CENTRAL COAST FISHING
Week of April 17th
In the Creel: The rivers are running near their normal Spring levels and clarity. There could be slight rises in the week ahead with additional rain predicted. Bays and estuaries are also in about average shape for this time of year, with decent salinity and visibilities. The ocean is warming up a little; sea temperatures are now about 52F. Getting out has been on-again, off-again with varying wind and sea conditions keeping a lot of fishermen, especially those with smaller boats, tied up ashore.
Salmon River: The river is closed to fishing through May 23rd to protect out-migrating salmon and trout smolts. The river will re-opened on May 24th with the start of the trout season.
Siletz River: The winter steelhead fishery is slow and few quality hatchery fish remain. This time of year is when native steelhead tend to be more prevalent in the fishery as they are nearing or are already spawning. The good news is that over the next few weeks, summer steelhead will start to transition into the river. Decent bank access is from Moonshine Park up to the deadline.
Yaquina River: The Yaquina and Big Elk are closed to angling through May 23rd and will re-open with the trout season on May 24th. Tide water remains open year round, but for marine species only.
Alsea River: Fishing has been very slow with the upper river occasionally productive. Wild fish tend to make up most of the catch this time of year.
Central Coast Lakes: Trout fishing has really improved recently as water temperatures have warmed and a lot of fish have been stocked. Be sure to check out the 2014 stocking schedule for the most up to date information. Some good-sized hatchery winter steelhead are still available in Olalla and Big Creek Reservoirs. Remember, these fish are considered ‘trout’ in those reservoirs so you only get to keep one per day over 20 inches.
Saltwater fishing and shellfish harvesting…
Bays and Ocean: Sport fisheries samplers at Depoe Bay and Newport report good catches of rockfish again last week. Most anglers on charter boats got limits or near limits. Rockfish catches from non-charter vessels were fewer – between three and five fish – but often private fishermen only catch what they can eat in the next day or two.
The early recreational ocean salmon season along the Central Coast is open through April 30th for all salmon except Coho. Sport anglers are now reporting good catches of Chinook off the Central Coast from Depoe Bay south. Recreational Chinook salmon fishing this year should be good to great based on forecast adult returns destined for key river basins. Although fishery managers are predicting fall Chinook returns to the Central Valley and Klamath River to be well below the 2013 totals, they should be abundant enough to result in good Chinook catches along the entire Oregon Coast. Tremendous returns of Chinook are forecast for the Columbia River this summer and should provide great fishing both in the ocean and the river itself in August.
Thanks to improved hatchery and naturally-produced Coho populations, the 2014 ocean Coho seasons should provide the most time on the water for Coho fishing since the 2010 season. Fishery managers expect selective fishing for fin-clipped hatchery Coho beginning in late June to be very good in the ocean all along Oregon, especially off the Central Coast. The Cape Falcon to Humbug Mountain non-selective Coho season will open on August 30th to coincide with Labor Day weekend. For the 2014 Salmon Fishing Forecast and Ocean Seasons, click here.
Fishing for Pacific halibut in Oregon is closed, but will open before long. Spring all-depth halibut fishing fixed-date openers are: May 8th-10th; May 22nd-24th, June 5th-7th, and June 19th-21st. Back-up dates in July are also planned depending on the take of the quota.
The entire Oregon Coast is open for razor clamming, and the current stretch of morning minus tides lasts through Monday, April 21st. April Tide Tables here.
All other 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. The Oregon Department of Agriculture’s shellfish safety hotline is toll free and provides the most current information regarding shellfish safety closures. Please call the hotline before harvesting at 1-800-448-2474. Press 1 for biotoxin closures and 2 for general safety recommendations.
Bay crabbing has been okay, but not great. Crabbers are averaging one to three keepers per person. 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: You might as well hum a few bars of “I’m Fishing in the Rain” Gene Kelly style for the next week or so. Though Friday looks sunny, another storm arrives on Saturday with rain and wind. On and off showers are expected to continue for the long term. Bays and estuaries may see some wind chop from time to time, but the ocean will vary between rough and rougher. In addition to occasional weather fronts with small craft advisory wind levels, a large swell is expected to arrive by Sunday. Seas could top 20 feet before dropping down to 10 feet by Tuesday. Depoe Bay and Yaquina Bay bars have had various restrictions over the past week, so check the Bar Reports before you shove off.
This report does not come with a warranty but, fortunately, the worst day fishing is still better than the best day working. Information is supplied by the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, NOAA, and local fishermen. So… don’t blame me!
– Chris Burns