CENTRAL COAST FISHING
Week of March 26th
In the Creel: Chinook salmon fishing is open offshore, but most boats are still targeting rockfish and lingcod with the bite cranked up to high. Winter steelhead has slowed to a crawl but a few fish are still being caught in the Salmon River where wilds are legal through Tuesday. How about trout? You and the kids can fill your creel during ODFW’s Family Fishing Day at Devils Lake this Saturday, March 28th. No joy for razor clammers as it’ll be nearly a month’s wait before the next minus tides; but the biotoxin closure line for the King of Clams has been moved south from Heceta Head to Florence, so more beaches will be open. Bay clamming remains productive for those who don’t mind mucking around in the mud. Meanwhile, the herring run is over in Yaquina Bay and crabbing in all Central Coast bays is Slow with a capital S. Remember, there’s a fine line between fishing and sitting in a boat looking like an idiot.
Salmon River: Winter steelhead fishing is fair and the river should fish well this week through most of the mainstem. The river is open to harvest of wild winter steelhead through this Tuesday, March 31st. Anglers are advised to read the 2015 regulations as there are harvest restrictions and new deadlines in effect. For instance, 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 comes in.
Siletz River/Bay: Steelhead fishing is slow to fair. Fish are being caught in most sections depending on river conditions. But, this time of year tends to produce a good percent of native fish and/or post-spawn fish, so keepers are infrequent. 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 typically very slow for the rest of the season. Typical steelhead fishing tactics apply. Meanwhile, herring in Yaquina Bay appear to be done spawning for the season.
Alsea River/Bay: The winter steelhead fishery is slowing down for the season but fair numbers of fish can still be found in the upper river, especially after a rain event. Native fish tend to be prevalent this time of year. Casting lures, bobbers and jig/bait or drifting beads along the bottom can be effective techniques.
Central Coast Reservoirs and Lakes: These water bodies are well-stocked with rainbows right now. And, they’ll be replanted multiple times until early June. Be sure to check out the 2015 stocking schedule here. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is hosting a Family Fishing Day this Saturday, March 28th, at Devils Lake in Lincoln City. Fun and fruitful fishin’ goes from 9:00am to 2:00pm at Regatta Park. ODFW will stock the lake with 6,500 rainbow trout ahead of time, including 2,000 fish that’ll be released in a large net pen reserved for the youngins. Staff and volunteers will hand out equipment, and be available to teach youngsters how to bait, cast, and reel-in their prize catches. Adults can get tips on basic rigging, fish identification and casting.
Saltwater angling and shellfish harvesting…
Ocean Fishing, Bay Crabbing and Clamming:
* BOTTOM FISH Rockfish are biting fast and furious off of Newport and Depoe Bay these days, and lingcod catches have been fair to good. REMINDERS: Cabezon is closed through June 30th, and the ocean is open to bottom fishing at all depths until this Tuesday, March 31st, midnight. New for 2015: China, copper, and quillback rockfish (in addition to yelloweye rockfish) may not be retained. New for 2015: The marine fish daily bag limit is seven fish of which no more than three can be blue rockfish and no more than one can be a canary rockfish. Anglers are urged to avoid canary rockfish entirely if possible (retaining only one if it is injured and caught incidentally while targeting other species such as black rockfish) and to use a descending device for any that are released. Although canary rockfish numbers are increasing, the population is not fully recovered. There are separate daily limits for lingcod (2) and flatfish other than Pacific halibut (25). Several handouts – including ‘What Can I Keep, and How Many?’ plus species identification tips – are available on 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 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. Staff-recommended 2015 season dates are available here.
* CRAB Crabbing for Dungeness in the bays is really slow right now. 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 is closed from the Oregon/California border north to the south jetty of the Siuslaw River in Florence due to elevated levels of domoic acid. The closure includes razor clams on all beaches, rocks, jetties, and at the entrance to bays in this section of the Oregon Coast. Opportunities to collect razor clams are still available along Central Coast beaches north of Florence. However, the next minus tide series doesn’t begin until April 17th, with the lowest a -1.6’ on the 20th. Click 2015 Tide Tables for the entire year’s tables.
* MUSSELS/SCALLOPS Mussels are open along the entire coast. Due to potential biotoxins, consuming whole scallops is not recommended. But, a scallop’s adductor muscle does not accumulate biotoxins and may be safe for consumption. Scallops are not being sampled for biotoxins at this time.
* 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. A few boats are still working Dungeness crab pots, but results are hit and miss.
Fore-Cast: Bay and river fishermen will have an unsettled weather-week with a mix of sunshine, clouds, some showers and variable breezes. You’ll need the full fishin’ wardrobe. Offshore, fairly benign weather is in store Thursday as the breeze veers to S 5-10 knots occasionally gusting 15 and swells run about 8 feet at 12 seconds. Southerlies rise to 10-15 knots gusting 20 on Friday with seas 8 feet and windwaves building to 3 feet in the afternoon. Outlook is for SW winds 15-20 knots gusting 25 Friday night, seas remaining around 8 feet. A W to SW breeze 5-15 knots is then expected Saturday through Monday with swells rising to 10 feet, possibly into the teens by Tuesday. 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