CENTRAL COAST FISHING
Week of January 7th
In the Creel: It’s nice to see the ‘city’ of lights offshore as the commercial crabbing fleet is pulling up tons of big’n’meaty Dungies; so when ocean conditions allow, recreational crabbers can get in on the action, too. Crab, mussel and clam harvesting is now open along the entire coast, except razors which remain closed from Tillamook Head to the California border. In the rivers, it’s winter steelhead time as flows moderate and the fish become more active. Don’t forget that 2016 fishing licenses are now required for angling. This week’s Fish Tale: A school is a grouping where fish are taught to avoid your $30 lure and hold out for Spam instead.
Salmon River: Winter steelhead fishing is slow to fair and should 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: Winter steelhead season is underway and producing some fish for both bank and boat anglers. River conditions should continue to be on the drop and clearing for the week. Side drifting, bouncing the bottom or bobber fishing can be productive.
Yaquina River/Bay: The winter steelhead fishing should be fair to good as river conditions are now in shape. The Big Elk will produce the best fishing. You’re reminded that there is a lot of private property along the Big Elk but also a good number of pull-outs to target. Casting lures or bobber fishing are the best techniques for this river. The wild Coho fishery is now closed for the year.
Alsea River/Bay: Winter steelhead season is in full swing. Anglers are having fair to good success in the upper river and as flows drop conditions will improve for the middle to lower river. Tossing spinners, or floating bait or a jig are good options.
Central Coast Reservoirs and Lakes: The Coho salmon fisheries in Siltcoos and Tahkenitch Lakes are now closed for the season. Fishing for the various warm water fish species tends to be slower during the winter months. But there are numerous lakes in the Florence area that can provide good opportunity and have both boat and bank access.
Saltwater angling and shellfish harvesting…
Ocean Fishing, Bay Crabbing and Clamming:
* BOTTOM FISH Cabezon retention is prohibited January-June; this is an annual seasonal closure. Near-limits of black rockfish and blue rockfish plus some lingcod continue to be landed in Newport. Lingcod are beginning to spawn. 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 closed.
* HALIBUT Fishing for halibut is closed.
* CRAB Recreational crab harvesting from the ocean, and in bays and estuaries, is open from the Columbia River to the California border. It is always recommended you eviscerate crab and discard the ‘butter’ (viscera or guts) prior to cooking. The consumption of crab viscera is not recommended. Crabbing was fair to good last week on the Central Coast from the ocean and in the bays.
* RAZOR CLAMS The recreational harvest of razor clams is closed from Tillamook Head (south of Seaside) to the California border for elevated levels of domoic acid. This includes all beaches and all bays. The recreational harvest of razor clams is now open from the Columbia River to Tillamook Head.
* MUSSELS The recreational harvest of mussels is open along the entire Oregon Coast from the Columbia River to the California border.
* BAY CLAMS Harvesting of bay clams is open along the entire Oregon Coast. The next minus tide series is January 8th through the 13th, with the lowest at -1.3′ on the 11th; all of these minus tides will occur from sunset to well after dark. See ODFW’s bay clam webpage for more information on where and how to dig, clam identification, etc., here.
Commercial Fishing: Good ocean conditions have helped local crabbers set their traps and run gear for the first few days of the season. Fishing looks fair, but spotty for many. It was a boon, weather-wise, for the smaller boats to get out and collect keeper-sized male Dungies for a hungry market. But, bait can be quickly eaten by sand fleas, etc., and washes out of bait jars. An un-baited pot catches few crab, and research shows that 40 percent escape as it is. The real tale will be told when the next series of deliveries, or ‘pick’, comes into port in later days. There doesn’t seem to be any bonanza, so prices may go up.
Fore-Cast: There’s a break in the weather coming for river and bay fishermen as clearing skies and drier conditions are anticipated. Offshore, the breeze is coming down but seas are predicted to continue running at 10 feet or more for the next several days. 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