CENTRAL COAST FISHING
Week of September 24th
In the Creel: As fall begins, the rivers and bays move back into focus and are again a great place to fish with several species available – Chinook and Coho salmon, summer steelhead and cutthroat trout. Crabbing has been quite good in the bays recently, too. Decent clamming tides are coming this week, but they’re mainly during darkness; razor clamming remains closed coastwide due to toxins. Out on the ocean, tuna is pretty much over, nearshore halibut angling can still be productive, bottom fishing has slowed a bit but limits are still coming in, and salmon are around with catches rates at one salmon for every two fishermen. This week’s Fish Tale: Caught a halibut so big last weekend that sea level dropped three inches.
Salmon River: The fall Chinook fishery is off to a fair start by boat and bank anglers catching fish from the month of the bay through tidewater. Trolling or casting lures or baits during the incoming tide can be effective. Cutthroat trout fishing from upper tidewater through the lower river can be effective during the early mornings with sea-runs moving through this time of year.
Siletz River/Bay: The fall Chinook fishery has been producing some fair results in the lower bay up to the Chinook Bend area. Trolling or bobber fishing through the high slack seem to be the most productive. Cooler temperatures and some rain will coax fish closer to the head of tide this week and move more fish into the system. The wild Coho fishery is on now through November 30th with a daily bag limit of 1 adult Coho and a seasonal limit of 2 adult Coho (in aggregate with other areas with the same bag limit). The lower bay and tide water section typically produces the best results early in the season. Summer steelhead fishing is slow to fair in the upper river above Moonshine Park (which has reopened after the long fire danger closure). Cutthroat trout can be found in most sections with sea-runs found in the middle to lower river this time of year.
Yaquina River/Bay: Anglers are catching fall Chinook from the lower bay up to the Canyon Quarry boat launch area. Trolling herring or spinners during the incoming tide through the high slack is a good option. The wild Coho fishery is open now through November 30th with a daily bag limit of 1 adult Coho and a seasonal limit of 2 adult Coho (in aggregate with other areas with the same bag limit). The lower bay up to the airport boat ramp typically produces the best results early in the season. Cutthroat trout fishing is slow to fair from upper tidewater to the lower reaches on the mainstem. 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 fall Chinook fishery is producing fair results so far this season. Anglers are having the best action from the lower bay up to Taylor’s Landing during the incoming tide. The wild Coho fishery runs through October 15th with a daily bag limit of 1 adult Coho and seasonal limit of 2 adult Coho (in aggregate with other areas with the same bag limit). The lower bay typically produces the best results early in the season. Cutthroat trout fishing is fair in the lower mainstem below the confluence with Five Rivers. With the low and warm river conditions the best opportunities 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: 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 next Wednesday, September 30th. Rockfish angling was quite good again last week with lotsa limits, and some very nice lingcod were 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 Along the Central Coast last week, anglers retained 0.5 salmon apiece on average, with Coho outnumbering Chinook. Local waters are open for the non-selective Coho season. Two salmon a day – any species – and there is no fin-clip restriction on retained Coho. Gear and minimum length restrictions still apply, and keep in mind that this is a quota fishery, subject to in-season adjustments. Quota permitting, the fishery will be open through next Wednesday, September 30th.
* HALIBUT In the Central Coast Subarea (Cape Falcon to Humbug Mt), the summer all-depth halibut fishery is not open this week. Whether any additional days will be open depends on how much quota is left; an announcement is expected soon. Meanwhile, the nearshore halibut fishery remains open along the Central Coast seven days per week inside a line approximating the 40-fathom depth contour. However, the nearshore halibut fishery may be ending before long, too, so check with ODFW before setting out.
* TUNA Albacore angling is basically finished, though a few fish are still being scratched up off the Central Coast. Even if the tuna move relatively close in, we’re getting to the season where bad weather can come up quickly. Erring on the side of caution, most fishermen don’t want to get caught offshore.
* CRAB Ocean and bay crabbing remains strong with averages around 9 Dungies per pot-puller. And, with most of the crabs done molting, you’ll find abundant hard-shell keepers.
* 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 open along the entire Oregon Coast.
* BAY CLAMS Harvesting of bay clams is open along the entire Oregon Coast. Gapers, butter clams and cockles are not affected by the razor clam safety closure. The next set of minus tides begins this Friday, September 25th, but unfortunately the lowest water occurs either before sunrise or after sunset. 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: A few active salmon trollers found decent catches nearby this past week. At $7.50 a pound, a 15-fish score equals a week’s wages at big-mart and a heck of a lot more exciting – except for when it isn’t. The deep-water ling catch continues, providing a dribble of these tasty and sought-after fillets to the local markets and eateries. This fishery ends November 30th. The little known catch of black cod, or sablefish (butterfish in Japan), has been good for some boats in the know. These high-in-oil fish are a delicacy worldwide. Americans continue to acquire a taste for this Omega III-packed and locally caught species in the market place.
Fore-Cast: With the beginning of autumn, temperatures will be a little cooler and winds generally a little lighter for local fishermen. Bay and river anglers can expect mixed skies and occasional showers through the week ahead. Offshore, after a quick bout of sou’westers, the breeze should fill in from the N again over the weekend and into next week at 10-20 knots with swells holding at 4-6 feet through the period. Always check the latest Marine Forecast and Bar Reports before you venture offshore.
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