CENTRAL COAST FISHING
Week of July 16th
In the Creel: The albacore are here! Anglers on the hunt for tuna can now find them much closer at just 10-30 miles out; catch rates are up to a half dozen per rod. Nearer to shore, the rockfish bite and ocean crabbing have both slowed down considerably. Hatchery Coho fishing offshore has been decent; however, like last year, lots of natives are going back over the side. Chinook are still lurking deep; so, chief, you’re gonna need a bigger cannonball. Low and warm river flows are keeping summer steelhead and cutthroat trout somewhat elusive; you’ll have to fish the cooler, deeper spots. Rainbow trout are available in our local reservoirs, though they, too, are hiding in the shade. This week’s Fish Tale: The biggest fish ever caught was… the one that got away.
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 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 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 fish species is fair to good during the summer months. There are numerous lakes in the Florence area that can provide good opportunities for boat and bank access.
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 is open with a one-fish sub-bag limit. Overall, rockfish catches were fairly slow but steady last week, with anglers catching limits but having to work for them. Lingcod catches were even slower. 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 open in ocean waters along the entire Oregon Coast. Catches are picking up with Newport and Depoe Bay charters netting some limits and the average for all recreational fishermen is at one fish per rod. Ocean recreational fishing is open for Chinook salmon along the entire Oregon coast, too. Kings are still slow and deep but a few 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 The summer all-depth fishery will open again on August 7th with a quota of approximately 45,000 pounds. Fishing for halibut in the Central Coast Subarea is still allowed inside the 40-fathom line seven days a week until the quota is reached or October 31st. Good-sized ‘buts (32-40”) have been coming in slowly but steadily.
* TUNA Lots of albacore are out there and they’re getting much closer, 20-30 miles offshore on average albeit some reports have them in as near as 10-15 miles! It’d be worth a trip out if ocean conditions cooperate. Sizes have been mostly small to medium with a half-dozen or so per fisherman. 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 was noticeably slower last while bay crabbing is still quite good. However, throw-backs are up to half 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 your 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 have reached levels not seen since the 1998 outbreak.
* MUSSELS The recreational collection 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). NOTE: The Oregon Health Authority has issued an advisory for soft-shell clams along the entire Oregon Coast due to naturally-occurring arsenic concentrations in their siphon skins. Complete details are available here.
Good minus tides for digging gapers, cockles, and butter clams run through this Sunday, July 19th. The next minus tide series is July 28th until August 4th; the lowest will be -1.9’ on August 1st. 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: The tuna run has begun! And word from the trenches is: “Good, now the price of our high quality local Chinook will improve” as more trollers head to the tuna grounds and the salmon demand can increase because of fewer fish in the marketplace. Those hunting salmon on decades-old migration routes found fish south of the Rockpile and at the High Spot, below and a little west of that underwater range of hills. Farther out and more miles away was another bite at the south end of Heceta Banks. Now the northerlies blow and the fleet will be dealt a new hand. The hunt continues…
Fore-Cast: Mostly sunny days are in store for fishermen in all areas along the Central Coast. Afternoon/evening sea breezes 15-25 knots will stir-up a little chop on the bays and lotsa chop on the ocean. Right now it looks like mixed swells/windwaves could climb as high as 7-8 feet over the weekend. 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