CENTRAL COAST FISHING
Week of May 21st
In the Creel: Halibut were hot for last week’s first three-day opener of 2015. Limits and decent-sized slabs were boated. Bottom angling for rockfish continues to be exceptional, too. On the other hand, razor clam diggers are really bummed as a closure of the entire Oregon Coast (due to high levels of a shellfish toxin) coincides with a great minus tide series; mussels are closed along the Central Coast for the same reason. River fishermen can get back in action starting Saturday with the opening of the cutthroat trout season. And, the weather looks fairly benign for the holiday weekend. This week’s Fishing Rule: A treble hook triples the odds of catching a fish but quadruples the odds of getting the hook stuck in your thumb.
Salmon River: The river is closed to fishing until this Saturday, May 23rd, when it opens for cutthroat trout.
Siletz River/Bay: Steelhead fishing is slow but should continue to improve on a weekly basis. The winter steelhead run is over with only a few post-spawn fish remaining. The summer steelhead run is just getting started with initial signs indicating a decent early run compared to most years. 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 fishing until this Saturday, May 23rd, when it opens for cutthroat trout.
Alsea River/Bay: The river is closed to fishing until this Saturday, May 23rd, when it opens for cutthroat trout.
Central Coast Reservoirs and Lakes: Rainbow trout stocking in Big Creek and Olalla Reservoirs is underway this week, so angling should be great family fun. Check out the 2015 stocking schedule here.
Saltwater angling and shellfish harvesting…
Ocean Fishing, Bay Crabbing and Clamming:
* BOTTOM FISH Rockfish and lingcod catches were good again last week. Charters were limiting-out quickly. Fishermen out of Newport and Depoe Bay continue to report abundant squid, both visible in the water and in the stomachs of their rockfish, so hootchies have been a hot lure. 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 for all salmon except Coho is open along the Central Coast through October 31st. Success has been marginal, but a few Chinook are being caught. The Coho season, for fin-clipped silvers, will be June 27th through either August 9th or when the quota of 55,000 fish is met. The non-selective Coho season will run September 4th through either September 30th or when the quota of 12,500 fish is met. The bag limit for all seasons and all salmon is two fish per day, and minimum sizes for Chinook are 24 inches or larger, and steelhead 20 inches or larger.
* HALIBUT After a roaring start with great ‘but fishing last week, the next Central Coast Spring All Depth openers will be Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, May 28th-30th, June 11th-13th and June 25th-27th. The Central Coast Nearshore season opens July 1st. The Summer season opens August 7th-8th and then every other Friday and Saturday until the quota is met.
* CRAB One ocean crabber out of Newport reported full pots but almost all were females. Otherwise, ocean sport crabbing is good and bay crabbing continues to improve, with crabbers having decent catch rates in the Central Coast bays last week. You’ll have a better chance of landing some crab by learning good techniques; go here for help.
* RAZOR CLAMS All razor clam harvesting is closed along the entire Oregon Coast from the Columbia River to the California border due to elevated levels of domoic acid. This includes all beaches and all bays. The razor clam closure unfortunately comes coincidentally with the best minus tides so far this year. Click 2015 Tide Tables for the entire year’s tables.
* MUSSELS Recreational harvesting of mussels remains closed along the Central Coast from Cascade Head (north of Lincoln City) to the north jetty of the Rogue River (at Gold Beach) due to elevated levels of Paralytic Shellfish Toxin.
* BAY CLAMS Harvesting of bay clams is open from Tillamook Head to the California border (this does not include razor clams). See ODFW’s bay clam webpage for more information on where and how to dig, clam identification, etc., here.
NOTE: Commercial shellfish products remain safe for consumers. Samples show no biotoxins at this time.
Commercial Fishing: A new blight for salmon trollers has arrived. Several types of fishing-line-gunking jellyfish are coating leaders and lures, making it mandatory to reel up and brush-off the gear regularly. Not fun. This adds a confounding new twist to an already wearily slow fishery in local waters. Washington state waters have been the place to be, but without a salmon troll permit for that state, no go. One good thing about the low catch rate is that values have stayed high, and will until Alaska starts to ship other species of lower-cost salmon into the marketplace. Change is inevitable however and a month from now a whole new set of conditions is likely, due to the whims of wind and tide. Commercial salmon trolling has always been somewhat of a ‘crap shoot.’ So, many in the fleet are hoping for an early albacore (tuna) showing. Warmish seawater conditions may make that wish come true.
Fore-Cast: River and bay fishermen can expect partly to mostly cloudy skies and fairly light winds over the next week. Offshore, it looks like fair conditions for the holiday weekend with northerlies 5-15 knots, maybe gusting 20 once in a while, and seas 3-6 feet. No storms on the horizon. Always check the latest Marine Forecast and Bar Reports before you venture offshore.
Notices to Mariners… The Yaquina Bay Bridge southwestern light (Light List #9627) is currently obscured. Also, it’s National Safe Boating Week, so now’s the perfect time to check out your vessel and gear for the season ahead. Click here for more information.
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