CENTRAL COAST FISHING
Week of June 18th
In the Creel: Razor clamming and mussel harvesting remain closed in our area. Toxin closures have been expanded along other sections of the West Coast (see Shellfish Safety Notes below) including Washington state which has halted all Dungeness crabbing. Offshore, salmon fishing is still slow and this is an off-week for halibut angling. Rockfish are plentiful and limits have been easy when ocean conditions allow trips out. In the rivers, cutthroat trout are running and some nice summer steelhead have been caught in the Siletz. The reservoirs have an ample supply of rainbows for family fishing fun. And, good bay clamming tides last through Sunday so, except for razors and mussels, it’s diggin’ time. This week’s Fish Tale: you are indeed a fisherman if you have a photo on your desk at work of your fifty-pound halibut instead of your family.
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 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: Big Creek and Olalla Reservoirs still have lots of rainbows available even though the stocking program is over for the summer. Fishing for the various warm water species in the coastal lakes can be productive during this time of year as water temperatures start to rise and fish begin spawning. Anglers will start finding more fish up in the shallows. And, 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 were good again last week when ocean conditions allowed. Rockfish were decent-sized, and lings seemed to be back on the bite. 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 very slow. The Coho season, for fin-clipped silvers, will begin June 27th and run 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 reached. The bag limit for all seasons and all salmon is two fish per day. Minimum legal sizes for Chinook are 24 inches or larger, and steelhead 20 inches or larger.
* HALIBUT It looks like the next Central Coast Spring All Depth halibut season opener will take place June 25th-27th (unless ODFW decides the catch so far is too close to the quota; we’ll let you know). Halibut angling has been excellent this year with lotsa limits and large fish, some up to 70 pounds. 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 great and bay crabbing has been very good, too. One charter boat put over 100 Dungies in the totes on a single trip this past 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 The recreational harvest of mussels is closed from the Columbia River to the north jetty of the Rogue River near Gold Beach due to elevated levels of Paralytic Shellfish Toxin. This mussel closure includes all beaches, jetties, rocks and bays.
* BAY CLAMS Harvesting of bay clams is open from Tillamook Head to the California border (this does not include razor clams and mussels). The current minus tide series continues through this Sunday, June 21st. The remaining lows will provide good opportunities to dig gapers, cockles, and butter clams. Click 2015 Tide Tables for the entire year’s tables. See ODFW’s bay clam webpage for more information on where and how to dig, clam identification, etc., here.
SHELLFISH SAFETY NOTES: Scallops are not affected by the current closures when only the adductor muscle is eaten. The consumption of whole recreationally-caught scallops is not recommended. Crabs are not affected by the Oregon shellfish closures, but it is recommended that you do not eat the ‘butter’ (or viscera). Commercial shellfish products remain safe for consumers. Samples show no biotoxins at this time.
A massive toxic algal bloom is the cause of the shellfish harvesting closures along the West Coast. NOAA Fisheries says it appears to be the largest bloom ever seen in terms of severity and magnitude. When the ocean is warm and not ‘mixing,’ like it is right now, algae grow and produce a toxin. Plankton accumulates this toxin, which can then poison other animals up the food chain, from finfish and shellfish to birds and sea lions. California officials have warned against eating mussels, clams, anchovies and sardines, or the internal organs of commercially or recreationally caught crab taken from Monterey and Santa Cruz counties. All coastal Washington beaches have been closed to razor clamming, and Washington has now also closed its entire coast to Dungeness crab harvesting.
Commercial Fishing: It turns out that the only verified contact with albacore tuna by the charter fleet was off Westport, Washington, of all places, just before this recent northwest wind episode. One tuna fisherman chuckled as he told us that at this time of year, wild rumors percolate on the docks and in the pubs. Most of the fleet hopes that someone will charge out and maybe find a sign of fish. Otherwise, salmon trollers are icing down and fueling up for the next go-round. Herring bait fishermen are doing well at times and report cooler sea temps in the high 40’s at high tides, which may be a good sign for salmon fishermen! The market is really hungry for some fresh local Chinook.
Fore-Cast: River and bay fishermen can expect partly to mostly sunny skies after morning low clouds and fog over the coming week; the bays could be choppy in the afternoons during the daily sea breezes. Offshore has settled down a little and is predicted to stay that way for the week. There will be rounds of 20-25 knot nor’westers and lumpy windwaves at times, but overall it looks better than during the past week. 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