CENTRAL COAST FISHING
Week of August 20th
In the Creel: There was enough quota remaining, so the summer all-depth halibut season will be open again tomorrow, August 21st, and Saturday, August 22nd. Coho salmon fishing is currently closed but the non-selective season is just around the corner; meanwhile, the Chinook bite remains slow. Rockfish are still a good bet and lingcod limits have been showing up at the dock. Crabbing is excellent, but no joy yet for razor clammers as the entire coast remains closed to digging them, and mussels are also closed along the Central Coast (the clam and mussel closures are due to shellfish toxins). The rivers continue to run low and warm but a few steelhead and cutthroat are being picked up by early birds each morning. This week’s Fish Tale: I fish, therefore I am… not here right now.
Northwest Oregon Streams: 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 unusually warm 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. 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: Rainbow trout fishing is likely to continue slow due to warm conditions. Concentrate on early morning hours when fish are likely to be the most active, and work the deeper holes. 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. Rockfish catches were decent again last week and the lingcod bite has been very good with limits and larger fish now being landed. Several handouts – including ‘What Can I Keep, and How Many?’ plus species identification tips – are available on the ODFW sport groundfish webpage here.
* SALMON All Coho fishing offshore is now closed until the start of the non-selective (hatchery and wild) season on September 4th which will run through either September 30th or when the quota of 12,500 fish is reached. Ocean recreational fishing for Chinook (which is still very slow) and all other salmon species except Coho is still open along the entire Oregon Coast. The bag limit for all seasons and all salmon on the Central Coast is two fish per day; minimum sizes for Chinook are 24 inches or larger, and steelhead 20 inches or larger.
* HALIBUT The summer all-depth halibut fishery reopens Friday, August 21st, and Saturday, August 22nd. Whether or not there are any additional openings this summer will depend on how much quota remains after Saturday. Meanwhile, 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. By the way, the largest halibut landed so far this year have been in the nearshore fishery.
* TUNA Recreational albacore catches have been good when ocean conditions allow. The tuna are at 30-40 miles out. Sizes have ranged up to 35 pounds with catch rates averaging about four per rod. 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 has been excellent with many boats pulling limits. Bay crabbing has also been good this past week. Fewer molting (soft-shell) Dungies are in the mix now so this is an excellent time to be droppin’ pots.
* 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.
* MUSSELS The recreational harvest of mussels is closed along the Central Coast from Cape Meares to Heceta Head for paralytic shellfish toxin, and from Cape Arago to the California border for elevated levels of domoic acid. This closure includes all beaches, rocks, jetties and bays.
* 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 minus tide series begins on Thursday, August 27th, and runs through Tuesday, September 1st, with the lowest, -1.3′, on the 29th and 30th. 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 warm water regime seems to have taken hold and changed the dynamics of this season’s salmon troll fishery. Deep waters are the trick. It adds a whole set of problems and logistics to get lures down to where the fish hold in the cooler part of the water column. Mostly it’s about more weight and more line. Troll speeds can slow as well. With the increase of water pressure in such depths, even prey species seem to move at a less frantic pace. A few of the bigger and tougher boats had good fishing outside (west) of the Heceta Banks towing 500 feet of wire to reach the salmon.
Fore-Cast: Fairly typical Summer weather is in store for fishermen during the week ahead. Sunshine, patchy fog and afternoon/evening sea breezes will be the rule. Offshore, some large swells, up to 9 feet, are expected today but should be subsiding over the weekend to 4-6 feet. Northerly winds 10-20 knots will be blowing at times, too, especially late in the days. 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