
Central Coast Lakes: Our lakes have been stocked and should offer some respectable trout fishing this week. If you want to learn more about this fun and productive type of angling, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is hosting a Family Fishing Event this Saturday, March 15th, at Devils Lake in Lincoln City. ODFW staff and volunteers will be present to hand out equipment, and be available to teach youngsters how to bait, cast, and ‘reel in’ their catch. Adults can get tips on basic rigging, fish identification and casting. Licenses are required for anyone over the age of 13, and will not be available at the event. Get yours here.
Saltwater fishing and shellfish harvesting…
Bays and Ocean: Fishing is good for bottom fish when sea conditions allow, which may happen by next week. Many anglers reported limits of lingcod before the recent winds and high seas. Rockfish seemed 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 opens this Saturday, March 15th, and runs 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.
There have been spawning aggregations of herring in Yaquina Bay this week. Jigging for herring is great fun for the 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 and low in mercury. Try smoking them (if you can keep them lit). The females are full of eggs now, which can be kind of messy because the eggs stick to anything they come in contact with. But, the eggs are highly prized in sushi restaurants, so try collecting them and make your own sushi. Here’s a recipe.
The entire Oregon Coast is open for razor clamming, and the next minus tides begin on March 25th.
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 extremely slow because of lowered salinity, turbidity and the time of year. Look for bay crabbing to pick up again later in the spring or early summer. Ocean crabbing might be a better bet when conditions permit. Some sport crabbers have difficulty correctly measuring the minimum size for Dungeness crab, which is 5 3/4 inches measured in a straight line across the back immediately in front of, but not including, the points. See an illustration showing the correct measurement here.
Fore-Cast: The weather has improved for all types of in-shore fishing and shellfish harvesting. Warmer days, fewer storms and overall better conditions will be welcome news for river and bay fishermen. The ocean, however, still has rough conditions most of the time with moderate winds and large seas predicted for the week ahead. So, getting out there remains difficult for smaller craft; this may indeed put the kibosh on this weekend’s sport salmon opening.
Information supplied by the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, NOAA, and local fishermen. So… don’t blame me!
– Chris Burns