CENTRAL COAST FISHING
Week of July 10th
In the Creel: Man, there’s a heck of a lotta wild Coho out there. This often repeated phrase lately is frustrating sport fishermen as the hatchery Coho season unfolds. We’ve heard reports that wild catches (and compulsory releases) have been anywhere from 5 or 6 to 1, to as high as 10 to 1, over fin-clipped silvers. And, we can’t get to the wild stock until sport non-selective Coho season opens on August 30th. Meanwhile, Chinook catches have been okay this past week, but not great. Part of that is due to snotty weather, especially in the windy afternoons. Halibut are marginal right now, too, but rockfish remain on the bite. Bay crabbing is starting to produce some nice Dungies. Cutthroat trout and summer steelhead fishing is in the fair to good category, but hasn’t really blossomed yet.
Salmon River: The river is open for cutthroat trout, and fishermen report fair to good success over the past week. Use of bait is not allowed above the head of tide but small spinners, spoons or fly fishing can be very fruitful. The river is also open for spring Chinook and summer steelhead but catches are few and far between.
Siletz River: Steelhead fishing has been slow but should improve shortly as the summer run builds, peaking in a couple of weeks. The cutthroat trout season is open, too, and catches have been fair to good. Sea-run cutthroat probably won’t start appearing in the lower river until later this month. Lots of crayfish are available in the Siletz right now, so harvest a batch for a tasty meal. No angling or shellfish license is required to catch crayfish, and the limit is generous, too – 100 crawdads per person per day.
Yaquina River: Cutthroat trout fishing in the Yaquina, Big Elk Creek and tributaries is open and angling has been good. Cutthroat can be found throughout the river system. Using small lures or fly fishing can attract some nice ones. But use of bait is not allowed until September 1st above the head of tide.
Alsea River: The Alsea is open for cutthroat trout with many opportunities for bank fishing along Highway 34. Cutthroat are being landed just about everywhere in the river and recent catches have been fair to good. Use of bait is not allowed above the head of tide until September 1st. The Alsea also has a slew of crawdads, so take the kids out for a day of fun catching and cooking these succulent freshwater crustaceans.
Central Coast Lakes: Rainbow trout fishing is slow and ODFW’s stocking program is finished for the year. There are still a few adult hatchery steelhead in Big Creek Reservoir.
Saltwater fishing and shellfish harvesting…
Bays and Ocean: Rockfish catches have been okay, but not up to the levels of earlier in the year. Most fishermen are catching 4 or 5 per trip. There are still some nice lingcod coming in, and the rate has stabilized at about one ling for every two fishermen.
The ocean outside of the 30-fathom curve is closed to bottom fishing until September 30th.
Tuna are getting closer to shore now and anglers willing to travel 30 miles or so offshore have been picking up about 4 tuna per fisherman out of Newport and Depoe Bay. Get ‘em while they’re hot. During most years tuna move to within 20 miles of the coast, but around August they tend to become harder to catch.
Ocean salmon fishing remains fair to good. The hot spot this last week was Depoe Bay with an average catch of 1.5 fish per angler; Newport’s rate was less than 1 salmon per fisherman. Coho was the predominate species, but some Chinook are in the mix, too.
The sport halibut nearshore season (inside the 40-fathom line) is open seven days a week until the quota is taken or October 31st. Catch rates out of Newport this past week were about 1 ‘but per 10 anglers. The summer halibut all-depth season for Central Coast waters is closed until the first opener August 1st and 2nd.
Most of the Oregon Coast is open for razor clamming, however, since 1967 ODFW has closed the 18 miles of beaches north of Tillamook Head to razor clamming, while young clams establish themselves on the beach during the summer. There are still good places open to dig razors on the Central Coast. The beaches with the best opportunity are around Newport at Agate Beach, North Jetty and South Beach. The latest series of minus tides is underway now through next Thursday, July 17th. There are some serious lows in this stretch, too, down to -2.6 feet this weekend and many razor clam beds will be exposed for the first time in quite a while. July Tide Tables here.
Recreational mussel harvesting is closed along the entire Oregon coast due to elevated levels of paralytic shellfish poisoning. All other recreational shellfish harvesting is open (except as noted above). 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. For shellfish regs and identification, go here.
Bay crabbing has been good and is improving. More legal-sized Dungeness crabs are moving into the bays and estuaries. Alsea Bay has been particularly productive lately. Shellfish biologists say crabbing is much better this year than last. Best pot pulls have been an hour before to an hour after high tide. 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.
Commercial Fishing: For those who sport fish, 75 tons of catch may seem off the charts. But for a commercial Pacific whiting boat, that’s about half a load and fishing “wasn’t all that good,” according to the vessel’s skipper. Groundfish have been spotty, but should be picking up soon. Chinook salmon are still coming in in good numbers. We’re seeing more shrimpers headed out, tuna boats are working 30-40 miles offshore, and a handful of crabbers are making a run for the last month of the commercial season. Fish markets and restaurants will likely want to stock up their live tanks before the season closes.
Fore-Cast: For river fishermen, the halcyon days of summer will make for pleasant days of casting or drifting. No serious weather concerns are in the cards. Bay anglers, crabbers and clam diggers can expect occasional windy and choppy afternoons and evenings. Ocean fishing has been a morning sport for the past week with nor’westers ramping up to 25-30 knots in the afternoons along with square seas of 7-8 feet. Current predictions show an easing of the northerlies beginning today, Thursday, down to 10-15 knots, and through the weekend. It’ll still be a little lumpy with 4-5 foot chop, but not as crazy as it’s been. Always check the latest Bar Reports before you set a course offshore.
Fishin’ with Chris 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