CENTRAL COAST FISHING
Week of July 9th
In the Creel: The all-depth halibut season is over until next month; we’re too near the quota for any back-up days in July. And there’s not much action so far in the nearshore halibut fishery, which is open. Hatchery Coho angling is improving in the ocean with averages nearing one silver per rod, but Chinook are still slow (and deep). If you just wanna catch a mess of fish, bottom fishing is producing limits of rockfish for just anybody that wets a line. Crabbing has been excellent, but there are high numbers of molting soft-shells in the mix. Razor clamming remains closed, but another decent round of minus tides begins this weekend for bay clammers. On the rivers, it’s basically still really slow for summer steelhead; cutthroat trout fishing, though, seems to be picking up nicely. This week’s Fish Tale: The best time to go fishing is always yesterday, you know, when they were really biting.
Salmon River: Cutthroat trout fishing is slow to fair with the early morning bite 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. Catch rates have been improving.
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 to good 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 inside the 30-fathom regulatory line through September 30th. Cabezon opened last week with a one fish sub-bag limit, and some are being caught. Overall, rockfish catches were good again last week, with many anglers catching limits, but lingcod are still off 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 Adipose fin-clipped Coho salmon season is now open in ocean waters along the entire Oregon Coast. Highest catch rates have been off the Columbia River. Catches along the rest of the coast are picking up with Newport and Depoe Bay charters netting an average of better than one silver per rod these days. Ocean recreational fishing is open for Chinook salmon along the entire Oregon coast, too. Kings are still slow and deep but some are being caught. 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 Successful fishing last weekend nearly exhausted the available quota, so the all-depth Pacific halibut fishery on the Central Coast is now closed until August 7th. “Last weekend there was just enough good weather and good fishing to push us to within 1,500 pounds of the spring all-depth quota,” according to Lynn Mattes, ODFW’s project leader for halibut. “That’s not enough to open any additional days in July, but that remaining quota will be added to the summer season that opens in August.” The spring all-depth Pacific halibut fishery for the Central Coast subarea was open for twelve days over four different periods, resulting in the harvest of 109,163 pounds of Pacific halibut. The summer all-depth fishery will open on August 7th with a quota of approximately 45,000 pounds. Fishing for halibut in the Central Coast Subarea is still allowed nearshore seven days per week inside the 40-fathom line until the quota is reached or October 31st.
* TUNA Albacore have started to show up 30-50 miles offshore, so it might be worth a trip out during the lazy weather ahead this week. Sizes have been mostly small to medium. Tuna are typically 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 through the roof, and bay crabbing continues to get better. Note, however, that throw-backs are at about 1/2 the total these days due to soft-shell molting. Smaller crabs that have not yet molted (look for barnacles on the shell) are a superior 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 next minus tide series begins this Sunday, July 12th, and runs through Sunday, July 19th, with the lowest, -1.3’, on the 15th and 16th. These tides will be ideal 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: One troller managed to boat 70 kings in 4 days this week, which is a very ‘good sign’ in trollerese. The value has dropped, however, due to Alaska’s short but sweet influx into the marketplace. Cohos are showing up in increasing numbers. This early in the season the sizes are the predictable 4-5 pounders for now. More Chinook are available, too, from Depoe Bay to the north end of the Rockpile at a depth of about 300’.
Fore-Cast: It looks like fairly benign weather for the rivers, reservoirs and ocean during the week ahead. The normal summer sea breeze pattern has been disturbed and winds shouldn’t get much over 15-20 knots anywhere. Expect a little chop on the bays, and offshore seas about 4-5 feet. 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