CENTRAL COAST FISHING
Week of January 14th
In the Creel: With the ocean in an uproar, and expected to stay that way for a while, this is a good time to get in on some steelhead fishing in the rivers. Anglers are having fair to good success depending on river flows. Most shellfishing is now open with the exception of razor clams, but there aren’t any minus tides for another week. Bay crabbing has slowed down again due to fresh water infiltrating from the rivers, and ocean crabbing has been tough mainly because of the weather. Don’t forget that 2016 fishing licenses are now required for angling. This week’s Fish Tale: Defining ‘test’ is (1) The amount of strength a fishing line affords an angler when fighting fish in a specific weight range; (2) a measure of your creativity in blaming that darn line for once again losing the fish.
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 nice 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 fishery is fair and should improve following the next good rain event. 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.
Alsea River/Bay: Winter steelhead season is in full swing. Anglers are having fair to good success from the upper river down to the head of tide depending on river level. During higher flows, the upper river fishes well. During lower clear flows, it’s better to focus efforts in the middle to lower river sections. Casting spinners/spoons, or floating bait or a jig are good options.
Central Coast Reservoirs and Lakes: 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 still 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. Moderate catches of rockfish plus an occasional lingcod were made off the Central Coast in recent days. 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 now closed.
* HALIBUT Fishing for halibut is now closed.
* CRAB Recreational crab harvesting from the ocean, and in bays and estuaries, is open from the Columbia River to the California border. Crabbing in the ocean continues to be fair to moderate up and down the coast. Bay crabbing in Newport slowed last week; there were more red rock crab than Dungeness crab caught. Bay crabbing is best when there is not a lot of rainwater runoff to dilute salinity. 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.
* 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 on the Clatsop beaches 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 21st through the 25th, with the lowest at -0.8′ on the 23rd; all of these minus tides will occur from around sunset to well after dark. For the complete 2016 Tide Tables (in PDF format), click here. See ODFW’s bay clam webpage for more information on where and how to dig, clam identification, etc., here.
Commercial Fishing: Word from the trenches is good through the second round of crab gear ‘running,’ or the pulling-up and re-baiting process. One always hopes that there are crabs in the pots. For some, pots were as full as the first ‘pull’ which is a good sign of how it may go this season. Commercial crabbing ends August 15th, but most have hung it up and are off to other fisheries long before then. It can be very work-intensive even if the pots are nearly empty, or full of females and undersized males, or ‘shorts.’ Sometimes after a storm the gear can be full of rocks and empty seashells in spots. It’s a real adventure filled with stress and challenge that’s not for everybody, but some love it!
Fore-Cast: The ocean shows no signs of giving up. Storm after storm has kept seas high, and they’re about to get even higher over the weekend, possibly topping 25 feet. So, it’ll be better and considerably safer to fish the rivers and bays over the next week, though it’s still expected to be sloppy with lots of rain through at least Tuesday. Always check the latest Marine Forecast and Bar Reports before you venture offshore.
Notice to Mariners… Oregon State University has recovered the subsurface AWAC buoy previously set at approximate position 44-34.15.9N, 124-14-00.4W, 7 nautical miles southwest of Yaquina Bay. The TRIAXYS Research Lighted Buoy and Southwest Corner Lighted Buoy C have been recovered. The following buoys remain on station: North Corner Lighted Buoy A, Fl Y 2s at 44-34-17.950N, 124-14-00.490W, Southeast Corner Lighted Buoy B, Fl Y 2s at 44-34-08.540N, 124-13-54.330W. Mariners are advised to not transit between buoys A and B. This equipment is scheduled to be removed when a recovery platform becomes available and weather conditions permit.
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