CENTRAL COAST FISHING
Week of June 4th
In the Creel: Free Fishing Weekend in Oregon is this Saturday and Sunday, June 6th and 7th. With summerlike weather to boot, this could be the perfect weekend to take a friend or family member out fishing, crabbing or clamming. During this weekend, no fishing licenses or tags are required to fish, crab or clam anywhere in Oregon. (For info on local free fishing events, see Central Coast Reservoirs and Lakes below.) Cutthroat trout fishing is beginning to pick up in the rivers, and some summer steelhead are now showing in the Siletz. Rockfish continue to be the hot bite offshore with salmon still slow and halibut closed until next week. Dropping a few pots is worth doing these days as crab catch rates have really improved. Even though we’re in the midst of a terrific minus tide series, razor clamming remains closed along the entire Oregon Coast due to a shellfish toxin; mussels are also closed along the Central Coast for the same reason. Bay clamming should be quite good, though, and except for razors, other clams are safe to harvest. This week’s Fish Tale: A skunked fisherman is the one who arrives at the boat ramp several hours after his buddies have gone home so there are no witnesses.
Salmon River: Cutthroat trout are now open to harvest. Typically good fishing can be had during the early part of the season. Using small lures like spinners, spoons or various flies can be productive.
Siletz River/Bay: Summer steelhead fishing is slowly starting to pick up. New fish will continually be moving into the river over the next few months with the peak numbers typically in July. River flows are much lower than normal for this time of year so think small and subtle presentations. Typical steelhead tactics apply such as bobbers and jig/bait, or casting spoons or spinners. Cutthroat trout are now also open to harvest and can be found throughout the mainstem river and many large tributaries.
Yaquina River/Bay: The cutthroat trout season is open and anglers can expect to have fair to good fishing. The mainstem Yaquina and Big Elk Creek are good places to try casting small spinners or spoons as well as bait fishing near the head of tide.
Alsea River/Bay: The cutthroat trout season is now open for the season and anglers should have fair to good results in most of the larger tributaries and mainstem. Small spinners are typically productive as well as small spoons or fly fishing with nymphs or streamers.
Central Coast Reservoirs and Lakes: Kids’ Free Fishing Day will take place from 8:00am until noon this Saturday, June 6th, at the Salmon River Fish Hatchery in Otis and the Olalla Reservoir near Toledo. Sponsored by ODFW and the Lincoln City Recreation Department, the annual event is a fun day for youngsters and adults alike. Addition details are available here.
NOTE: ODFW is set to unveil easier, simplified trout and warmwater fishing regulations. Click here for more information.
Saltwater angling and shellfish harvesting…
Ocean Fishing, Bay Crabbing and Clamming:
* BOTTOM FISH Rockfish and lingcod catches remained very good again last week, with most anglers limiting out. 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 working well. 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 rates so far this season have been as slow as molasses with the fish really deep, up to 400’ (you’re gonna have to buy more line). A commercial fisherman suggests: “What I would try if sportfishing is motor-mooching with 16 or more ounces of banana weight and a herring. The current alone would help cover a lot of ground in those deeper spots.” 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 The Central Coast Spring All Depth halibut season’s next opener is June 11th-13th and if there’s quota left, one more time on June 25th-27th. Halibut fishing has been excellent with lotsa limits and some nice fish in the 70-pound range. 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 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.
* 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). The month of June holds two of the best low tide series of the year and will provide many opportunities to dig gaper clams, cockles, and butter clams; Yaquina Bay is not affected by the shellfish safety closures, except razors. June 6th and 7th are also free shellfishing days so bay clams can be harvested without a shellfish license (all other regulations, such as bag limits, apply). See ODFW’s bay clam webpage for more information on where and how to dig, clam identification, etc., here. The current minus tide series runs through Monday, June 8th, with the lowest being -1.6’ today and tomorrow, June 4th and 5th. Click 2015 Tide Tables for the entire year’s tables.
NOTE: Commercial shellfish products remain safe for consumers. Samples show no biotoxins at this time.
Commercial Fishing: The waters off Garibaldi in the 400’ range produced fair catches of Chinook over the past week. One local found some salmon in the 500’ zone outside the Rockpile off Newport flying the gear just above the numerous rockfish in that area. Later, that fizzled, and as far up as the 45th parallel it was back to a slow go. Catches in the area above Cape Falcon were very good for a lucky few who didn’t snag their gear on lost submerged crab pots. Could be that the warm water ‘blob’ is keeping the fish deeper where temps are cooler. With openers in other zones and states, crab prices have slumped, but usually climb as the season nears the end in mid-August.
Fore-Cast: River and bay fishermen can expect sunshine after morning low clouds and fog over the coming week; the bays will be choppy in the afternoons during the daily sea breezes. Offshore is gonna be snotty for the next several days with afternoon/evening nor’westers 20-25 knots gusting 30 and steep windwaves 5-7 feet. There could be short windows of lighter winds in the morning, but you’ll probably want to be back inside the jaws by noon. 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