CENTRAL COAST FISHING
Week of January 15th
In the Creel: With summer-like weather the past week, lots of fishermen have been working the rivers, bays and offshore. Results have varied, but winter steelhead has continued to pick up and the ocean bottom fish bite, though not smokin’ hot, has been on medium-high. We’ll probably see less effort in the week ahead as the weather turns snotty for a few days. Crabbing remains exceedingly slow and there’s still no joy for clammers as the best tides have chosen to appear after dark. Before you dig a clam, pull a crab pot, bait a hook or cast a lure, take time to thumb through ODFW’s 2015 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations. There are several bag-limit and season changes this year. Click here for your downloadable copy.
Salmon River: Winter steelhead fishing is starting to pick up in many coastal basins. The Salmon River is open to harvest of wild winter steelhead through March 31st. Anglers are advised to read the new regulations (see above) as there are harvest restrictions and new deadlines in effect.
Siletz River/Bay: Steelhead fishing is slow to fair but should start to get better in the coming weeks. Fish can be found throughout the river for both bank and boat anglers. River conditions should be fair to good through the weekend, depending on how much rain we get.
Yaquina River/Bay: The winter steelhead fishery is fair to good now in the Big Elk. River conditions should remain in decent shape through the weekend though potential heavy rain may muddy it up. You’re advised to watch for private property. Typical steelhead angling tactics apply but remember that the Big Elk is bedrock-dominated and does have a lot of snags.
Alsea River/Bay: The winter steelhead fishery has been producing fair to good results recently. Best fishing this week should be in the middle to lower reaches of the Alsea if the flow doesn’t rise too much due to predicted heavy rain events.
Central Coast Lakes: Not much action right now with most of the seasonal fisheries over and no new fish arriving or currently being planted. The 2015 stocking schedule for Central Coast lakes is expected to be announced in March and we’ll let you know as soon as it’s available. Fishing for the various warm water fish species can still be productive during the winter months but anglers may need to target different areas of the lakes, typically deeper than when fishing in the spring or summer.
Saltwater angling and shellfish harvesting…
Ocean Fishing, Bay Crabbing and Clamming:
* BOTTOM FISH The ocean is open to bottom fishing at all depths. Calm seas over the past week brought good fishing, with anglers bringing home mostly lingcod, black rockfish, yellowtail rockfish, and a few blue and other nearshore rockfish. For 2015, the seven-fish marine daily bag limit is still in effect with the following changes: yelloweye rockfish, canary rockfish, quillback rockfish, copper rockfish and china rockfish must be returned to the water unharmed. You may retain black rockfish, vermillion rockfish, rock greenling, sablefish, yellowtail rockfish and kelp greenling. You may also keep up to three blue rockfish per angler. The lingcod separate bag limit remains two per angler. Cabezon is closed and doesn’t reopen until June 30th when one fish will be allowed per day.
* SALMON Closed.
* HALIBUT Closed. The International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) will set 2015 quotas for all areas in a couple of weeks; we’ll let you know when they do.
* CRAB Ocean and bay recreational crabbers are continuing to report very low catch rates. Keep in mind that major rain events dramatically lower the salinity in some bays and prompt crab to move lower in the bay or out to the ocean.
* 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. During the winter months, pay close attention to the surf forecasts and be on the beach one to two hours before low tide. If the forecast calls for combined seas over 8 or 10 feet, razor clamming can be very difficult because the clams tend to show much less in those conditions. The next minus tide series begins Sunday, January 18th, and runs through the 23rd. The series starts with the tides occurring at sunset and then advancing to well after dark. And they’re not all that low, the lowest being -1.5’. Click 2015 Tide Tables for the entire year’s tables.
* MUSSELS Mussels are open along the entire coast. They’re fairly simple to harvest even in moderately low tides (see Tide Tables above).
* BAY CLAMS Low tides as high as +1.0 to +2.0 feet can still allow clamming opportunities, especially for purple varnish clams that can sometimes be found when the tide is as high as +4.0 feet. There are limited but good bay clamming tides during daylight hours this month, looking best for a few days right now and again during the last week of January (see Tide Tables above). 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: With a cooperating ocean, the local fleet has been out setting and pulling crab pots. Results are about like they’ve been since the season began last month. No great numbers, but the crab coming to the docks are big and packed full of succulent meat.
Fore-Cast: Bay and lake fishermen will have to switch from this past week’s summer-wear to winter raingear this weekend. But some dry and sunny conditions are expected to return beginning Monday or Tuesday. Ocean weather, which has been excellent for most of the past week, is about to get rough again for a few days. Gales are predicted through the coming weekend with lumpy seas lingering at least into the early part of next week. Always check the latest Bar Reports before you venture offshore.
Notices to Mariners… Yaquina River Buoy 30 has been reset on station. Alsea Bay Bridge lights have been fixed and are now watching properly. Electronic editions of the 2015 Light Lists are available on the USCG Navigation Center’s website 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