CENTRAL COAST FISHING
Week of June 25th
In the Creel: There were enough halibut left in the quota that another all-depth opener has been sanctioned by ODFW for today through Saturday. After your limit of halibut is aboard, you can try for Coho, too, as the summer season for hatchery silvers kicks off on Saturday. Rockfish are still biting anything in sight although lings have been looking the other way. Crabbing continues to be excellent in the ocean and the bays. Mussel harvesting has been reopened along the Central Coast, but razor clams will remain off limits for the foreseeable future due to shellfish toxins. Cutthroat trout are being landed in the rivers, along with a few summer steelhead, and rainbow fishing remains good in the deeper, cooler water of the reservoirs. This week’s Fish Tale: A sinker is defined as either a weight to get your bait to the bottom, or the nickname of your boat.
Salmon River: Cutthroat trout are 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 picking 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 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 are having fair to good success. 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 open for the season and anglers should have good results in most of the larger tributaries and mainstem. Small spinners are typically a good bet 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. The water’s warm, so work the deeper spots and shady areas. 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.
Saltwater angling and shellfish harvesting…
Ocean Fishing, Bay Crabbing and Clamming:
* BOTTOM FISH Rockfish catches were good last week out of Newport and Depoe Bay with many anglers catching limits (blacks and canaries were especially hot), but lingcod haven’t been as cooperative lately. 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. Effort and the accompanying success rate so far this season have been dismal. The hatchery Coho season, for fin-clipped silvers, begins this Saturday, June 27th, and runs through either August 9th or when the quota of 55,000 fish is met. The daily bag limit is two salmon, and all Coho must have a healed adipose fin clip. 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, and minimum sizes for Chinook are 24 inches or larger, and steelhead 20 inches or larger.
* HALIBUT In the Central Coast Subarea (Cape Falcon to Humbug Mt.) including the Central Coast, the all-depth halibut fishery will be open again today through Saturday, June 25th-27th. An announcement will be made on July 2nd to let you know if there is sufficient quota remaining for any ‘back-up’ all-depth openers. 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 and bay sport crabbing has been very good. One charter boat put 117 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 closure includes all beaches and bays. Concentrations of domoic acid are reaching levels not seen since 1998, and ODFW shellfish biologists see no possibility that razor clamming will re-open before the annual conservation closure on Clatsop beaches up north begins on July 15th.
* MUSSELS The recreational harvest of mussels has reopened from Tillamook Head to the California border.
* BAY CLAMS Harvesting of bay clams is open from Tillamook Head to the California border (this does not include razor clams). The next minus tide series begins this Monday, June 29th, and continues in the mornings through Tuesday, July 7th, with the lowest, -1.9’, on July 3rd and 4th. These tides will be great opportunities to dig gapers, cockles, and butter clams. 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. The recent closure of the Southern Washington Coast to recreational and commercial crab harvest due to elevated domoic acid levels has prompted questions about the safety of crab caught in Oregon. The Oregon Department of Agriculture recently tested Dungeness crab samples from the ocean and estuaries in Oregon and found biotoxin levels below the human health concern threshold. However, consumption of crab viscera (‘butter’) is not recommended. Commercial shellfish products remain safe for consumers; samples show no biotoxins at this time.
Commercial Fishing: Things have picked up a bit at the Rockpile lately with fish a bit higher in the water column. The 200’ zone produced some kings as did the deeper drags, or tacks. The best bite was at Tower Rock, just north of Cape Blanco and Port Orford. As usual, not everyone scored, but that’s fishin’. Not many locals were willing to make the 25-hour run to get there, but some did. Several boats have been gearing up for albacore, as that fishery is just around the corner now that summer is here.
Fore-Cast: River and bay fishermen can expect partly to mostly sunny days, patchy morning fog and temps of 65-70F close to the coast but extremely hot inland; the bays will be choppy late in the day. Offshore, northwest winds will be an issue in the afternoons and evenings, rising by Friday to 20-25 knots gusting 30 with windwaves 5-6 feet, and then fading a little to 10-20 knots from Saturday through Monday. 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