CENTRAL COAST FISHING
Week of July 23rd
In the Creel: Some Northwest Oregon streams have been closed to fishing for parts of each day (see ODFW Notice below) to help native fish survive the unusually high water temperatures and extremely low water conditions. Meanwhile, the real action is offshore, anyway. The tuna run is on and anglers are bringing in tons of ’em, hooking some quite close to shore. Coho fishing has improved in the ocean, while Chinook remain somewhat elusive out there. Rockfish are back to jumpin’ in the boat and a few folks have picked up a nice halibut during bottomfishing trips. Razor clamming remains close coastwide; bay clammers will have to wait until next week for some great minus tides. And, the rivers are still just so-so for summer steelhead and cutthroat trout due to low flows. This week’s Fish Tale: For the rich, there’s therapy; for the rest of us, there’s fishing!
SPECIAL ODFW NOTICE: Until further notice, all waterbodies defined as ‘streams’ in the 2015 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations will be closed to angling for trout, salmon, steelhead, and sturgeon from 2:00pm to one hour before sunrise, daily. All Northwest Zone tidewater areas (tidewater is defined as ‘stream or estuary waters affected by the daily ebb and flow of tides) will remain open for angling for these species during normal hours under 2015 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations. Angling for warmwater gamefish and other fish, as defined in the regulations, remains open under normal rules.
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.
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. Rockfish catches have picked up again with many anglers nailing quick limits. Lingcod are still just fair on the bite, but the ones being landed are big. 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 improving with Newport and Depoe Bay charters netting some limits and the average for all recreational fishermen is a bit over one fish per rod. These silvers are fattening up now, too, so larger fish are in the mix. 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 Some really nice-sized ‘buts have been caught this week by anglers on bottomfishing (rockfish) trips fairly near shore. Ya never know. Fishing for halibut in the Central Coast Subarea is allowed inside the 40-fathom line seven days a week until the quota is reached or October 31st. The summer all-depth halibut fishery opens again on August 7th with a quota of approximately 45,000 pounds.
* TUNA The albacore are close in, 20-30 miles on average, but some are being picked up as near as 10-15 miles! It’d be worth a trip out if ocean conditions cooperate. Catch rates are running about 6 fish per angler. 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 about average for this time of year while bay crabbing is quite good. However, throw-backs are up to half the total 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 remains 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 the Columbia River to Cape Arago (south of Coos Bay) but closed from there to the California border due to high levels of domoic acid.
* BAY CLAMS Harvesting of bay clams is open along the entire Oregon Coast (if not affected by toxin closures – call 800-448-2474 for the latest updated information). The next really good minus tide series for digging gapers, cockles, and butter clams 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 salmon report is about the same this week with a strong catch of good-sized Kings at or near Heceta Banks. The guys had to earn them, though, as the seas were rough with winds of 15-20 knots. Albacore are also biting as close in as 13 miles! The far side of Stonewall Bank was good for some sports fishermen over the past week. The weather-buoy chain attracts baitfish and their predators follow, so that’d be a great place to get some gear in the water.
Fore-Cast: Mixed skies and variable winds are in the cards for fishermen during the next week. The rivers are still extremely low and there’s no serious rain in sight (there could be a few showers this weekend but they won’t be enough to help much if at all). Offshore fishermen can expect some days with strong nor’westers and choppy seas alternating with lighter winds and rounded swells. Patchy fog may also be an annoying factor, so keep a lookout on the bow and your radar on. Always check the latest Marine Forecast and Bar Reports before you venture offshore.
Notice to Mariners… The dredge m/v Yaquina is scheduled to be working in Yaquina Bay and River now through Tuesday, July 28th; the crew monitors VHF Channels 13 and 16.
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