CENTRAL COAST FISHING
Week of July 24th
In the Creel: Almost everything is picking up. This is a great time of year to wet a line or manhandle a shovel. Limits on salmon, rockfish, clams and crabs are being reported this week as the weather has allowed more folks to get out for longer periods. Tuna and halibut are still a smidge slow, but some boats are bringing them in, too. The rivers are producing nice catches of cutthroat trout and steelhead, though it varies from basin to basin. Reservoir trout fishing is off as water temperatures increase and the rainbows feel less hungry. Bay clamming has been okay when the tides allow, and razors were fairly abundant during the last minus tide series. Mussel harvesting has been reopened.
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 picked up recently with best success in the mid to upper river. The month of July tends to be the peak of the migration. The best bank access is from Moonshine Park up to the deadline.
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. Sea-run cutthroat trout are arriving now, too, and can be found in tidewater up into the lower reaches of the river.
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. Sea-run cutthroat trout typically start to show this time of year and should be most abundant in the lower river.
Central Coast Lakes: The warm summer days are starting to heat up water temperatures in many low-elevation lakes and reservoirs. So, while the trout are pouting, target bass, bluegill, crappie and other warmwater fish that can be much more active this time of year.
Saltwater fishing and shellfish harvesting…
Bays and Ocean: Rockfish catches are steady. Most fishermen are landing 4 or 5 per trip. There are still some nice lingcod around, 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 fishing was good out of Charleston two weeks ago and last week dropped to almost nothing. Garibaldi and Astoria had the hot tuna bite with an average of more than five fish per angler. But that may change soon. Upwellings caused by strong northwest winds last week could change sea surface temperatures. Last week ODFW got reports of fish off of Charleston at 20-35 miles and off Garibaldi at about the same distance. Albacore are typically in areas where sea surface temperatures are warmer than 58F and in areas where chlorophyll concentrations are close to 0.25 milligrams per cubic meter. Weather conditions can change the sea surface temperature and upwelling will affect the chlorophyll concentration very quickly. The albacore will move when those conditions change. Most years, tuna move to within 20 miles of the coast, but by August they tend to become harder to catch.
Ocean salmon fishing has been decent. Overall, Depoe Bay and Newport sport fishermen averaged more than one Coho per angler last week, but many of the charters limited. The silvers are averaging about 9 pounds. There’s a few Chinook in the mix, too, but not many.
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 remained at about one ‘but per ten anglers. The summer halibut all-depth season for Central Coast waters is closed until the first opener August 1st and 2nd.
Central Coast beaches are open for razor clamming. The best opportunities are around Newport at Agate Beach, North Jetty and South Beach. The latest series of minus tides is underway now through next Tuesday, July 29th. But these tides will be barely minus so razors will be hard to come by. Next serious lows won’t happen until the second week in August. July Tide Tables here.
As of July 18th the entire Oregon coast has reopened to all recreational mussel harvesting. Prior to that date all mussel harvesting was closed due to elevated levels of paralytic shellfish poisoning. 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 very good. Even people dropping rings off the docks have been pulling up some nice Dungeness keepers along with scores of Red Rocks, some almost legal Dungy size. Alsea Bay has been particularly productive lately, and Yaquina Bay has really improved. Shellfish biologists say crabbing overall 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: The fleet has been mostly out fishing with short stops in port to deliver nice loads of Chinook, tuna, hake and shrimp. One tuna boat arrived at the pier the other day with about 9 tons in the hold; the skipper said they hit ‘em at about 95 miles northwest of Newport. The processing plants have been running long shifts with groundfish work and the shrimp packer’s outdoor shell-dump conveyor belt has been running almost constantly. So, if a visitor complains about the odor of fish on the Bayfront, you simply say, “Yup, that’s the smell of jobs.”
Fore-Cast: It looks like we’ll be transitioning back into a Summer weather pattern for the next several days. For river and reservoir fishermen that’ll mean tee-shirts and shorts. The bays will be breezy and choppy late in the day so bring a windbreaker. Ocean fishing will probably be a morning sport at least through the weekend. It’ll be over the bar at daylight and back in by noon as the nor’westers ramp up to 20-25 knots during the afternoons and evenings along with rough slab-sided 5-7 foot windwaves. 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