CENTRAL COAST FISHING
Week of April 16th
In the Creel: Weather may be the limiting factor for ocean salmon and rockfish over the next few days. But when/if you can get across the bar, most bottom fish are quick limits, though lingcod can’t find a hook with both fins right now. Razor clamming may finally be in the cards as a series of minus tides begins this weekend; bay clamming should also be really good. There’s been an uptick in Dungeness crab pulls, though harvests remain seasonally slow. The rivers are a low priority right now with some closed to all fishing and others showing only weak results for steelies. Cutthroat trout season opens next month and that might be your best shot in the near-term if you like working the rivers. Fishing Rule #1: The least experienced fisherman always catches the biggest fish.
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 Anglers are continuing to land rockfish limits off Newport and Depoe Bay when weather allows. Conversely, Central Coast fishermen reported low lingcod catch rates last week, and those that were boated had stomachs full of tiny octopuses. 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. Still not much action, but it is expected to improve before the end of the month. What catches have come in were from out near the Rockpile. 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 are continuing to report nice catches of greenling, sometimes referred to as sea trout, off the rocky shores and jetties.
* 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 keepers per pot. You’ll 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. The next minus tide series begins Friday, April 17th, with the lowest a -1.6’ on the 20th. Click 2015 Tide Tables for the entire year’s tables. NOTE: Make sure you stay legal with razors. ODFW staff has observed diggers retaining more than a daily limit when the harvesting is good. You’re reminded to keep accurate count of the clams you’ve retained and that you are required to keep the first 15 clams dug regardless of size or condition.
* 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 Starting this weekend, several days of great low tides will provide many opportunities to dig gaper clams, cockles and butter clams. Yaquina Bay should be excellent for digging during this tide series. Recent stock assessments have revealed abundant populations and that current harvest levels are sustainable. See ODFW’s bay clam webpage for more information on where and how to dig, clam identification, etc., here.
Commercial Fishing: While the salmon troll fishery continues, some of the fleet is now geared-up for shrimp. Chatter indicates that the shrimping is good and that an acceptable price has been negotiated.
Fore-Cast: River and bay fishermen/crabbers are in for a treat as mostly sunny and dry weather is predicted for the next week. There could be some breezy afternoons with chop on the bays, however, because we’ll be in a summer-like pattern of northwest winds from noon to midnight. Offshore, no joy, as N winds are predicted to rise by Thursday afternoon to 15-20 knots gusting 25 along with mixed swells 8 feet, building to 12 feet Thursday night. Look for N winds on Friday, 10-15 knots gusting 20, and seas around 10 feet. The weekend looks pretty lumpy with northerlies 20-25 knots and swells 7-8 feet with 4-6 foot windwaves. A larger swell train may arrive by Tuesday and another weather system could affect local waters by then, too. Always check the latest Marine Forecast and Bar Reports before you venture offshore.
Notices to Mariners…
* Effective immediately, the Coast Guard will no longer print hardcopy Light Lists. Based on emerging technology and the ability to update Light Lists on a weekly basis, the cost and time for printing them on an annual basis has reached obsolescence.
* OSU has discontinued its Nye Beach Research Lighted Buoy.
* OSU has set its Waldport Offshore Research Lighted Buoy at 44-22-00.120N, 124-56-39.480W, painted yellow, 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