CENTRAL COAST FISHING
Week of February 5th
In the Creel: There’s a higher quota for this year’s sport halibut fishery! Looks like one percent more fish will be available in 2015 (see Halibut below). Offshore bottom fishing, which has been red-hot, is going to be a non-starter for the next few days. A series of fairly powerful storms is expected to produce a running gale warning and seas as high as 20 feet. Also, a heads-up to clammers working the low tides anywhere near the surf; big waves are a real possibility on through the weekend. So, we’re just going have to target those aloof winter steelhead in the rivers. Catches are still slow to fair, except for the Alsea which has really picked up. Or, how about trout? Did you know that Oregon trout are available 365 days a year? Fun to catch and great eatin’, too. Everything you ever wanted to know about local trout fishing is right here.
Salmon River: Winter steelhead fishing is fair. River conditions have been low and clear but forecast rains should improve fishing conditions or at least move some fish around. The river is open to harvest of wild winter steelhead through March 31st. Anglers are advised to read the new regulations as there are harvest restrictions and new deadlines in effect. 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 enters the Salmon.
Siletz River/Bay: Steelhead fishing is slow to fair. River conditions have been low and clear with most fish hanging around the middle to lower reaches. Rains this week should bring in some new fish and spread them out. 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 have been low and clear so you should focus on the deeper holes and runs. Predicted heavy rain should improve the conditions and move around some new fish. 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. Some real beauties have been caught recently. Conditions have been low and clear but rain this week should help get the fish moving again. Fishing from the town of Alsea down to the lower river should remain productive this week. Once the rains start and the river level goes above 5 or 6 feet, then the upper river will be your best bet. Casting lures, bobber and jig/bait or drifting beads along the bottom can be effective techniques 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 fun and rewarding during the winter months but you 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 Anglers did well offshore with black rockfish and lingcod this week, many limits of good-sized lings were caught. And along the shore, the sea trout have been biting. Kelp greenling and rock greenling, both sometimes called ‘sea trout,’ are commonly caught in rocky nearshore areas. Greenling tend to hug the bottom as they guard their nests, and are sometimes hooked in the body rather than the mouth. By the way, bottom fish snagged or foul-hooked in this manner may be kept. You also need to know about the new regulations for blue, copper, quillback and China rockfish. Check out the ODFW sport groundfish page, which includes some tools to help anglers correctly identify these species, here.
* SALMON Closed.
* HALIBUT Closed. The good news is that the 2015 sport halibut quota is approximately one percent greater than 2014. The bad news is that’s not enough to extend the seasons, so they are projected to be similar to last year. There will be a public meeting on February 11th at 7:00pm at the ODFW Marine Resources Program office at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport to get input on the number and timing of the Central Coast Subarea spring all-depth fixed and back up dates. Interested parties who can’t make that meeting in person can join by online webinar (connection information will be posted on ODFW’s sport halibut website and included in an upcoming news release). Input on the Central Coast season structure can also be provided via an online survey here.
* CRAB During the winter months, crabbing for Dungeness in the bays can be really slow, like it is right now. However, Red Rock crab can be plentiful during this time of year. Red Rocks are a native species but aren’t present in all of Oregon’s bays. Yaquina Bay is one that has them, lots of them. The daily limit is 24 per person, any size or sex. Most crabbers who pull Red Rocks keep only the largest ones which have a lot more meat than small ones.
* 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 February 16th-21st which begin by occurring near sunset and then advance 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 good clamming tides during daylight hours this month, but evening clamming can also be productive and fun. Don’t forget your headlamp, and keep an eye on the water, especially on beaches when the surf is up, like over the next few days. When you’re able to get your shovel or rake out, you 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: Commercial crabbing continues when weather allows. Catch rates are still below average. One crabber pulled a few hundred pots this week for a paltry 275 pounds. However, at $7.50 per pound, that’s still over $2,000. Other boats are either hauled out for a refit or already gearing up for the spring and summer fisheries.
Fore-Cast: The ocean is going to be a tough customer until Monday at least. The storm track is delivering a string of gales and high seas. Southerly winds 25-40 knots gusting 45-50 knots are projected over the next several days. Seas build to a peak of 20 feet or higher at times, and maintain 15-18 feet into next week. Bay fishermen and crabbers will be faced with blustery, choppy and rainy conditions. River anglers will want to wear foul weather gear as heavy rain is forecast, on and off, until Monday or Tuesday. Always check the latest Marine Forecast and Bar Reports before you venture offshore.
Notices to Mariners… Update Light List with Depoe Bay regulated navigation area warning sign in position 44-48-36.096N, 124-03-42.072W, worded ROUGH BAR with characteristic QY. Lights flash when bar is restricted to recreational and uninspected passenger vessels. The sign is visible from 017° to 263°. Also, the North and South Jetties at the Columbia River Entrance have suffered severe deterioration and may no longer be correctly represented on nautical charts of the area. Mariners should use caution when transiting in the vicinity of the jetties and the river entrance. The US Army Corps of Engineers has scheduled critical repairs of the North Jetty for June 2015 through October 2016, and rehabilitation of the South and North Jetties is scheduled for the years 2016 through 2019. More information may be found at the USACE’s Columbia River Entrance 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