CENTRAL COAST FISHING
Week of January 29th
In the Creel: Offshore bottom fishing continues to be exceptional. In fact, last Sunday both the weather and the fishing were red-hot. Overall during the past week, charters and private boats have been bringing in quick limits, and the ocean has been mostly cooperative. The bays have been good fishing, too, with lots of greenling and perch being caught. As far as the rivers are concerned, winter steelhead may think it’s summer. Flows are low and clear and water temperatures are rising, so steelhead angling remains fair to good. Dungeness crabs continue to be elusive, and razor clams are hiding offshore below the not-so-low daylight tides. Get your copy of ODFW’s 2015 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations, here.
Salmon River: Winter steelhead fishing is fair to good in many coastal basins and the Salmon River typically follows this trend. As river flows continue to drop and clear this week, the middle to lower river should produce the best results. The Salmon 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. For instance, the deadline for steelhead fishing is at the confluence with Prairie Creek which enters the Salmon River west of the Van Duzer rest area at the same point where Sulpher Creek joins the Salmon.
Siletz River/Bay: Steelhead fishing is fair with a high proportion of wild fish mixed into the catch this season. As river levels continue to drop and clear this week, anglers should focus on the middle to lower river when fishing from a boat and above Moonshine Park from the bank. Typical steelhead tactics apply such as side drifting, bobber and jig/bait, or casting spoons or spinners. River conditions should be good through the weekend.
Yaquina River/Bay: The winter steelhead fishery is fair in the Big Elk. River conditions are low and clear this week and anglers should focus on the deeper holes and runs in the middle to lower reaches. Anglers are advised to watch for private property. Typical steelhead fishing tactics apply but the Big Elk is bed rock dominated and does have a lot of snags.
Alsea River/Bay: The winter steelhead fishery is fair to good throughout most of the river. This week should see flows continue to drop and clear. Fishing from the lower north fork down to around the Mike Bauer plunking shack should be productive. Casting lures, bobber and jig/bait or drifting beads along the bottom can be effective techniques in the Alsea this time of year.
Central Coast Lakes: 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. This past week was a good one for charter fishing, with trips going out of major ports every day. Most returned early with rockfish limits and moderate-to-good lingcod catches during the early part of the week. Private boats that went out during the week did well, too, on both rockfish and lingcod, although some focused just on lingcod. Larger swells starting last Friday brought bar restrictions, and while charters got out and brought back limits of rockfish, small boat activity in the ocean was limited. Many anglers out to enjoy the weekend’s beautiful weather opted to try for estuary fish. In Yaquina Bay, there were some good catches of greenling and sizeable striped surfperch.
* SALMON Closed.
* HALIBUT Closed. The International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) is meeting this week in Vancouver, BC, to set 2015 seasons and quotas. Stay tuned, we’ll let you know next week what’s in store for this year.
* CRAB Ocean and bay recreational Dungeness crabbers are continuing to report low catch rates, with lots of under-sized males and females coming up in the rings and pots, but only a handful of keepers.
* 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 happen on February 2nd and 3rd, but they’re only -0.1’. After that, you’ll have to wait for the February 16th-21st series which begins by occurring in the late afternoon and then advances to well after dark. And they’re not all that low, either, with the lowest being -1.2’. 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: Crabbing continues though not at the levels of earlier in the season. Catch rates are still below average. Other boats are either hauled out for a refit or already gearing up for the spring and summer fisheries.
Fore-Cast: Bay and river fishermen have another decent round of weather in store, at least until Sunday when rain becomes likely for a couple of days. But there’s a good chance that the middle of next week will see a return to mainly dry and partly to mostly sunny conditions. Offshore, there’s nothing serious on the horizon. Sunshine and fairly light nor’easters are expected into Saturday, but SW winds near Small Craft Advisory levels are possible Sunday and Monday. Things should settle down again by mid-week. Seas are projected to stay below 10 feet for the foreseeable future. Always check the latest Bar Reports before you venture offshore.
Notices to Mariners… Yaquina Head Light has been reactivated and is watching properly, Fl(2)20s. Electronic editions of all 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