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Fishin’ with Chris

Chris Burns - Fishing

CENTRAL COAST FISHING
Week of August 7th

In the Creel: Slammin’ salmon and hammerin’ halibut. That’s what ocean sport fishermen have been doing the past week. The all-depth halibut opener last weekend saw loads of limits and boats back at the cleaning stations before lunch. Coho are still on the bite and a few nice Chinook are coming in. We’re seeing better catches in the rivers now, too, with more cutthroat trout showing up in creels and coolers, though steelhead fishing is only slow to fair. The bays are downright bountiful these days with lots of rockfish, sea-run cutthroat and Dungeness crab. Plus, clammers are in for a treat over the next several days with a series of serious low tides. So, what’s for dinner?

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 Chinook and summer steelhead but catches are few and far between.

Siletz River: Steelhead fishing is slow to fair. The best chance to hook into a summer steelhead is in the early mornings from Moonshine Park up to the deadline. Meanwhile, the cutthroat trout fishery is fair to good with sea-run cutthroat being found throughout tidewater and up to the mid and lower sections of the river. Using small presentations such as spinners, jigs under a bobber, or fly fishing can produce good results.

Yaquina River: The Yaquina River and its tributaries can produce good cutthroat trout fishing with the sea-run cutthroat fishery picking up this week in the upper tidewater reach. Using small lures or fly fishing can be very productive or try trolling near the head of tide. Use of bait is not allowed above tidewater until September 1st.

Alsea River: The Alsea is open for cutthroat trout with many opportunities for bank fishing along Highway 34. Cutthroat are being landed in tidewater and the lower section of the mainstem river. Catches have been fair to good.

Central Coast Lakes: Rainbow fishing tends to be slow during the summer months as warm water temperatures can put trout off the bite. Fish early in the morning or near cool water zones until water temperatures start to cool off in the fall.

Click here to download the Chris Burns book, "Family Voyaging"

Saltwater fishing and shellfish harvesting…

Bays and Ocean:

* Rockfish catches are still mostly good. Fishermen are netting 4 or 5 per trip. The rate for lingcod has slumped again, down to one ling for every three fishermen. Anglers have been successful for rockfish in Yaquina Bay this past week using jigs and swim baits. The ocean outside of the 30-fathom curve is closed to bottom fishing until September 30th.

* Albacore tuna fishing has been decent when the ocean cooperates, and if you’re willing to go way out. Fish are available in good numbers along the Central Coast, but lately have been 40-50 miles offshore.

* Ocean salmon fishing for Coho has been very good for all ports from Florence up to the Columbia River, although the proportion of fin-clipped silvers has been decreasing from Pacific City south as the large body of hatchery fish are beginning to stage at the mouth of the Columbia. In all ports from Winchester Bay up to the Columbia, the salmon per fisherman ratio has been very good with better than a fish per angler; many Newport and Depoe Bay charters are returning with limits for all aboard. And, some big Cohos in the 20-pound range have come in. The Cape Falcon to California border selective (fin-clipped) Coho season ends this Monday, August 11th, but the ocean remains open for Chinook. Anglers are reminded to be careful in identifying salmon; many illegal non-clipped Coho have been landed by fishermen thinking they were Chinook. The most reliable feature to use is the lower gum line as described and displayed here. Do not use the color of the tongue, spotting, or size of the salmon as these can vary substantially. Tremendous returns of Chinook are forecast for the Columbia River this summer and should provide great fishing in the ocean off the Central Coast this month. The Cape Falcon to Humbug Mountain non-selective Coho season will open on August 30th to coincide with Labor Day weekend.

* The sport halibut nearshore season (inside the 40-fathom line) is open seven days a week until the quota is taken or October 31st. But the ‘buts are mainly out deeper, as evidenced by last weekend’s all-depth opener when almost everybody limited, and many boats were back at the dock by noon. Some boats fished just southwest of the Rockpile, others at the Chicken Ranch and Halibut Hill. All the regular humps were productive. ODFW has decided that there are enough halibut remaining in the quota for another all-depth opener next Friday and Saturday, August 15th-16th.

* Central Coast beaches are open for razor clamming. The best opportunities are around Newport at Agate Beach, North Jetty and South Beach. The next series of minus tides begins today, August 7th. These will include very good clamming tides with lows of minus 2 feet Sunday and Monday. August Tide Tables here.

* The early morning low tides during the week ahead provide one of the last good opportunities of the summer to dig for bay clams in the intertidal zone. Sport diggers should be able to collect daily limits of cockles, gapers and butter clams from the popular Central Coast sites in Siletz, Yaquina and Alsea Bays. For shellfish regs and identification, go here.

* Bay crabbing remains good to strong. Alsea Bay is still particularly productive and Yaquina Bay has hit its summer stride now with up to limits being pulled. Best pot drops have been an hour before to an hour after high tide.

Commercial Fishing: The fleet is mostly out fishing these days with short stops in port to deliver nice loads of Chinook, tuna, hake, black cod and shrimp. The processing plants are running 24/7. And, several commercial boats are now selling salmon and tuna directly to the public at the Bayfront port docks in Newport.

Fore-Cast: River fishermen will be enjoying another stretch of mostly sunny weather over the next week or so. For those who fish the bays, look for patchy fog and choppy/breezy afternoons/evenings. Offshore, it’s a summer regime, meaning head out over the bar at daylight, and be back in by noonish unless you wanna get beat up a little. The northwest winds are predicted to rise each afternoon and evening to 15-20 knots gusting 25 or higher right through the weekend and into next week. Steep windwaves of 4-6 feet will produce a bumpy ride. Always check the latest Bar Reports before you set a course offshore. NOTE: The dredge Sea Horse will be working in Yaquina Bay 24 hours a day near the US Coast Guard and NOAA docks beginning this Sunday, August 10th, and until the work is complete on or about September 15th. The Sea Horse, which will be regularly transiting the entrance channel to dump its sand offshore, monitors VHF Channels 13, 16 and 69A.

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

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