CENTRAL COAST FISHING
Week of November 19th
In the Creel: The big news this week is that that darned toxin is now showing up in some Oregon crab. ODFW has just announced that all crab harvesting is now closed from Heceta Head to the California border for elevated levels of domoic acid in crab viscera (guts/butter). Bay crabbing is still okay in Lincoln County, but gut ’em a’fore ya cook ’em. Ocean crabbing is under its annual seasonal closure until December 1st. Bottom fishing offshore has been excellent if/when the ocean is calm enough. Clamming tides are returning next week, but the good ones are all after dark. Chinook fishing in the rivers is slowing down quickly, so sights are turning to winter steelhead which typically start showing up this time of year; a few early ones are already available. This week’s fish tale: Remember that you can list fishing on your résumé; the official job title is Aquatic Species Removal Engineer.
NOTE: You’re on your own next Thursday as Chris swaps fish for fowl. Happy Thanksgiving!
Salmon River: The fall Chinook fishery is slow with most fish actively spawning or already spawned out. A very small number of new fish may enter the system over the next couple weeks. Casting lures or bobber fishing tends to be the most productive this time of year.
Siletz River/Bay: The fall Chinook fishery is slowing down with most fish actively spawning or spawned out. A small number of bright fish can typically be caught over the next couple weeks as conditions allow. Best opportunities will come in the river above the head of tide. The wild Coho fishery continues 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). Summer steelhead fishing is fair in the upper river above Moonshine Park.
Yaquina River/Bay: Anglers are having slow to fair success for fall Chinook in the upper section of tidewater. Trolling herring, spinners or bobber fishing during the incoming tide through the high slack is typically the most productive. This fishery tends to slow right down by the end of November. The winter steelhead run is quickly approaching. The Big Elk tends to start seeing fish around the Thanksgiving time frame as conditions allow. The wild Coho fishery continues 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).
Alsea River/Bay: The fall Chinook fishery is slow with most fish actively spawning or spawned out. Small numbers of new fish may be found over the next couple weeks. Casting lures or bobber fishing is producing depending on the section and conditions. Winter steelhead season is approaching. Typically the first pulse of fish starts to enter the river around the Thanksgiving time period. The lower river is the best location to encounter one of these early fish.
Central Coast Reservoirs and Lakes: The Coho salmon fisheries in Siltcoos and Tahkenitch lakes are slow to fair, even though this time of year is typically the most productive. Recent rains and big tides should help move new fish into the lakes. The West Lake Boat Ramp at Siltcoos has been close for repairs but there is a neighboring private ramp that can be utilized. Look to fish near the lake outlet and by the major tributaries that enter the lakes. Casting or trolling spinners or various plugs can be effective. Fishing for the various warm water fish species tends to be slower during the winter months.
Saltwater angling and shellfish harvesting…
Ocean Fishing, Bay Crabbing and Clamming:
* BOTTOM FISH The ocean is open to bottom fishing at all depths. Rough conditions continue to hamper anglers. Otherwise, winter is typically a good time to fish. Before the ocean picked up last week, boats out of Newport landed limits of rockfish and some lingcod. 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 now closed.
* HALIBUT Fishing for halibut is now closed.
* CRAB All crab harvesting is closed from Heceta Head to the California border for elevated levels of domoic acid in crab viscera (guts/butter). Crab harvested recreationally from Heceta Head north to the Columbia River do not fall under this closure, although it is recommended that crab always be eviscerated prior to cooking and eating them. Evisceration includes removal and discarding of the internal organs and gills. Meanwhile, the ocean is off-limits for Dungeness crabbing until December 1st because of the annual seasonal closure. Crabbing in the Central Coast bays is very good right now and should remain that way well into December.
* 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. For those who don’t mind clamming in the dark, there’ll be minus evening tides next week. Take a headlight or flashlight and have some fun. The series happens November 23rd to the 29th, with the lowest being -1.7′ on Thanksgiving Day; but all of these minus tides will occur at or well 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: The fleet is mainly in port gearing up for the opening of crab season next month.
Fore-Cast: River and bay fishermen can expect typical November weather with cooler temperatures and rainy days alternating with partly cloudy periods. Offshore, the ocean has been pretty rough for the past week and will be today, but it looks like a slow trend toward calmer seas is developing. By the weekend and into next week, look for winds 10-20 knots and seas falling to 5-6 feet. 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