CENTRAL COAST FISHING
Week of August 27th
In the Creel: With the all-depth halibut season closed this week and offshore Coho fishing closed until Tuesday, rockfish will be your best bet in the meantime, if you can get out. A storm is brewing for this weekend, so you’ll probably be stuck in port, anyway. Tuna fishing has been good, but the schools are moving in and out; as close as 25 miles and as far away as 40 miles. Crabbing remains excellent with 6-12 keeper Dungies per pot puller. Other shellfish opportunities vary from the ongoing razor clam closure, to the reopening of mussel harvesting, to a minus tide series starting today for bay clam diggers. Still no joy for river fishermen as water levels are low and temperatures unusually warm. This week’s Fish Tale: The rockfish were bitin’ so good we had to hide belowdecks to bait our hooks.
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, but we’re now ast the peak. 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 fair to good again last week and the lingcod bite has been spotty. 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 closed until the start of the non-selective (hatchery and wild) season next Tuesday, September 4th; it’ll run through either September 30th or when the quota of 12,500 fish is reached. Ocean recreational fishing for Chinook (which has been a bust this year) 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 is currently closed. But jigging for ‘but 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. An announcement will be made shortly with an update on the status of the nearshore and all-depth quotas and fisheries.
* TUNA Recreational albacore catches remain decent when ocean conditions allow. The tuna are 20-40 miles out. Sizes have ranged up to 25-30 pounds with catch rates averaging about 2-3 fish 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 is still excellent with many boats pulling limits. Bay crabbing was also 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 has been reopened along the entire Oregon Coast.
* 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). Gaper clams, butter clams and cockles are open and not affected by the razor clam safety closure. The next minus tide series begins today, 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: There are still a few salmon trollers about, having varying degrees of success. The newest twist is that the warm water ‘bubble’ off the Central Coast that has provided great albacore fishing has moved farther offshore. Old-timers say that’s normal for this time of year and it’ll move back-in with the southerlies headed our way. Meanwhile, the tuna show has moved north to Washington seas. Change seems to be the only constant with fishing, sport or commercial.
Fore-Cast: Change is also on the weather horizon after today. By tomorrow, Friday, we should start seeing the effects of a low pressure system bearing cloudy skies, rain and wind. Showers may continue well into next week. So, while bay and river fishermen will just need raingear from time to time, offshore anglers will face an autumn-like sou’wester expected on Saturday with winds 25-35 knots gusting gale force and 10 foot windwaves, then slightly lighter conditions on Sunday. Things look like they’ll settle down somewhat beginning Monday. Always check the latest Marine Forecast and Bar Reports before you venture offshore.
Notices to Mariners… * The positions of the Depoe Bay range lights have been altered on Chart 18561. Change: Depoe Bay Entrance Range Front Light from 44-48-33.480N, 124-03-42.809W to 44-48-33.487N, 124-03-42.816W; Depoe Bay Entrance Range Rear Light from 44-48-33.511N, 124-03-41.164W to 44-48-33.505N, 124-03-42.170W. * Oregon State University will deploy a research buoy from September 3rd through September 12th at approximate position 44-29-30.000N, 124-25-10.000W, about 16 nautical miles west of Seal Rock. Dates are tentative but the deployment will end during the month of September 2015. The buoy is yellow, 5 feet in diameter, and will display a yellow flashing light with a Fl Y 4s flash characteristic. Mariners are requested to provide 500 yards clearance from the buoy due to its sensitive equipment. * Also, the dredge m/v Yaquina is scheduled to be working in the Yaquina Bay entrance and harbor from today, August 27th, through next Wednesday, September 2nd. The dredge 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