CENTRAL COAST FISHING
Week of September 4th
In the Creel: “We already limited, so we’re headin’ in,” was the oft-repeated phrase on marine radio during Labor Day weekend. The non-selective ocean Coho season opened with a bang and there were lots of wild fish in the mix. Meanwhile, the big ol’ slabs, Chinook, are finding their way into the estuaries in greater numbers now as the fall runs kick in. When weather allows, tuna has been hot, too. Bottom fishing is up and down, so to speak, and a few nice lings are still being taken. Central Coast rivers are loading up with salmon, steelhead and cutthroat trout, including sea-run. Bay crabbing is quite good and clamming has been respectable. If you can’t harvest some seafood for your table this week, it’s because you aren’t trying.
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 angling is producing some big fish now with the best shot in the lower to mid sections of tidewater. Trolling spinners or herring seems to be working well, especially during the incoming tide through high slack. Steelhead fishing has been slow during the low flow and warm river conditions. 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 low clear flows. The cutthroat trout fishery is fair with sea-run cutthroat being found throughout tidewater and into the mid to lower section of the river. Using small presentations such as spinners, jigs under a bobber, or fly fishing can produce good results.
Yaquina River: Some fall Chinook are starting to come into the lower bay and up to around the oyster farm. The Yaquina run tends to be a little behind some of the other local basins. Trolling herring or large spinners on the incoming tide can be productive. Cutthroat trout fishing is fair with the sea-run component starting to improve in mid to upper tidewater. Using small lures or fly fishing can be very productive as well as trolling near the head of tide.
Alsea River: Fall Chinook are starting to enter the river with anglers having some success now from the mouth of the bay up to around the Drift Creek area. Trolling herring or lures in the lower portion of the bay and near Drift Creek usually produces the hottest bite early in the season. Fishing the incoming tide tends to give the best results. Sea-run cutthroat trout can be found in tidewater and in the lower to middle section of the mainstem. Resident cutthroat trout are spread throughout the basin. The Alsea has many opportunities for bank fishing along Highway 34.
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 Bottom fish have been back on the bite with good to great results coastwide. Many charters are limiting on rockfish. Lingcod catches have picked up again this past week, too, 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 As always, access to albacore is highly dependent on weather and sea conditions. Overall, tuna trolling continues to be good, with charters landing 15-50 fish per trip. Many of these albacore have been in the 25-35 pound range. Central Coast anglers report tuna running about 30-35 miles offshore. Albacore are typically in areas where sea surface temperatures are warmer than 58F.
* SALMON The non-selective (wild and hatchery) Coho season for Central Coast ocean waters opened last Saturday. It remains open until the 35,000 fish quota is reached or September 30th, whichever comes first. Average catches so far are over a salmon per angler, but many boats are limiting out before noon. Ocean Chinook fishing was only fair along most of the coast this past week. 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. The most recent report shows that about 45% of the quota remains for this fishery.
* RAZOR CLAMS Razor clamming has been closed from the Oregon/California border to Heceta Head due to elevated levels of domoic acid. All other Central Coast beaches are open for razors. With the Clatsop beaches north of us also closed (for annual conservation measures), the best razor digging on the Oregon Coast is in the Newport area at Agate Beach, North Jetty and South Beach. The next series of minus tides begins tomorrow, Friday, September 5th. These tides will be okay but certainly not great for razors. On September 9th and 10th, there are two minus tides each day (one morning, one evening). The series lasts through September 13th; after that, minus tides will only occur 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; it starts tomorrow, Friday. 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 quite good. 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 decent in the ocean off the Central Coast. The recreational ocean crabbing season is open through October 15th.
Commercial Fishing: The fleet is hard at work harvesting tons of tuna, Chinook salmon, groundfish, mid-water species and shrimp. Some local processors have been running around-the-clock shifts.
Fore-Cast: River fishermen will be in tank tops and shorts for the next few days as warm and sunny weather prevails, though some cooling is expected by Sunday and into next week. On the bays, afternoon and evening chop along with breezy conditions and patchy fog are in the cards. Offshore, relatively strong winds of 20-25 knots gusting 30 and rough seas are projected through Saturday. Sea and wind conditions may subside to reasonable levels by Sunday, though a return to onshore flow will allow areas of fog to develop. Always check the latest Bar Reports before you set a course offshore.
Notice to Mariners: The Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) project is underway. This global network of ocean data retrieval instruments (and free access to the resultant information) includes underwater gliders, surface and sub-surface buoys and specific benthic sites, all linked together by submarine cables. OOI now has a special web page for ocean fishermen where you can check on the status of cable-laying operations and other activities in local waters, like the work in progress NE of Stonewall Bank. Go here for the OOI Fishing Community page. Or, go here for the latest OOI Safety Advisory for the Central Coast.
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