CENTRAL COAST FISHING
Week of December 17th
In the Creel: Rivers running high, fresh water infiltrating the bays and an extremely uncooperative ocean have combined to put the kibosh on fishing this week. The commercial fleet is still sitting in port waiting for toxin reports and better weather. So, overall it’s pretty quiet right now. NOTE: Chris is taking a vacation over the holidays. The next fishing report will be on Thursday, January 7th. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! This week’s Fish Tale: “Santa, bring me better luck.”
Salmon River: The fall Chinook fishery is very slow with most fish actively spawning or already spawned out. Winter steelhead season tends to kick in this time of year. A small number of fish are likely in the system now and look for the numbers to steadily increase over the coming month. Casting lures, bouncing the bottom or drifting jigs or bait under a bobber are good techniques to consider.
Siletz River/Bay: The fall Chinook fishery is slow. A small number of new fish may be found in the lower river but most remaining fish are actively spawning or spawned out. The wild Coho fishery is now closed for the season. Winter steelhead season is just getting underway. This time of year typically sees the first few fish entering the river. Best chances early on during lower flows will come from below the town of Siletz. Side drifting, bouncing the bottom or bobber fishing can be productive.
Yaquina River/Bay: Anglers are having very little success for fall Chinook in the upper section of tide water. Most fish are now on the spawning grounds. The winter steelhead run is now underway. The Big Elk tends to start seeing fish this time of year in small numbers. The current rain event should get the fishery going again.
Alsea River/Bay: The fall Chinook fishery is very slow. Most remaining fish are actively spawning. A small number of new fish may enter the basin over the next couple weeks. Winter steelhead season has arrived. The best chances to hook a chrome steelhead at this time would be in the lower section below Five Rivers. Tossing spinners, or floating bait or a jig are good options during low clear flows.
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.
Saltwater angling and shellfish harvesting…
Ocean Fishing, Bay Crabbing and Clamming:
* BOTTOM FISH Rough ocean conditions continue to hamper fishing activity. Otherwise, during safe weather windows, winter is a great time for bottom fishing: rockfish can be large and daily limits of lingcod are not unusual. Because of El Niño, anglers this winter might also run into uncommon or unusual species.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). Results for domoic acid in crab viscera continue to rise on this portion of the coast. Crab sampling will continue to monitor this situation. 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.
* 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 next minus tide series is December 22nd though the 28th, with the lowest at -1.4′ on Christmas Day; but all of these minus tides will occur from sunset to well 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: The commercial crab season is still on hold until the ocean settles down and toxin (domoic acid) reports come in. For now, the fleet is in port with a load of pots waiting for the starting gun which could be after Christmas this year.
Fore-Cast: The rivers are running high so you’ll need to be careful on the banks, and raingear will be de rigueur for the next week or longer. Offshore, the ocean is rough and additional storms are predicted for several more days. Always check the latest Marine Forecast and Bar Reports before you venture offshore.
Notices to Mariners… Yaquina Bay Entrance Lighted Gong Buoy 1 Light has been extinguished; Yaquina Bay South Jetty Light 4 has been destroyed; Yaquina Bay Channel Light Buoy 9 is showing an improper characteristic.
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