CENTRAL COAST FISHING
Week of December 4th
In the Creel: Unless the ocean allows you permission to get out for the excellent bottom fishing, fish in general are few and far between right now. There are still a couple spots to pick up a bright Chinook or a steelhead, but you’ll have to work at it. The Moon continues messing with the tides and clammers are mostly home sharpening their shovels and rakes. There are plenty of fat and full crabs around, but rain has pushed a lot of them offshore, so once again ocean conditions will be the determining factor. Your time might be best spent putting together a Christmas list of fishing goodies you’d like from Santa. Remember, he fishes during his off-season and knows what works.
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. Summer steelhead fishing is about done but the first winter steelhead are starting to show up 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 of weeks.
Beaver 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. 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 still 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 slow due to ocean and bar conditions. The ocean kept small boats on the Central Coast from getting out much until Sunday. Some charters have since made trips over the past few days and most anglers got limits with a mix of blue, yellowtail, and black rockfish; they also reeled in limits of very nice lingcod up to 35 pounds. 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 is open year-round. 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 is open.
* 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 latest series of minus tides is underway now and runs through December 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: The fleet is out crabbing right now, but the start of the season was marred by several incidents, one of them major. The 75-foot f/v Blazer sank about 8 miles west of Siletz Bay on Saturday; fortunately, all five souls aboard were rescued by the US Coast Guard’s Newport Air Facility helicopter and Station Depoe Bay’s motor lifeboat. At least a couple of other boats were forced to dump their crab pots over the side to prevent foundering in rough seas. But for those boats working their pots, our commercial fishing insider has this to say: “Rumor has it that the fat and full crabs being delivered could mean a sweet but short season. Santa will likely be happy as there is no strike and paychecks are on their way. Everyone should be looking forward to enjoying best of the season crab; and at the lowest price of the year!”
Fore-Cast: Seasonal December weather is in store for river, lake and bay fishermen over the next week – mostly wet and sometimes windy. Offshore doesn’t look good. Starting this weekend and on through next week it appears a series of storms will impact local ocean waters packing winds to gale force and seas building into the teens or higher. 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