Week of March 20th
In the Creel: Local rivers are looking much less like The Big Muddy this week. Dropping levels and increased clearing are making them a lot more fishable. After all, the fish have to see your lure to take it, right? The lower water stages will also provide anglers with easier access and additional choices for bank space to work. Some nice-sized steelhead have just been stocked in Olalla and Big Creek Reservoirs so take advantage of the improved conditions for this fun fishery. The bays are also becoming far less turbid and the salinity level is climbing, which make estuary fishing and shellfish harvesting more productive. Over all, the next week should produce some of the best fishing we’ve had for quite a while, though the catching may only be fair. *This report does not come with a warranty but, fortunately, the worst day fishing is still better than the best day working.
Salmon River: The winter steelhead season will be open for about two more weeks. This time of year can hold a lot of native steelhead that are returning to spawn or are already in the act of spawning. While the Salmon River fishery is mainly a catch-and-release wild steelhead fishery, some hatchery fish are being caught by anglers.
Siletz River: Following last week’s higher water, winter steelhead should be spread out through the main-stem and offer both bank and boat anglers fair opportunities. This time of year is when native steelhead tend to be more prevalent in the fishery as they are nearing or are already spawning. You are advised to handle native fish carefully. Good bank access is from Moonshine Park up to the deadline.
Yaquina River: The winter steelhead fishery on the Big Elk is nearly over for the season. This fishery peaks in January and by March few good quality hatchery fish are available. But, native steelhead can be more prevalent in the fishery this time of year.
Alsea River: As the river level drops, anglers could have some very good fishing in the week ahead. You should focus on the mid to upper river this time of year as fish are actively migrating. During low flows, the mid to lower reaches can produce decent results. Drifting the upper sections from Mill Park to Five Rivers should be productive, too, this time of year. Casting lures, drifting jigs, bait or egg patterns are effective techniques to consider.
Central Coast Lakes: Nearly all water bodies have been stocked this season with rainbow trout and most will be getting another load of fish this week or next. March through May is when the most fish are stocked along Central Coast water bodies and can offer anglers excellent fishing. Surplus hatchery winter steelhead adults have been released into Olalla and Big Creek Reservoirs recently. These are considered ‘trout’ once in a lake or reservoir so only one trout over 20 inches is allowed per day.
The Oregon Coast Sportsman Show is coming to the Lincoln County Fairgrounds on March 28th (Friday, 3:00pm-8:00pm), March 29th (Saturday, 9:00am-6:00pm) and March 30th (Sunday, 9:00am-4:00pm).
Saltwater fishing and shellfish harvesting…
Bays and Ocean: Fishing is good for bottom fish when sea conditions allow, which may happen this weekend. Many anglers reported limits of lingcod before the recent storms. 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 opened last Saturday 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.
It’s bait jiggin’ time. ODFW biologists report spawning aggregations of herring in Yaquina Bay this week. Almost all the herring have spawned, but they are still around.
The entire Oregon Coast is open for razor clamming, and the next minus tides begin next Tuesday, March 25th in the mid-afternoon. Tide Tables here. You’ll eventually need a lantern as the low tides move into the evenings, but midwinter clamming can be productive. 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.
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 should slowly start to pick up again now that better water conditions exist. But, it’ll be later in the spring or early summer before lots of pots will be filling with serious loads of Dungies.
Fore-Cast: The weather has improved for all types of in-shore fishing and shellfish harvesting. With the beginning of Spring, warmer days, punier storms and overall enhanced conditions await river and bay fishermen. The ocean, however, still has its fits of frenzy. Depoe Bay and Yaquina Bay bars have often been closed or restricted over the past week. But, it does look like this weekend the sea may be settled down enough for sport ocean salmon fishermen to take advantage of the early season, which is open now. Next week, higher seas and more weather systems are predicted.
Information supplied by the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, NOAA, and local fishermen. So… don’t blame me!
– Chris Burns