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Fishin’ with Chris

Chris Burns - Fishing

CENTRAL COAST FISHING
Week of November 27th

In the Creel: Turkey is on the near-term menu, but you’ll be hankerin’ for seafood before long. So, what’s available? For one thing, there’ll be crab in the stores and at the docks early next week after commercial Dungeness season opens on Monday. For those that don’t harvest their own, here’s a chance for the first fresh Dungies in a while. For those who fish, the best bite will probably be bottom fish offshore, if and when the ocean cooperates. Inshore, clamming remains hindered by offbeat tides, the lowest ones occurring after dark for the rest of the year. The bays and rivers are slow with only a few salmon still around, but winter steelhead are already arriving. –Happy Thanksgiving!

Salmon River: Fall Chinook fishing is slow as most fish have or are now actively spawning. However, a small number of new fish should continue to enter the river over the next couple weeks.

Siletz River/Bay: Fall Chinook fishing is slow as most have moved onto the spawning grounds. Small numbers of chrome fish will continue to move in over the next few weeks. Good numbers of Coho are still moving in and should remain productive through the closure date of Sunday, November 30th. Summer steelhead fishing is slow but the first winter steelhead are starting to show in the lower river.

Yaquina River/Bay: Fall Chinook fishing is slow as most fish have moved onto the spawning grounds, but small numbers of new fish should continue to move through over the next couple weeks. Coho salmon fishing has slowed down and anglers are reminded that the wild Coho season ends this Sunday, November 30th.

Beaver Creek: Coho was really hot over the past week as rain got the fish moving and lotsa limits came out of the creek. Recent rains should bring some early winter steelhead into the system, and fishing will improve over the next few weeks as more fish arrive.

Alsea River/Bay: The fall Chinook run is nearing the tail-end but some late arrivals are still expected through the next few weeks. Pulses of Coho will continue to move through the river, too, but in smaller numbers. Anglers are reminded that the wild Coho fishery ends on Sunday, November 30th. Winter steelhead season is approaching with reports of a few steelhead already being caught in the lower river.

Central Coast Lakes: The wild Coho salmon fishery in Siltcoos and Tahkenitch Lakes is producing fair to good results. The lakes are likely past the peak return but should continue to be productive over the next few weeks. Anglers have success either trolling or casting lures such as spinners, spoons, hot shots, mag warts or some type of rattle/wiggle bass plug. Areas to focus on are near the lake outlets or the major tributaries to the lakes.

Saltwater angling and shellfish harvesting…

Ocean Fishing, Bay Crabbing and Clamming:

* BOTTOM FISH The ocean is open to bottom fishing at all depths. Effort has been minimal due to rough ocean and bar conditions. Anglers who fished out of Depoe Bay did well this past week on lingcod, with just a few rockfish per angler. The sport cabezon season remains open because there is quota remaining and will likely continue through December 31st.

* SALMON/HALIBUT Closed offshore.

* CRAB Bay crabbing remains open year-round but usually slows down in the winter. Crabs are in very good condition right now, if you can find them. Keep in mind that major rain events can dramatically lower the salinity in some bays and prompt crab to move lower in the bay or out to sea. Recreational ocean crabbing reopens on Monday, December 1st, following its annual six-week closure.

* RAZOR CLAMS Razor clamming is still 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 Wednesday, December 3rd, and runs through the 9th; unfortunately they all occur near or after dark. December 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.

Commercial Fishing: Landlubbers will see what appears to be a small city offshore in the next few days and nights as commercial crabbing’s 73-hour presoak (pot setting) begins Friday morning, November 28th, at 8:00am. Inspections will be held Sunday, November 30th, and if all goes according to plan, crabbers can start pulling pots on Monday, December 1st, at 9:00am.

So, what’s it like to be a commercial crabber? Here’s an account by a former crab boat skipper: “Imagine the pre-season scene at the docks – frantic crabbers zooming recklessly about, not yet ready, and most saddled with last-minute mechanical or deckhand breakdowns. Even though there are pretty good forecast numbers for crab this year, after two months or so, most of the keeper-sized males are mined down, so under-sized males and/or females make up the bulk of the catch. And of course, there’s pot-loss from floating kelp islands, boat props, etc. It can all make it seem hardly worth the cost of fuel and overhead. To top it off, deckhands start disappearing when the dollars (per unit of effort) run low. It’s a crazy and stressful thing to take on. I’m almost glad my wife has forbidden me to play anymore.”

Fore-Cast: River, lake and bay fishermen should look for typically seasonal weather over the next week. Rainy and windy conditions on some days, showers and sunbreaks others, and an occasional dry but cold and windy outing. Offshore, for the start of the commercial crabbing season presoak period on Friday, expect W wind 10-15 knots gusting 20, seas 10 feet at 13 seconds. Saturday, N wind 15-20 knots, seas 7 feet. And for Sunday, it looks like a switch to E winds 15-20 knots with seas subsiding to 5 feet. Monday’s season opener will probably feature east winds 10-15 knots and seas around 5 feet. Always check the latest Bar Reports before you venture offshore.

Notices to Mariners… Heceta Head Light is currently out, and Yaquina Head Light remains temporarily extinguished.

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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