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Fishin’ with Chris

Chris Burns - Fishing

CENTRAL COAST FISHING
Week of November 20th

In the Creel: East winds and fairly benign seas have been a boon to ocean fishermen getting in on a red-hot bottom-fish bite. Lotsa limits came in this past week. Mackerel and lingcod fishing was nothing to sneeze at, either. The bays and rivers have slowed way down; most of the salmon available are hammered spawners, though an occasional bright one is reeled in. Next on the horizon will be winter steelhead, and we’re right on the cusp of their arrival. Crabbing has been okay, but clammers are wracked by the best low tides showing up after dark. So, as the storms return and the ocean gets rough again, this may be a good time to swap a few lies with your buddies. “No kiddin’, that hawg of a Chinook snapped my 50-pound test to get away.”

Salmon River: Fall Chinook fishing is slow as most fish are now actively spawning, but a small number of new fish should continue to trickle in over the next couple of weeks.

Siletz River/Bay: Fall Chinook and Coho salmon fishing is slow with anglers having the best success fishing the river between Illahee Park and Morgan Park. Most Chinook have moved onto the spawning grounds though some fresh Coho are still pulsing in. Summer steelhead fishing remains sluggish in the upper river. Up next, winter steelhead could start showing up in small numbers at any time.

Yaquina River/Bay: Fall Chinook fishing is slow as most fish have moved onto the spawning grounds. A handful of new fish should continue to move through over the next couple of weeks. Coho fishing has slowed down, too, but fresh silvers should also be making sporadic appearances.

Beaver Creek: Low, clear flows have made fishing conditions really tough. Rain is needed to get the fish moving, so cross your fingers because more precipitation is headed this way. A few hatchery Coho may still be around, and expect some early winter steelhead to show up in the next few weeks.

Alsea River/Bay: Fall Chinook and Coho salmon fishing is slow. The fall Chinook run is nearing the end but some new fish will still be sneaking in. Fresh Coho will also continue to move through the river but in smaller numbers. Winter steelhead season is approaching quickly and chrome-bright fish can be targeted in the lower river starting anytime now.

Central Coast Lakes: The wild Coho salmon fishery in Siltcoos and Tahkenitch Lakes is producing fair to good results. Look for our next good rain event to help move new fish up into the lakes. This time of year is typically peak season.

Saltwater angling and shellfish harvesting…

Ocean Fishing, Bay Crabbing and Clamming:

* BOTTOM FISH The ocean is open to bottom fishing at all depths. Fishermen have had a few days of nice (if cold) weather resulting in an easterly breeze and lower seas. Central Coast charters have returned with rockfish limits, including some colorful fish such as yellowtail and blue rockfish in addition to the common black rockfish. Lingcod catches were also impressive. Two charters were loaded to the gunnels with Pacific Mackerel on one day last weekend, and the mackerel themselves were ‘loading up’ on large schools of bait fish (mostly anchovies). The sport cabezon season remains open because there is quota remaining and will likely stay open through December 31st.

* SALMON/HALIBUT/CRAB Closed offshore.

* 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 remain open for razors. The next series of minus tides begins tomorrow, November 21st, and runs through the 27th; unfortunately they all occur after dark. November Tide Tables.

* BAY CLAMS The best low tides are in the evenings or overnight 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 Bay crabbing remains open year-round; and, in fact, the best months on the Central Coast are August through November! Ocean crabbing is closed.

Commercial Fishing: The fleet is gearing up for commercial crab season, which opens 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, November 24th-26th.

Fore-Cast: River, lake and bay fishermen should anticipate typical November weather with rainy and windy conditions some days, showers and sunbreaks others, and an occasional dry outing. Offshore, stormy weather is back with a gale in the forecast for Friday and additional weather fronts are predicted to arrive from the southwest every 24-36 hours well into next week. Always check the latest Bar Reports before you venture offshore.

Notices to Mariners… None this week.

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

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