CENTRAL COAST FISHING
Week of September 18th
In the Creel: Today and tomorrow are your last chances to get in on the red-hot wild Coho bite. The non-selective ocean season for silvers closes at midnight Friday, September 19th (see Salmon below). Meanwhile, tuna has really slowed down, which is not unusual for this time of year. Some charters have already stopped booking trips for albacore. Bottom fishing is fair, and crabbing appears to be just okay. Tides aren’t working for razor clamming, but bay clamming is still a good option for other species. In the rivers, lots of fall Chinook are moving in and, as of September 15th, wild Coho are legal now, too. The Fat Lady ain’t singin’ just yet; there’s still plenty of good fishing left this season.
Salmon River: Fall Chinook are moving into the system at a fair to good rate now. Your best chance for nailing a king is fishing the incoming tide or around high or low slack. Until the fall rains start, you should mostly focus efforts in tidewater. Cutthroat trout fishing is fair through the mainstem with sea-run cutthroat trout found in the lower portion of the river.
Siletz River: Fall Chinook fishing is producing good numbers of fish with anglers doing best in the lower to middle sections of tidewater. Trolling spinners or herring is working well during the incoming tide through high slack, and productive bobber fishing mid- to upper-tidewater has kicked in recently. The wild Coho fishery opened on September 15th. You’ll have the best catches trolling cut-plug herring or casting spinners from the bank in the lower river and around the mouth of the bay. Steelhead fishing has been slow. About the only chance to hook into a summer steelhead is in the early mornings from Moonshine Park up to the deadline. However, fire season is in full swing and the upper river above Moonshine Park has been closed to all public entry until further notice. The cutthroat trout fishery is fair with sea-run cutthroat being found in the middle to lower section of the river.
Yaquina River: Fall Chinook fishing has picked up recently with anglers having fair to good success trolling between River Bend and the airport boat launch. Trolling herring or large spinners on the incoming tide can be your best bet, especially around high slack. The wild Coho fishery opened on September 15th and some silvers have now entered the system. A good shot would be trolling herring or spinners in the lower bay up to around the oyster farm. Cutthroat trout fishing is fair with sea-run cutthroat found in upper tidewater and in the lower portions of the Yaquina and Big Elk above the head of tide.
Alsea River: Fall Chinook fishing is good with anglers catching fish from the mouth of the river all the way up through tidewater. Trolling herring or lures in the lower portion of the bay and near Drift Creek is working well and bobber fishing in the middle to upper section of tidewater has produced some nice kings. Fishing the incoming tide or the high and low slack tends to show the best results. The wild Coho salmon season opened on September 15th with anglers now picking up some silvers in the lower bay area. Trolling herring or casting spinners from the bank can be very effective for Coho. Sea-run cutthroat trout can be found in the lower to middle sections of the mainstem. Resident cutthroat trout are spread throughout the basin.
Central Coast Lakes: Rainbow fishing is 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 Fishing for bottom dwellers has been spotty, perhaps due to cold ocean water temperatures. Anglers have had to work to fill their bag limits, but a few more lingcod have been showing up in catches this past week. The ocean outside of the 30-fathom curve is closed to bottom fishing until September 30th.
* TUNA Overall albacore fishing continues to be fair to good. But the best catch rates have been south of the Central Coast off of Charleston and Winchester Bay with about 5 fish per angler. Albacore were reported to be as close as 16 miles offshore this past week. Typically these fish move closer to the beach in mid-September, though at the same time they seem to go off the bite.
* SALMON Great fishing and good weather throughout September means that quotas for ocean Coho should be met in the next couple of days. As a result, the area from Cape Falcon south to Humbug Mountain, including Central Coast offshore waters, will close for Coho salmon effective at midnight on Friday, September 19th. “This has been the absolute best September we’ve ever had for ocean Coho fishing,” says Eric Schindler, ODFW ocean salmon project leader. “There were more fish in the quota than we thought we’d ever catch in September, but fishing has just been phenomenal. Overall, the 2014 ocean salmon seasons yielded almost one salmon per angler per trip for the entire season, which is much higher than average. A total of 83,000 silvers were landed.” You can can continue to fish for Chinook off the Central Coast through the end of October. And, of course, local streams and rivers are now open for Coho.
* 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 39% of the quota remains for this fishery.
* RAZOR CLAMS Razor clamming is still 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, but there are no more minus tides in September. The next series doesn’t begin until October 7th, and those will be near sunset or after dark. October Tide Tables.
* BAY CLAMS The best low tides are now in the evenings, but even a +1.0 or +2.0 foot low can still allow bay clamming opportunities, especially for purple varnish clams that are often found when the tide is as high as +4.0 feet. Sport clammers should be able to collect 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 has slowed considerably. Ocean crabbing is improving and this past week was moderate to good off the Central Coast. The recreational ocean crabbing season is open through October 15th.
Commercial Fishing: Shrimp and hake continue to come in by the ton. One mid-water trawler delivered 300,000 pounds of whiting on a single trip this week. The shrimp-shell conveyor belt is running nearly fulltime on the Bayfront and other processors there are keeping their slime lines hummin’. Ocean conditions have allowed more effort over the past days and results have generally been fair to good for all commercial species.
Fore-Cast: In the week ahead, you’ll need just about everything out of your closet, from tank tops to raincoats. River and bay fisherman can expect warm and sunny conditions through the weekend; some rain by next week. Offshore, Friday N winds increase to 10-15 knots gusting 20 by afternoon, swells at 4-5 feet with a 2 foot chop on top. Weekend ocean fishermen will find mixed conditions. Sunny, hot and snotty on Saturday with N to NE winds, 15-20 knots gusting 25, NW swells of 7 feet and 4 foot windwaves. Southerlies are predicted for Sunday and Monday, 10-15 knots, with a W swell of 5 feet and 2-3 foot chop. Cloudy with rain and southerly winds the rest of next week. Always check the latest Bar Reports before you set a course offshore.
Notice to Mariners… Keep an eye out for the dredge Yaquina which is working in the entrance to Yaquina Bay, 24/7, from now through September 26th. The dredge monitors VHF Channels 13 & 16.
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