CENTRAL COAST FISHING
Week of January 1st
In the Creel: It’s a good thing the holidays coincided with the slowest fishing of the year, or Santa might have gone AWOL at Christmas. The exception here is offshore angling where bottom fishing has been red hot. The salmon seasons are now closed on the rivers and the strongest part of the steelhead run is yet to come. Crabbing is getting better as fresh water from the rivers is less of an issue in the bays. Clammers start off 2015 with the minus tides still occurring after dark. The good news? January will give us a better look at this year’s fishing seasons, quotas and stocking programs as ODFW releases the information. We’ll keep you posted.
Salmon River: Winter steelhead are starting to show up in most coastal basins. The Salmon River does get a good return of wild winter steelhead and an occasional stray hatchery fish.
Siletz River/Bay: Winter steelhead season is producing some results and we should see a small bump in the fishery following the recent flood event. Both bank and boat anglers should focus on the mid- to upper-river later in the week as flows and river conditions improve. Anglers are advised to watch for new obstructions and hazards produced from the recent high flows.
Yaquina River/Bay: The winter steelhead run is starting to kick-in with anglers getting into a few fish along the Big Elk as conditions allow.
Beaver Creek: Fishing for winter steelhead should be fair to good when conditions allow. This stream should be in good fishing condition this week, with flows dropping. Increasing numbers of fish will enter Beaver Creek over the next few weeks.
Alsea River/Bay: The winter steelhead fishery should see an increase following the recent flood. As flows drop and the river conditions come into shape, steelhead should be distributed through the river. Boat anglers are reminded to watch for new obstructions as flood waters often create new hazards. Fishing the upper river from the middle to later in the week should provide the best results. Good numbers of fish typically start returning over the next few weeks.
Central Coast Lakes: It’s a quiet time with most of the seasonal fisheries over and no stocking scheduled announced yet for 2015.
Saltwater angling and shellfish harvesting…
Ocean Fishing, Bay Crabbing and Clamming:
* BOTTOM FISH The ocean is open to bottom fishing at all depths. This time of year, whenever the weather permits, bottom fishing can be great fun and very productive. Large ocean swells limited ocean fishing activity last week, but some Central Coast charters went out and returned early with rockfish limits and a few nice lingcod. January is a good time to try for deep water lingcod. Cabezon closes today, January 1st, and will re-open on July 1st.
* SALMON Closed.
* HALIBUT Closed. The International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) will set 2015 quotas for all areas in late January 2015. More information on the 2015 seasons will be available after that time.
* CRAB Ocean-caught crabs are big and full of meat this year, although crabbers might have to pay their dues in patience — most crabbers are reporting slow catch rates, but excellent quality. When conditions allow, recreational ocean crabbing can be a good bet during the winter. Bay crabbing can also be very good this time of year. Keep in mind, though, that major rain events can dramatically lower the salinity in the bays pushing crab to lower in the bay or out to sea.
* 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 minus tides begin Friday, January 2nd, and run through the 7th; unfortunately they start by occurring at sunset and then advance to well after dark. And they’re not very low, the lowest being -0.60’. Click 2015 Tide Tables for the entire year’s tables.
* MUSSELS Mussels are open along the entire coast. These tasty treats can be fairly simple to harvest if you have the tides (see Tide Tables above).
* 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: Cephalopods are again at the gates. This time in the form of squid eggs covering crab pots to such a degree that crabs can’t get in. It’s a very messy situation when a gooey egg-covered pot weighing many pounds hits the landing box. While not everywhere, they are showing up in some areas in heavy numbers. One crab crew had to remove hundreds of pounds from the pots to get them fishing again. Yuck! What’s unusual is that this squid spawn doesn’t usually happen until around Easter. Some pots produced four or so crabs after cleaning, which is doing well for the low quantity available this year. The boats are fetching $4.00 or more per pound which is double what they would get in a high quantity season, so it’s not a total disaster. Though numbers are low, the crabs are of excellent quality this year! Bon appétit!
Fore-Cast: River, lake and bay fishermen are in for fairly seasonal weather over the next week. Cooler, yes, but look for normal rainy periods, a day or two of dry conditions and not much breeze. Offshore, the ocean settled down late this week due to an east wind event and the swell dropped to 2-3 feet. These conditions are allowing a lot of fishermen to get out. In the week ahead, we’ll bounce around a little in varying swell heights, 4-8 feet, and get some small craft advisory southerly winds, 20-25 knots, beginning on Sunday, but there’s nothing really serious showing up in the long term forecasts. Always check the latest Bar Reports before you venture offshore.
Notices to Mariners… Yaquina Head, Heceta Head and Cleft of the Rock lights are dark; they’re undergoing maintenance and temporarily extinguished. Also, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) US Coast Pilot 7, Pacific Coast: California, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii and Pacific Islands, 47th Edition 2015, has been issued and is ready for free download and weekly updates here.
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