CENTRAL COAST FISHING
Week of October 23rd
In the Creel: The rain may be keeping landlubbers indoors, but those who go out fishing are instead seeing the rain move a lot of fish into the rivers, and catch rates are going up. This is particularly true for the wild Coho run. Meanwhile, the ocean has been too rough for all but the hale and hearty; fishing offshore is reasonably problematic even on a ‘good’ day. Even the charter fleet has been mostly in port hoping for a break in the weather. Bottom fishing, though spotty due to poor sea conditions, may be picking up again; the winter bite can be red hot. Clammers are stuck with the lower low tides occurring after dark until next year, so not much effort recently, especially for razors. So, overall, we’re looking at a mixed creel this week, with Mother Nature in charge of affairs.
Salmon River: Fall Chinook fishing is fair to good with this week’s rain likely pushing a lot of fish out of tidewater. Casting lures or floating bait under a bobber should work well. Cutthroat trout fishing is fair through the mainstem with sea-run cutthroat found in the lower portion of the river.
Siletz River/Bay: Fall Chinook fishing is fair to good with anglers having success from the jaws all the way up to the deadline. Recent rains have pushed a lot of fish out of tidewater so anglers have a large fishing area to choose from. Trolling down low, bobber fishing or drifting down from the deadline should all produce through the weekend. The wild Coho fishery is producing good results with anglers catching fish around the mouth up to middle tidewater. Coho are also being caught above tidewater but to a lesser extent so far. Summer steelhead fishing is fair in the upper river above Moonshine Park. The cutthroat trout fishery is fair with sea-run cutthroat available throughout the mainstem. Using small presentations such as spinners, jigs under a bobber, or fly fishing can produce good results.
Yaquina River/Bay: Fall Chinook fishing is fair with anglers catching a few from around Sawyers Landing all the way to the head of tide near Elk City. Fish are in a variety of spawning stages but a good push of new bright fish is expected. Trolling herring, large spinners or bobber fishing on the incoming tide have been working, especially around slack tide. The wild Coho salmon fishery is fair with anglers having the best success in the lower river from Sawyers Landing up to the airport boat ramp. Trolling herring or spinners faster and higher in the water column than you would for Chinook is a good bet.
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. Using small lures or fly fishing can be very productive as well as trolling near the head of tide.
Alsea River/Bay: The fall Chinook fishery has slowed down recently in tidewater but rain events this week will really improve the bite. Fishing the river above tidewater should be productive through the weekend. The wild Coho salmon fishery is producing fair to good results in the middle to lower bay and we should see improvement in the river above tidewater following this week’s rain. Sea-run cutthroat trout can be found in the lower to middle section of the mainstem. Resident cutthroat are spread out through the basin. The Alsea has many opportunities for bank fishing along Highway 34.
Central Coast Lakes: Rainbow trout fishing should pick up as water temperatures drop. However, Big Creek Reservoirs have not been stocked since June and there are no current restocking dates listed by ODFW, so the number of fish available may be limited.
Saltwater angling and shellfish harvesting…
Ocean Fishing, Bay Crabbing and Clamming:
* BOTTOM FISH Fishing for bottom fish like yellowtail rockfish and lingcod continues to be spotty, and rough conditions have kept anglers off the ocean. But, anglers, don’t despair – bottom fishing in winter can be very productive when the ocean lets you get outside the jaws. The ocean is open to bottom fishing at all depths. The sport cabezon season remains open because there is quota remaining and the season will likely stay open through December 31st.
* TUNA Between an angry ocean and the albacore moving out of our area, most fishermen have now given up chasing tuna.
* SALMON Central Coast ocean waters, from south of Cape Falcon to Humbug Mountain, are open for Chinook salmon through the end of October. But catches continue very spotty. You’re likely to have the best success in the ocean by fishing near river mouths and targeting returning fish; or, better yet, just stay inside the bays.
* 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. It looks like there’ll be plenty of ‘but left in the quota to last until the end of the month.
* RAZOR CLAMS Razor clamming is closed from the Oregon/California border to Heceta Head due to elevated levels of amnesic shellfish toxin (ASP) or domoic acid. All other Central Coast beaches are open for razors. Due to a large number of small razor clams in the sand, diggers should be highly selective about which shows they pursue. Harvesters are reminded they must retain the first 15 clams regardless of size or condition. The next series of minus tides begins today, October 23rd; they’re not very low (-0.8’ is the lowest) and all occur after sunset. October Tide Tables.
* BAY CLAMS The best low tides are after sunset for the remainder of the year, but even a +1.0’ or +2.0’ low can allow bay clamming opportunities, especially for purple varnish clams that are often found when the tide is as high as +4.0’. 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 Recreational crabbing in the ocean is closed through November 30th. Bay crabbing remains open year-round; and, in fact, the best months for bay crabbing on the Central Coast are August through November! So, get your foulies on, grab your pots and head for the bay.
Commercial Fishing: The fleet is already gearing up for commercial crab season in December. Operation Safe Crab is a coordinated effort to protect fishermen in the Oregon and Washington Dungeness Crab Fishery. Many unsafe conditions can be detected and corrected at the dock prior to a vessel getting underway. Fishing vessel safety examiners will be conducting voluntary safety checks and dockside examinations in Newport October 28th-31st and November 24th-26th.
Fore-Cast: River fishermen will need decent raingear during the week ahead, as a lot more precipitation is on the way. Bay fishermen can expect some hefty breezes and serious chop at times when weather fronts pass through. On the ocean, expect SW winds Thursday 15 knots gusting to 25 and seas 9-10 feet at 12 seconds with showers and a chance of thunderstorms. The breeze eases to S 10-15 knots Thursday night and Friday, choppy seas about 9 feet. Outlook is for another storm Saturday with southerly gale-force winds rising to 25-30 knots gusting 35 or higher, seas building to 16 feet, and then up to 20 feet by Saturday night. Sunday and Monday we’ll be between systems so the wind drops to SW 10-15 knots with seas 12 feet subsiding to 7 feet. Next storm is on track for Monday night and Tuesday. Always check the latest Bar Reports before you set a course offshore.
Notices to Mariners…
* On October 20th, Oregon State University deployed four research buoys approximately 7 nautical miles SW of Yaquina Bay. For exact coordinates and more information, see latest US Coast Guard Local Notice to Mariners.
* Yaquina Head light has been discontinued until December for a lighthouse restoration project.
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