CENTRAL COAST FISHING
Week of January 21st
In the Creel: Crab is king right now as both commercial and recreational crabbers continue to pull up big and meaty Dungies, though not a preponderance of them. Offshore bottom fishing may be possible this weekend with a short break predicted in the weather and seas falling below 10 feet. Razor clammers are headed north of Seaside to the Clatsop beaches for the current round of minus tides; while locally, bay clamming and mussel harvesting is open and should be decent through Monday. It’s winter steelhead time in the rivers, albeit water levels and turbidity will be above normal during the week ahead; so, you’ll have to work at getting the steelies to find your lure. Don’t forget that 2016 fishing licenses are now required for angling. This week’s Fish Tale: A $35,000 truck, $15,000 for a boat/motor/trailer, $1,000 worth of gear, a $38 license and voilà, free 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 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. 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 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. 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 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. 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, so the the very productive Clatsop beaches are available for digging.
* 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 current minus tide series runs today, January 21st, through Monday, 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: Lines at the stores, lines at the docks. This season’s Dungeness crab is getting a well-deserved reputation as some of the best ever. Meaty and sweet, the word is passing mouth to mouth (literally) that you’re missing a bet if you don’t start getting the garlic butter ready for a crack-fest. Hopefully, this will translate into a few bucks for the commercial fleet as they dance between weather windows to pull up the bounty.
Fore-Cast: There may actually be a break in the serious weather this weekend as river and bay fishermen enjoy lighter rain and lower winds. Offshore, it looks like seas may fall below 10 feet with winds under 20 knots. Of course, these conditions are subject to rapid change this time of year, so 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