CENTRAL COAST FISHING
Week of July 2nd
In the Creel: Hatchery Coho season is open and the Chinooks have moved up in the water column; might be some salmon on your plate this holiday weekend. For anglers willing to travel well offshore, the season’s first tuna are starting to show up and some have already been landed. The nearshore halibut season is also open now. Meanwhile, the rivers are still only fair for cutthroat trout and summer steelhead as water levels are low and temperatures warmer than normal. Razor clammers have to pass up another terrific set of minus tides this week because of continued shellfish toxins, but mussels and bay clams are open along the Central Coast. Crabbing continues to be excellent in the ocean and good in the bays. This week’s Fish Tale: You can approximate a day of fishing on the ocean by simply standing in a cold shower, slugging down ipecac and tearing up money.
Salmon River: Cutthroat trout fishing is slow to fair with the early morning being the most productive. Using small lures like spinners, spoons or various flies can be productive.
Siletz River/Bay: Summer steelhead fishing is fair in the upper river. Low flows and warming river temperatures are making new fish race up into the cooler holding waters of the gorge area. New fish will continually be moving into the river through the summer with peak numbers typically this month. 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 main stem river and many large tributaries
Yaquina River/Bay: Cutthroat trout fishing is slow to fair. The best opportunities are coming in the early mornings when river temperatures are the coolest. River levels are very low and warm for this time of year. 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 fishery is fair in the mainstem and in some of the large tributaries. With the low and warm river conditions, the best chance of hooking one will be in the early morning when water temperatures are the coolest. 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 rainbows available even though the stocking program is over for the summer. The water’s warm, so work the deeper holes and shady spots. Fishing for the various warm water species in the coastal lakes can be productive during this time of year from boat or bank.
Saltwater angling and shellfish harvesting…
Ocean Fishing, Bay Crabbing and Clamming:
* BOTTOM FISH The ocean is open for bottom fishing only inside the 30-fathom regulatory line through September 30th. Cabezon opened yesterday, July 1st, with a one fish sub-bag limit. Rockfish catches were good again last week, with many anglers catching limits, but lingcod remain a bit obstinate. Several handouts – including ‘What Can I Keep, and How Many?’ plus species identification tips – are available on the ODFW sport groundfish webpage here.
* SALMON Adipose fin-clipped Coho salmon season is now open in ocean waters along the entire Oregon Coast. Best catches have been in the waters off the Columbia River. Catches along the rest of the coast so far have been only fair, but should improve with better weather this week. Ocean recreational fishing is open for Chinook salmon along the entire Oregon coast, too. Reports indicate the Kings are moving up to a reasonable depth of 100-150’, so they should be more available now. 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 For the Central Coast Subarea (Cape Falcon to Humbug Mt.) all-depth halibut fishery, an announcement will be made shortly to let you know if there is sufficient quota remaining for any ‘back-up’ openers. The Central Coast nearshore season opened yesterday and runs seven days a week until the quota is caught or October 31st. This fishery is open inside of a line approximating the 40-fathom depth contour. The Summer season opens August 7th-8th and then every other Friday and Saturday until the quota is met.
* TUNA Albacore have started to show up in the recreational fishery along the coast. Reports are generally of tuna being well offshore, but recent southwest winds may bring fish within more realistic distances for those anglers prepared for the distant-water challenges of albacore off Oregon. Albacore are typically in areas where sea surface temperatures (SST) are warmer than 58F and in areas where chlorophyll concentrations are close to 0.25 milligrams per cubic meter. Both of these conditions can change very quickly due to weather and upwelling.
* CRAB Ocean crabbing is great, and bay crabbing continues to improve. Note, though, that the larger ocean crabs off the Central Coast are molting now, and a soft shell indicates the meat will be watery. Smaller crabs that have not yet molted (look for barnacles on the shell) are a better option for the crab kettle. 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 July 15th.
* MUSSELS The recreational harvest of mussels is open from Tillamook Head to the California border.
* BAY CLAMS Harvesting of bay clams is also open from Tillamook Head to the California border (this does not include razor clams). The current minus tide series continues in the mornings through Tuesday, July 7th, with the lowest, -1.9’, on Friday and Saturday, July 3rd and 4th. These tides will be perfect for digging 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.
Commercial Fishing: Trollers had an uptick lately at Stonewall Bank, or in troller slang, the Rockpile. During the past few days of decent but foggy weather out there, Kings have shown up in the 120’ zone. Good-sized herring in the bellies is likely the reason. One small troller got a nice Chinook near South Reef on its maiden voyage. Otherwise, there have been some scores already on the tuna grounds. Things are looking up!
Fore-Cast: River and bay fishermen can expect partly to mostly sunny days, patchy morning fog and temps around 65F close to the coast but extremely warm inland; the bays will be choppy late in the day with the sea breezes. Offshore, northwest winds will be an issue, too, in the afternoons and evenings, 20-25 knots gusting 30 with windwaves 5-6 feet, and then slowly fading to 15-20 knots on Saturday and then to 10 knots Sunday and Monday. Swells will be 6-8 feet, highest on Saturday and Sunday. Always check the latest Marine Forecast and Bar Reports before you venture offshore.
Notices to Mariners… The US Coast Guard has issued a new Yaquina Bay and River channel depth tabulation. Click here for the downloadable/printable chart addition. Also, on Chart 18581, relocate the Yaquina Bay Entrance ‘Regulated Navigation Area Warning Sign’ to coordinates 44-37-29.058N, 124-03-26.568W. And, expect some restrictions to be in place on Alsea Bay for Independence Day fireworks, July 3rd 10:00pm until July 4th 1:00am; and on Yaquina Bay, July 4th from 10:00pm-10:30pm.
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