CENTRAL COAST FISHING
Week of October 29th
In the Creel: Another all-depth halibut opener is set for this Friday and Saturday, October 30th and 31st, but stormy ocean conditions will likely prevent much if any effort. Ditto for the final three days of ocean salmon fishing today through Saturday. Crabbing in the bays may be your best bet this week as catches have been very good recently, or perhaps try for a fall Chinook in the rivers (expect sharp rises in water levels this weekend as inches of rain are predicted). Clamming tides are great this week except for the fact that they’re all after dark, and razors remain off-limits due to toxins. This week’s fish tale: If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there’d be a shortage of fishing rods.
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: 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 producing 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 even got their lingcod limit. 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 Ocean salmon fishing is in its final few days; it is closed for the season beginning Sunday, November 1st, and doesn’t reopen until March 15th, 2016.
* HALIBUT The Central Coast Subarea (Cape Falcon to Humbug Mt.) nearshore halibut fishery is open daily through Saturday, October 31st. And, there will be an additional all-depth opening tomorrow and Saturday, October 30th and 31st. NOTE: Although waters are open at all depths for bottom fishing, during days open for all-depth halibut fishing, no groundfish may be taken and retained, possessed or landed (except sablefish, Pacific cod and flatfish species) if halibut are on board the vessel. The reason for this rule is to minimize impacts on yelloweye rockfish that would likely occur if there were additional fishing for lingcod and rockfish by all-depth halibut anglers.
* CRAB Although the ocean is off-limits for Dungeness crabbing because of the annual seasonal closure, crabbing in the bays is very good right now and should remain that way well into December. Of course, with heavy rains in the forecast this weekend, increased freshwater in the bays may create a slump in crabbing for a few days. Ocean crabbing is scheduled to open again on 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 Recreational and commercial harvest of mussels is closed from the mouth of the Yachats River to the California border due to elevated levels of domoic acid; the closure applies to mussels on all beaches, rocks, jetties and bay entrances. Mussel harvesting remains open from Yachats to the Columbia River.
* 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 current round of minus tides for clamming is underway through Saturday, October 31st, with the lowest at -1.7′ tonight; all of these low tides are 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: Inclement weather conditions, typical for late October, have limited the time for fishermen to get to and from the grounds. Much of our coastal waters are off-limits for most of the fleet in general, anyway. The final word from fisheries management officials comes from the federal government but our state managers would likely be more in tune with local fishery issues. Change is slow. We have a huge and diverse ocean out there containing quite a wealth of biomass. While we wait to see what’s ahead for the other fisheries, crabbing is the next big push. With the opener just a month away, there is a lot going on right now as boats get prepared. And, of course, there’s always hunting to distract an otherwise stalwart deckhand.
Fore-Cast: River and bay fishermen will have to dust off their raingear and be prepared to use it for the next several days as a pair of rainstorms head into our area. It will also be prudent to keep a close eye on the rivers which are expected to rise sharply over the weekend. Offshore, even with salmon and halibut open through Saturday, the ocean has different plans. A double-whammy storm system is predicted to generate up to gale force winds and rough seas building to 10-15 feet Friday through Sunday. Winds may fade early next week but it looks like seas will stay high. 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