CENTRAL COAST FISHING
Week of April 9th
In the Creel: With some of the rivers closed and winter steelhead slower than a snail on sandpaper, attention is mainly focused offshore where a few salmon are being caught and rockfish are beggin’ for a ride to the dock. Lings have been avoiding the hook this past week, but they’re finicky and may be back on the bite again before long. Crabbing has picked up a smidge, trout are jumpin’ in the reservoirs and some nice perch are coming in from the bays and beaches. Greenling have been hitting hard off the rocks and jetties. Don’t discount the ugly green-meated greenling, or ‘sea trout’. Many people who “don’t like fish” will gobble up a fresh, pan-fried greenling filet in a heartbeat. And, yes, the meat turns white during cooking.
Salmon River: The river is closed to fishing until May 23rd, when it opens for cutthroat trout.
Siletz River/Bay: Steelhead fishing is slow to fair. Fish are being caught in most sections depending on river conditions. This time of year tends to produce a good percent of native fish and/or post-spawn fish. Typical steelhead tactics apply such as side drifting, bobbers and jig/bait, or casting spoons or spinners.
Yaquina River/Bay: The river is closed to all fishing until May 23rd with the cutthroat trout season opener.
Alsea River/Bay: The winter steelhead fishery is slow and will remain so for the rest of the season. 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: The rainbow trout stocking program is in full swing and most water bodies have been stocked recently or will be again soon. Most areas will be stocked 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 There’s still a hot bite for rockfish off Newport and Depoe Bay with charters reporting early and easy limits. Lingcod catches, however, were down again last week. 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 salmon from Cape Falcon to Humbug Mt., including the Central Coast, now through April 30th. There hasn’t been much action yet, but a few fish are coming in. 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. Staff-recommended 2015 season dates are available here.
* PERCH Spring often finds saltwater perch species like pile perch moving into bays. Redtail and silver surfperch can be caught from ocean beaches. Get some tips on surf fishing here.
* GREENLING Anglers have been reporting nice catches of greenling, sometimes referred to as sea trout, off the rocky shores and jetties. These guys will bite just about anything, but take along lots of tackle ‘cause you’ll always lose a bunch in the rock crevices.
* CRAB Ocean and bay crabbing remains slow on the Central Coast, although it has picked up a bit this week with catch rates running at about two crabs per pot. 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 clams remain 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 The best bay clamming the past week has been south of the Central Coast down in the Charleston area. See ODFW’s bay clam webpage for more information on where and how to dig, clam identification, etc., here.
Commercial Fishing: The salmon troll season is well underway and the action has seemingly slowed, with the usual exception of a couple of heavy hitters or lucky dogs. Boats from Alaska to California are in this area but the best scores coastwide have been local. Change happens fast, and the fleet will likely fan out to get closer to home. Other states open next month, and as the Southeast Alaska troll King salmon season has ended, Oregon gets a bit of a head start and a shot at the highest price per pound of the year. Most of the action has been at the Rockpile, with nice hook-ups also reported last week a bit south of it. Closer along the beach produced some ‘shakers’ (fish under the 28 inch minimum size) and a couple of keeper Chinook at the whistle buoy. It’s early yet and it may be an interesting year.
Fore-Cast: It looks like both seas and breeze will be limiting factors this weekend for those who plan to head offshore for rockfish or salmon. Light winds are expected Thursday, but sou’westers blowing up to 20-25 knots are expected Friday and Saturday, with seas building to 10-11 feet and holding that way into Monday, maybe Tuesday. Westerly winds 15-20 knots are in the outlook Sunday and Monday as well. River and bay fishermen can expect a continued mixed weather pattern with some showery days balanced by sunny ones. Always check the latest Marine Forecast and Bar Reports before you venture offshore.
Notice to Mariners… OSU Newport Shelf Research Lighted Buoy has been set at 44-38-20.040N, 124-18-13.680W; it’s a yellow surface buoy, flashing a yellow light every 4 seconds.
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