CENTRAL COAST FISHING
Week of October 22nd
In the Creel: The season in general is winding down but some fisheries are still open and producing. Offshore, all-depth rockfishing and lingcod angling are currently your best bets; nearshore halibut has been spotty and may close soon. Ocean crabbing is closed; and while offshore Chinook fishing remains open for another week, it has never really caught on this year. Clamming tides are back next week, but you’ll need a lantern as the best ones come after sunset. So, attention turns to the rivers where slowly increasing water flows and lower temperatures should be getting fish on the move and on the bite. Salmon, steelhead and cutthroat trout are available. This week’s fish tale: You’re gonna need a bigger boat.
Salmon River: The fall Chinook fishery is producing well for both boat and bank anglers in tidewater. Trolling, casting lures or bobber fishing through the high slack tide tends to be the most productive. 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 fair to good results in the lower bay up to the head of tide. Trolling or bobber fishing through the high slack seems to be the most productive. The wild Coho fishery continues through November 30th 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 up to Coyote Rock typically produces the best results early in the season. Summer steelhead fishing is fair to good in the upper river above Moonshine Park. 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 having fair to good results for 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 typically produces the best results. Small numbers of Chinook are also up near Elk City. The wild Coho fishery is open through November 30th 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 up to the airport boat ramp typically produces the best results for Coho. 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: Wild Coho angling is now closed on the Alsea. The fall Chinook fishery is producing fair to good results for both bank and boat anglers, who are having the best action fishing from the lower bay up to the head of tide. Trolling, casting lures or bobber fishing are all working depending on the section and conditions. Bank fishing near the Highway 101 bridge or up at the newly-opened Don Lindly Park (Milepost 7 on Highway 34) can be good for Chinook. Cutthroat trout fishing is fair in the lower mainstem below the confluence with Five Rivers. 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. 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 to bottom fishing at all depths. On the Central Coast, catches of rockfish were good last week, and some anglers also got their lingcod. Large blue rockfish (daily sub-limit = 3 fish) continue to be more predominant in some catches than black rockfish, and anglers fishing over sandy bottoms may hook up a petrale sole or sand sole, tasty members of the flatfish order. Several handouts – including ‘What Can I Keep, and How Many?’ plus species identification tips – are available on the ODFW sport groundfish webpage here.
* SALMON Local waters are open for all salmon except Coho through October 31st. Offshore anglers are still working hard for this season’s elusive Chinook.
* HALIBUT The Central Coast Subarea (Cape Falcon to Humbug Mt.) nearshore halibut fishery is currently open daily through October 31st (unless revised by quota attainment, which may happen soon). Check here before you head out for halibut.
* CRAB Bay crabbing remains good this week; offshore ocean crabbing is closed until December 1st.
* 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 from the Columbia River to the Yachats River, but closed from the Yachats River to the California border due to elevated levels of domoic acid. This includes all beaches and all bays.
* BAY CLAMS Harvesting of bay clams is open along the entire Oregon Coast, however, the Oregon Health Authority has an advisory in effect for recreationally harvested softshell and gaper clams due to arsenic contamination. Read the softshell/gaper advisory here. The next round of minus tides for clamming doesn’t occur until next week, October 25th through the 31st, with the lowest at -1.7′ on the 28th; all of these tides will be in the late afternoon and into the evening, mostly after dark. 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: This week’s focus is on hagfishers. Out from our port are many offshore miles of ocean bottom inhabited by hagfish, also called slime eels. Their defense mechanism against predators is exuding amazing amounts of a sticky and, yes, yucky goo. The stuff also seems to protect the eels from the ever-present bug-like sand fleas. One vessel delivering hagfish lately described fishing as ‘spotty’ and reported that they had problems with ‘fleas’ quickly eating up the bait. Vessels are getting $0.80 or so per pound for hagfish at present. Kept alive on board a fishing boat, they are delivered and shipped live to places like Tacoma, Washington, for processing and further shipment to markets in the Orient and Korea. The eels are a delicacy there and the skins make a very good sort of leather. Bon appétit!
Fore-Cast: River and bay fishermen have a few more days to be outside sans raingear with a wetter pattern developing early next week. Big swells and stiff northerlies are on tap for offshore anglers today, but both should be diminishing over the weekend and into next week. Weak weather systems will probably bring moderate southerlies beginning Sunday or Monday. Always check the latest Marine Forecast and Bar Reports before you venture offshore.
Notices to Mariners… The nominal range of Yaquina River Light 38 has been increased from 3 nautical miles to 4 nautical miles, and its location moved to 44-35-03.987N, 123-57-29.185W. Also, on Chart 18520, relocate NOAA Environmental Lighted Buoy 46050 (Stonewall Bank) from 44-37-27.123N, 124-29-59.675W to new position 44-39-22.000N, 124-31-33.000W and change symbol to yellow open buoy from super buoy, Y “46050” Fl (4) Y 20s.
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