CENTRAL COAST FISHING
Week of March 19th
In the Creel: Chinook salmon fishing is now open offshore until the end of April; early indications are that the mighty kings are plentiful and hungry. Though Coho were hotter than a pepper sprout last season, this may be the year of the big slabs. Ocean bottom fishing remains strong, and winter steelhead has picked up a little in the rivers since the deluge of rain we got last weekend. Trout fishing is still very good in the reservoirs. Bay clamming is decent, but razors are mostly out of reach due to marginal minus tides. Crabbing’s still slow, but should get better once the freshwater content of the bays subsides. Spring begins Friday, March 20th, at 3:45pm; so, damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead, it’s fishin’ time!
Salmon River: Winter steelhead fishing is fair but should become good this week following last weekend’s heavy rain. The river is open to the 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 fair following the recent rain events though new fish should be available throughout most of the river as flows drop. This time of year tends to produce a good percentage of native fish. Bank fishing in the upper gorge area or floating the upper to middle reaches will produce the best results this week. Typical steelhead tactics apply such as side drifting, bobbers and jig/bait, or casting spoons or spinners.
Yaquina River/Bay: The winter steelhead fishery is slow in the Big Elk. The fishery is typically very slow for the rest of the season. 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 has picked up again following the recent heavy rainfall. The upper river will produce the best results this late in the season. 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 and Lakes: The rainbow trout stocking program is underway with the Central Coast reservoirs and lakes already well-stocked. They’ll be replanted multiple times until early June. Be sure to check out the 2015 stocking schedule here. Fishing for the various warm water fish species can be productive during this time of year. Anglers may need to target different areas of a lake (typically deeper) versus when fishing more shallow areas in the spring or summer.
Saltwater angling and shellfish harvesting…
Ocean Fishing, Bay Crabbing and Clamming:
* BOTTOM FISH Charters and private boats out of Depoe Bay and Newport are continuing to nail quick limits of rockfish and lingcod when weather allows. From ODFW, a new rule, effective March 11th – anglers may retain only one Canary rockfish as part of the 7-fish marine daily bag limit but are urged to avoid Canary rockfish (retaining one if caught incidentally) and to recompress any that are released. Be aware, too, of the new regulations for blue, copper, quillback and China rockfish. Check out the ODFW sport groundfish webpage here.
* SALMON Ocean recreational fishing is open for Chinook salmon from Cape Falcon to Humbug Mt., including the Central Coast, now through April 30th. This season is open for all salmon except Coho, with a bag limit of two salmon per day, and minimum sizes for Chinook at 24 inches or larger, and steelhead at 20 inches or larger. Anglers are restricted to no more than two single point barbless hooks when fishing for salmon, and when fishing for any other species if a salmon is on board the vessel.
* HALIBUT Closed. The staff-recommended 2015 season dates are available here.
* CRAB During the winter months and early spring, crabbing for Dungeness in the bays can be really slow. But, even in this lean part of the year, you have a better chance of landing some crab by learning better techniques; go here for help.
* RAZOR CLAMS Razor clamming remains 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 current minus tide series is underway through March 24th, with the lowest only -0.7’ on the 22nd and 23rd. 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 See ODFW’s bay clam webpage for more information on where and how to dig, clam identification, etc., here.
Commercial Fishing: The fleet is gearing up for the salmon troll season which is set to begin on April 1st. Reports are already coming in that, while Coho was the hot bite last year, Chinook may be the money-maker this season. Stay tuned.
Fore-Cast: Conditions offshore will be deteriorating over the next few days as a series of storms ploughs into local waters. Generally, you can expect southerlies 20-25 knots gusting 30-35 by Friday, and continuing Saturday and Sunday; combined seas 10-15 feet. Look for sou’westers down to 15-20 knots and subsiding seas on Monday but possibly increasing again as the week progresses with more fronts coming our way. Bay and river fishermen will find rainy days alternating with showers and sunshine through the week ahead. Always check the latest Marine Forecast and Bar Reports before you venture offshore.
Notice to Mariners… NOAA Environmental Lighted Buoy 46050, Stonewall Bank, went adrift and was recovered up in Washington this week. It is currently offline. However, this event is a blessing in disguise because the critical (for the Central Coast) buoy’s wind gauge has been out of commission all winter, and when it’s reset in position, that’ll be fixed.
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