CENTRAL COAST FISHING
Week of March 5th
In the Creel: Lingcod are back on the bite offshore and rockfish remain a good bet these day, too, especially since ocean weather has been and will be cooperative. The bigwigs are hammering out this year’s salmon seasons, and we should know what they’ll be in another month or so. Need bait for those salmon? Herring are still running in Yaquina Bay, so stock up now. In the rivers, winter steelhead angling is slowing to a molasses crawl as water flows have dropped to low and clear because of the lack of rain. Dungeness crabbing remains typically slow for this time of year, but clamming (other than razors) has been quite good. And, with lots of stocked rainbows, trout fishing in the reservoirs continues to be fun and rewarding. Need bait? The Full Worm Moon should be bringing out a herd of fat and juicy nightcrawlers.
Salmon River: Winter steelhead fishing is slow to fair. River conditions are low and clear. You should focus on the deeper holding water. The river is open to the harvest of wild winter steelhead through March 31st.
Siletz River/Bay: Steelhead fishing is slow as river conditions continue to drop and clear. New fish will continue to move in but this time of year tends to produce a good percentage of native fish. Bank fishing in the upper gorge area or floating the lower reaches will produce the best results until the next good rain event. Typical steelhead tactics apply such as side drifting, bobbers and jig/bait, or casting spoons or spinners.
Yaquina River/Bay: Herring are in Yaquina Bay right now. Anglers jigging for the small silver fish, popular as bait, found a lot of them in the lower estuary and all the way up past Sawyer’s Landing this week. The bag limit is 25 pounds. Meanwhile, the winter steelhead fishery is slow in the Big Elk. River conditions are low and clear. The fishery is typically very slow for the rest of the season.
Alsea River/Bay: The winter steelhead fishery has slowed down as river conditions are low and clear. Look to fish the deeper holding water and use smaller more subtle presentations. This time of year more native fish tend to show up in the catch. Casting lures, bobbers and jig/bait or drifting beads along the bottom can be effective techniques.
Central Coast Reservoirs: The rainbow trout stocking program is underway with local reservoirs already well-stocked. They’ll be restocked multiple times until early June. Be sure to check out the 2015 stocking schedule here.
Saltwater angling and shellfish harvesting…
Ocean Fishing, Bay Crabbing and Clamming:
* BOTTOM FISH Fishing for lingcod was superb out of Newport and Depoe last weekend. Rockfish catches were also very good. Be aware of the new regulations for blue, copper, quillback and China rockfish. Check out the ODFW sport groundfish webpage here.
* SALMON Closed. The first of the two salmon season-setting meetings by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) will be held at the Hilton Vancouver Washington from March 6th-12th (301 W. Sixth Street, Vancouver, Washington). The meeting in Vancouver will establish a range of alternatives for further review. The final season-setting meeting will occur at the DoubleTree Hilton Sonoma in Rohnert Park, California from April 10th-16th (One DoubleTree Drive, Rohnert Park, California). For more information, see the ODFW Ocean Salmon webpage, here.
* HALIBUT Closed. The staff-recommended 2015 season dates are now available here.
* CRAB During the winter months, crabbing for Dungeness in the bays can be really slow, and it remains so. Learn how to catch more crab by going here.
* 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 tide series doesn’t begin until March 18th, and the lowest is 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 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: There is a likelihood that the local Chinook salmon season will start April 1st, as usual. Price per pound ended at $11.00 in Southeast Alaska, which is the only source for fresh Chinook until Oregon’s season begins. Many high-end eateries make up a robust market for these exceptional fish. Other states will open for trolling a month or more later than Oregon, giving our fisher-folk a bit of a leg up in the marketplace. Locally, buyers expect to pay $8.00 to $10.00 a pound. Oh, and a report of a salmon or two being caught (and released) in Central Coast waters by the rockfish sport fleet makes for an optimistic outlook for this year!
Fore-Cast: River and bay anglers will be fishing in tee-shirts or light jackets over the next week with lots of sunshine and above average temperatures. Getting offshore should be easy, too, with winds mostly northerly 5-10 knots and swells running just 4-5 feet through Monday at least. The weekend looks downright peachy for ocean fishing. Always check the latest Marine Forecast and Bar Reports before you venture offshore.
Notices to Mariners… None this week.
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