CENTRAL COAST FISHING
Week of August 28th
In the Creel: With Labor Day weekend upon us, there are myriad opportunities for putting some fresh seafood on the table. Non-selective (wild and hatchery) Coho season opens Saturday and all forecasts show there should be a heck of a lot of silvers out there. We’re also just getting into the fall Chinook run now with more of these big ol’ hawgs starting to show up in the ocean, bays and rivers. Tuna fishing has been good when boats are able to reach the schools, but the stiff winds and choppy seas this time of year often make it tough to get 30-plus miles offshore and back safely. It looks like halibut will be limited to the near-shore fishery for the rest of 2014 (see Halibut below). Crabbing has been generally good with limits some days but lousy pot-pulls on others. And, the rivers are producing decent catches of cutthroat trout, summer steelhead and even a few nice Chinook these days. “You get a line and I’ll get a pole…”
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. Summer steelhead fishing remains slow to fair. The best chance to hook into a feisty 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. Some charters are still limiting, but averages per angler overall are 4-5 rockfish out of the 7 allowed. Lingcod catches have picked up a bit this week, so give them a try after you limit on salmon. The ocean outside of the 30-fathom curve is closed to bottom fishing until September 30th.
* TUNA Getting to albacore is the hard part, not the fishing. Tuna trolling is highly dependent on weather and ocean conditions, so when they’re right, you do okay on the rod. This past week with iffy weather, catch rates dropped, but overall the fishing is still fair to good from Astoria south to Newport with average catch rates of 3-4 albacore per angler. Many of these tuna have been good-sized, too, in the 25-35 pound range. Central Coast anglers reported tuna around 30-35 miles offshore.
* SALMON All those wild silvers you’ve been throwing back can be kept starting this weekend. The non-selective wild and hatchery Coho season for the Central Coast opens this Saturday, August 30th. It then remains open until the 35,000 fish quota is reached or September 30th, whichever comes first. Chinook fishing was only fair along most of the coast this past week with catches running 0.25 Chinook per angler or less in most ports. As usual, some boats are hot and some are not. To correctly identify your salmon, brush-up here.
* 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. Meanwhile, the most recent (and highly successful) summer all-depth halibut opener on August 15th-16th consumed the remaining quota, so there’s no more ‘but fishing outside 40 fathoms this year.
* RAZOR CLAMS Central Coast beaches are open for razor clamming. Currently, as Clatsop beaches close for annual conservation measures, the hottest razor digging on the Oregon Coast is in Newport at Agate Beach, North Jetty and South Beach. The next series of minus tides begins Friday, September 5th. These will be okay but not great for razors. Surprisingly, there will be two minus tides each day (one morning, one evening) on September 9th and 10th. The series lasts through September 13th; after that, minus tides will occur only in the evenings until next year. September Tide Tables here.
* BAY CLAMS There is only one more early morning low tide series in 2014 for bay clammers. Beginning in mid-September, all minus tides shift to the evenings (see Tide Tables above). But, the good news is that low tides as high as +1.0’ to +2.0’ can still allow bay 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 and Yaquina Bays have been producing some real beauties. 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 fleet is still hard at work harvesting nice catches of tuna, Chinook salmon, groundfish, mid-water species and shrimp. A hake boat offloaded 266,000 pounds one day this week, so that gives you an idea of how this fishery is really cookin’. Commercial crabbing is closed until December, so the big pots are stacked everywhere but in the ocean.
Fore-Cast: River fishermen will once again enjoy the halcyon days of summer with plenty of sunshine and light winds over the next several days. On the bays, foggy mornings and maybe a little afternoon chop. Good news for those headed offshore chasing salmon and tuna, you’re in for a period of lighter winds right on through the holiday weekend. NNW winds 5-10 knots gusting 15 with a 3 foot swell and 2-3 foot windwaves is the forecast for Thursday through Saturday. Outlook is for swells rising to 5 feet Sunday and Monday, but winds remaining reasonable at 5-15 knots. The only fly in the ointment will be periods of fog and drizzle reducing visibility at times. Make sure your GPS and radar are working properly. 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