CENTRAL COAST FISHING
Week of August 21st
In the Creel: Tuna and halibut have really been coming in over the gunnels as ocean sport fisherman enjoyed a very good week. Cooperative weather and high success rates are putting lots of yummy fish on barbies and in freezers and smokers. River fishermen are landing some very nice cutthroat trout these days and even some fall Chinook are now making their way into coolers. Crabbing has been excellent with Central Coast bays reporting quite respectable pot-pulls. Commercial fishing ain’t so bad, either, with tuna landings up and salmon commanding a reasonable price. By the way, a report released this week shows that income from commercial fishing has grown 37-percent in Lincoln County over the past decade.
Salmon River: Cutthroat trout fishing is fair to good from tidewater through the mainstem with sea-run cutthroat found in the lower portion of the river. Use of bait is not allowed above the head of tide but small spinners, spoons or fly fishing can be very productive. Some fall Chinook are starting to move in on the high tides with the best success this time of year coming from the lower bay up to the Highway 101 bridge.
Siletz River: Fall Chinook fishing is starting to pick up in the lower to middle sections of tidewater. Trolling spinners of herring seems to be producing the best results at this time. Look to fish early in the morning and during the incoming tide through high slack. 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. Using small spinners, jigs, or pieces of bait can be effective during these low clear flows. The cutthroat trout fishery is fair to good with sea-run cutthroat being found throughout tidewater and into the middle 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: We’re starting to see some early returning fall Chinook. The Yaquina is producing some catches between River Bend and the Toledo Airport boat ramp. Trolling herring or large spinners on the incoming tide can be fruitful. The Yaquina River Basin and many tributaries have good cutthroat trout fishing now with the sea-run cutthroat fishery picking up in the upper tidewater reach. Using small lures or fly fishing can be very productive as well as trolling near the head of tide. Use of bait is not allowed above tidewater until September 1st.
Alsea River: A small number of Chinook salmon are starting to enter the river. Trolling spinners of herring in the lower portion of the bay will give you the best results early in the season. Sea-run cutthroat trout can be found in tidewater and in the lower to middle section of the mainstem. Resident cutthroat are spread throughout the basin. The Alsea has many opportunities for bank fishing along Highway 34 as well as some good riverside camping options. Use of bait is not allowed above the head of tide until September 1st. However, using small lures such as spinners, spoons, jigs or crank baits can be very effective. Fly-fishing dry flies, nymphs, or streamers can also produce well.
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.
Saltwater fishing and shellfish harvesting…
Bays and Ocean:
* BOTTOM FISH Angling for bottom fish has been slow to moderate coastwide when weather permits. Lingcod have been elusive on the Central Coast recently. Fishermen have been successful for rockfish in Yaquina Bay using jigs and swim baits. The ocean outside of the 30-fathom curve is closed to bottom fishing until September 30th.
* TUNA Access to albacore is highly dependent on weather and ocean conditions. This past week, though, excellent albacore fishing occurred off Newport with average catch rates approaching 7 tuna per angler. Many of these fish have been really good-sized, too, in the 25-35 pound class. Central Coast anglers reported tuna around 30-40 miles offshore. 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. Both of these conditions can change very quickly due to weather and upwelling.
* SALMON Retention of Coho salmon is prohibited until the season reopens on August 30th for the Central Coast. Chinook fishing was slow along most of the coast; anglers out of Depoe Bay had the best catches with 0.5 Chinook per fisherman. You are reminded to be very careful in identifying salmon; many illegal non-clipped Coho have been landed by fishermen thinking they were Chinook, and expensive tickets were issued. 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 attributes can vary substantially between species.
* HALIBUT The Central Coast Subarea (Cape Falcon to Humbug Mountain) nearshore Pacific halibut season, inside the 40-fathom line, is open seven days a week until the quota is taken or October 31st. Through August 10th, 50-percent of the quota remains for this fishery. Meanwhile, the most recent summer all-depth Pacific halibut opener was August 15th-16th. Initial word from the docks suggests that many folks limited, with a nice grade of fish. ODFW will evaluate halibut catch numbers by noon tomorrow, August 22nd, and determine whether or not sufficient quota remains for a subsequent opener.
* RAZOR CLAMS 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 Sunday, August 24th. These are not great razor digging tides, however, with lows of only -0.1’ August Tide Tables here.
* BAY CLAMS There are only two more early morning low tide series in 2014 for bay clammers. Beginning in mid-September, the low tides shift to the evenings. Low tides as high as +1.0’ to +2.0’ can still allow clamming opportunities, especially for purple varnish clams that can sometimes be found when the tide is as high as +4.0 feet. Sport clammers should be able to dig daily limits of cockles, gaper clams and butter clams from the popular sites in Siletz, Yaquina and Alsea Bays. For shellfish regs and identification, go here.
* CRAB 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. Crabbing is also good in the ocean off the Central Coast. The recreational ocean crabbing season is open through October 15th.
Commercial Fishing: The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife reported Tuesday that commercial fish tickets through last Friday revealed 3,356,000 pounds of tuna were landed off the Oregon Coast since July 3rd, compared with 2,832,000 pounds over the same period in 2013. Salmon has been fair to good, too. Last week, boats that got out and battled the windy chop had the kind of Chinook fishing that may only happen once a season. And the value per pound went back up after a brief bottoming out at $3.75. Small ‘pick-up truck’ buyers were eagerly paying $5.00 a pound.
Fore-Cast: Pretty much a summer outlook for all types of fishing in the days ahead. Anglers along the rivers can expect mostly sunny days and light winds. If you’re fishing or crabbing in the bays, sunshine after calm mornings with patchy fog, and then breezy afternoons with wind chop. Offshore, look for typical weather for this time of year with patchy fog, mostly sunny afternoons and northwest winds rising to 10-20 knots late in the day. Swells are expected to stay around 5 feet with windwaves 2-4 feet through the weekend. 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 until its 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