CENTRAL COAST FISHING
Week of March 27th
In the Creel: The clock is ticking and the star drag is cranked down way too tight for the early sport ocean salmon season. There’s been nary a day since it opened that fishermen have had ocean conditions favorable enough to get out. No real relief in sight for the next week, either, dang it. The bays will see increased turbidity and decreased salinity with the wet weather ahead, making them much less productive. Meanwhile, just as the local rivers receded and cleared-up, another round of heavy rain this week is going raise their levels and muddy ‘em up again. But, the major winter fishery is ending, anyway. Many coastal rivers will close to steelhead angling next Monday (to protect smolts that are migrating out). So, you’re reminded to check the regs prior to fishing any particular river after March 31st. *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 Salmon will be closed to fishing April 1st to May 23rd. Not much of a loss, though, as the winter steelhead fishery is already nearing the end of its run. This time of year can hold a lot of native steelhead that are returning to spawn or are already in the act of spawning. Occasional hatchery fish could still be picked up in the fishery.
Siletz River: The winter steelhead fishery is slowing down but can still offer anglers some good days on the river, either by boat or on the bank. Rain this week should actually improve fishing conditions on the Siletz. This time of year is when native steelhead tend to be more widespread in the river as they are nearing or are already spawning. Anglers are advised to handle native fish carefully. Good bank access is from Moonshine Park up to the deadline.
Yaquina River: There are very few quality hatchery steelhead available to harvest right now, and in general the winter steelhead fishery on the Big Elk is over. The Yaquina and Big Elk are closed to angling April 1st to May 23rd.
Alsea River: Fishing is slowing down but should remain productive this week in the upper river, especially with the predicted rains this week. This time of year using spoons and spinners as well as a bobber and jig are good bets. Also, wild fish tend to make up most of the catch this time of year.
Central Coast Lakes: Nearly all water bodies have been stocked recently with rainbow trout and most lakes will be getting another shot of fish this week or next. March through May is when the greatest number fish are stocked in Central Coast lakes and they can offer anglers some excellent fishing. Surplus hatchery winter steelhead adults have been released into Olalla and Big Creek Reservoirs. By the way, these fish are considered ‘trout’ in a lake or reservoir so only one trout over 20 inches is allowed per day.
The Oregon Coast Sportsman’s Expo is at the Lincoln County Fairgrounds this weekend. The show is open 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: Surf fishing has been slow, but some fishermen are grabbing a few red-tail surf perch, along with too many sculpins. Bring lots of bait.
The herring have spawned in Yaquina Bay, but there are many thousands of them still around. So, you have time yet to fill your bait freezer.
Bottom fishing is good when sea conditions permit. Last weekend, a few anglers reported limits of lingcod. 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 next Monday, 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.
You wanna go fishing on ODFW’s nickel? Here’s a chance to help the agency gather some baseline data on Oregon Marine Reserves, and you get to enjoy a free eight-hour deep-sea fishing trip in the bargain. It’s a catch-and-release ocean bottom fishery, and everything you need to sign up is here.
The early recreational ocean salmon season along the Central Coast is open 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. Not enough fishermen have gotten out recently to give us any real idea of catch rates.
Fishing for Pacific halibut in Oregon is closed.
The entire Oregon Coast is open for razor clamming, and the next minus tide series began on Wednesday during mid-afternoon. You’ll eventually need a lantern as the low tides move into the evenings this week, but midwinter clamming can be productive. Tide Tables here.
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, though heavy rains forecast this week may forestall any serious improvement. It’ll be later in the spring or early summer before it noticeably gets better. If you’re new to crabbing, click here for everything you ever wanted to know about Dungeness crab harvesting, including a graph depicting the best months to drop your pots.
Fore-Cast: Looks like you’ll be as wet as the fish in the week ahead. An extended period of rainy and breezy weather is in the forecast, probably lasting until sometime next week. So, if you plan to wet a line, wear your foul weather gear. Ocean conditions are going to be rough with few opportunities for offshore fisherman in the near future. Seas 10-15 feet and winds to gale force are expected on and off over the next several days, maybe longer. The bars have varied, but most days they have been closed or restricted for at least the smaller boats. Always get the latest Bar Reports before you cast off your lines.
Information supplied by the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, NOAA, and local fishermen. So… don’t blame me!
– Chris Burns