CENTRAL COAST FISHING
Week of February 19th
In the Creel: This no winter winter has really put us in the swing of things early this year. There’s a hot bite offshore on rockfish and lingcod (limits before lunch), the reservoirs are stocked with tons’o’trout, bay clamming has been excellent during this week’s minus tides, and crabbing should be getting better shortly if the rains hold off. Ironically, the only bite that’s uncharacteristically slow for this time of year is winter steelhead; these feisty finnies remain confused with the abnormal spring-like conditions and apparently aren’t interested in going after bait or lures right now. Looking ahead, we should know more about our chances for salmon this year after a forecast meeting planned for next week. Let’s go fishin’!
Salmon River: Winter steelhead fishing is slow to fair. River conditions will be low and clear for the week. Anglers should focus on the deeper holding water or try to fish the middle to lower sections as new fish pulse into the system. 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 enters the Salmon River.
Siletz River/Bay: Steelhead fishing is slow. River conditions will be low and clear for the week ahead. Bank fishing in the upper gorge area or floating the middle to lower reaches will produce the best results. 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 slow in the Big Elk. River conditions will be low and clear this week. The fishery is typically slow this time of year. 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. As river conditions continue to drop and clear through the week, look to fish the deeper holding water and in the middle to lower river as new fish enter the system. Casting lures, bobber and jig/bait or drifting beads along the bottom can be effective techniques.
Central Coast Reservoirs: Trout stocking by ODFW began locally last week. 1,000 legal-sized rainbows went into Big Creek Reservoir 1; 2,000 into Big Creek Reservoir 2; and another 2,000 into the Olalla Creek Reservoir. An additional 5,000 fish will be planted in Central Coast reservoirs this week, and they’ll be restocked monthly through June.
Saltwater angling and shellfish harvesting…
Ocean Fishing, Bay Crabbing and Clamming:
* BOTTOM FISH The bite continues smokin’-hot for rockfish and danged good for lingcod with boats returning early in the day with limits. We saw a charter boat come into Depoe Bay on Saturday before noon carrying tubs filled with black rockfish and limits across the board for all fishermen. But, be aware of the new regulations for blue, copper, quillback and China rockfish. Check out the ODFW sport groundfish webpage here.
* SALMON Closed. The 2015 Ocean Salmon Industry Group meeting (OSIG) is coming up next week on Thursday, February 26th, at the Hallmark Resort in Newport. This pre-season planning meeting will provide an early look at the 2015 salmon forecasts, and develop Oregon preferred recreational and commercial ocean salmon fishing concepts to take forward through the Pacific Fishery Management Council regulation-setting process. For more information, see the ODFW Ocean Salmon webpage, here.
* HALIBUT Closed. The 2015 Pacific halibut quota is approximately 1% greater than 2014. Therefore, sport halibut seasons are projected to be similar to last year. The staff-recommended season dates should be available early next week, and finalized by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife commission in April.
* CRAB During the winter months, crabbing for Dungeness in the bays can be really slow, and it continues to be so this week. It may pick up before long, though, if the rains hold off and salinity increases in the bays.
* 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. Minus tides are underway now through Saturday, February 21st. They’re occurring near sunset and advancing to well after dark. These tides aren’t all that low, either, with the lowest being -1.2’. The next series begins March 18th, with the lowest only -0.7’. 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 Central Coast clammers had a great weekend, with beautiful weather and low tides setting up some good opportunity for digging last weekend. When able to get out, 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. Low tides as high as +1.0’ to +2.0’ can still allow clamming opportunities, especially for purple varnish clams that can sometimes be found when the tide is as high as +4.0’. See ODFW’s bay clam webpage for more information on where and how to dig, clam identification, etc., here.
Commercial Fishing: Crab prices are up to a current value of $9.50/pound, so it’s certainly still worth dropping some pots. Perhaps with so many boats giving it up, there are more crabs per active vessel. With the average weight of 1.8 pounds per crab, the local fleet is doing well in such a low-numbers year. It goes to show you what these crustaceans are really worth. It’s a textbook case of supply and demand, and may be the game-changer in future pre-season price negotiations with the corporate big kids. There are still reports of ‘bait columns’ and lots of birds feeding. This could bode well for the upcoming salmon troll season as there’s obviously an abundant food supply. Many skippers are already jamming to get their boats troll-ready with fresh bottom paint and new zincs.
Fore-Cast: River, reservoir and bay fishermen can expect decent unseasonably warm weather over the next week. Sunshine, light winds and above normal temperatures will make inshore angling a real treat. Offshore, a Summer-like pattern with be in vogue as breezes are expected to be northerly 5-20 knots, swells around 6 feet and windwaves 2-3 feet through early next week. There are no storms on the horizon. Always check the latest Marine Forecast and Bar Reports before you venture offshore.
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