CENTRAL COAST FISHING
Week of February 12th
In the Creel: If you’ve been dreaming over the winter about getting back to some great trout fishing, wake-up and head for the Central Coast reservoirs. They’re being stocked right now (see below) and the weather looks terrific for the week ahead. Meanwhile, if you plan to get in on the excellent rockfish and lingcod action offshore, it looks like ocean conditions are trending calmer. In the rivers, winter steelhead are a bit confused by high and muddy water with catch rates only fair to good. But, flows should be dropping and a better bite may follow before it fades for the season. Razor clammers have only marginal minus tides to work with next week, but they’re low enough for some good bay clamming. Dungy crabbing is still slow, especially since the big rains flooded the bays with freshwater. All in all, though, things are picking up and it’s about time to get your grill warmed up.
Salmon River: Winter steelhead fishing is fair. River conditions will be high and turbid but should improve going into the weekend. 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 west of the Van Duzer rest area at the same point where Sulpher Creek comes in.
Siletz River/Bay: Steelhead fishing has been slow to fair but with a good number of native steelhead being caught and released. River conditions are high and turbid but should improve as the week goes on. Typical steelhead tactics apply such as side drifting, bobber and jig/bait, or casting spoons or spinners.
Yaquina River/Bay: The winter steelhead fishery is fair in the Big Elk. River conditions will be high and turbid initially this week but should improve as flows drop. The fishery typically starts to slow this time of year but a final good push of fish is expected following the recent rain events. Anglers are advised to watch for private property. Typical steelhead fishing tactics apply but the Big Elk is bedrock dominated and does have a lot of snags.
Alsea River/Bay: The winter steelhead fishery is fair to good throughout most of the river. River conditions for the weekend will be a bit high and turbid but should continue to improve into the week ahead. During higher flows, fishing the upper river will produce the best chances. Plunking during the higher flows can also be very effective. Casting lures, bobber and jig/bait or drifting beads along the bottom can be a good bet.
Central Coast Reservoirs: Trout stocking by ODFW began locally this week. 1,000 legal-sized rainbows are going into Big Creek Reservoir 1; 2,000 in Big Creek Reservoir 2; and another 2,000 in the Olalla Creek Reservoir. So, grab the kids and head out for some great trout angling this weekend. An additional 5,000 fish will be planted in Central Coast reservoirs next week, and they’ll be restocked monthly through June.
Saltwater angling and shellfish harvesting…
Ocean Fishing, Bay Crabbing and Clamming:
* BOTTOM FISH With ocean conditions improving, there’ll be more opportunity in the week ahead to get back offshore for the winter rockfish and lingcod bite, which can be really good. Charter boats are gearing up for trips out starting Friday. But, be aware of the new regulations for blue, copper, quillback and China rockfish, Check out the ODFW sport groundfish webpage here.
* SALMON Closed.
* HALIBUT Closed.
* CRAB During the winter months, crabbing for Dungeness in the bays can be really slow, and it continues to be so.
* 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. They begin by occurring near sunset and then advance to well after dark. These tides aren’t all that low, 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. 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 crabbers finally got out again this week after being stuck in port during the recent week-long bout of extremely rough weather. Sometimes, crabbing picks up after stormy conditions, so we’ll see how it plays out. Prices for crab are good right now, too, at $8.75/pound and rising. Other boats are prepping for the salmon troll season, which is still down the road a ways. But, fresh local Chinook will be in the markets before you know it.
Fore-Cast: Finally, it looks like offshore fishermen are getting a break as the ocean settles down following the storms of late. Might be a little rough yet Thursday and Friday as a mixed swell train ripples through local waters, but the weekend may be more like Summer conditions with northerly winds and a smidge of chop. Next week should be mellower yet. River, reservoir and bay fishermen can expect mostly sunny days and light winds, maybe some fog in the mornings, and fairly light breezes through the week ahead. Always check the latest Marine Forecast and Bar Reports before you venture offshore.
Notices to Mariners… Yaquina Head and Heceta Head lights are both back on and watching properly.
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