CENTRAL COAST FISHING
Week of January 28th
In the Creel: Recreational crabbing has slowed down a bit this week in the bays and offshore, though the Dungies that are being pulled are big and meaty. The next good clamming tides are a little over a week away, and razors are still closed along the Central Coast but open up north in Clatsop County. Also, see the special note on shellfish below. Winter steelhead fishing is picking up in the rivers with the predicted rain over the next couple of days expected to bring in even more fish. If you enjoy the family fun of trout fishing, the first seasonal stocking of Big Creek and Olalla Reservoirs is set to begin on February 8th. This week’s Fish Tale: The length of a fish is proportional to the length of the story told and the time since it was caught.
Salmon River: Winter steelhead fishing is fair and fish can be found throughout the mainstem as river conditions allow. Casting lures, bouncing the bottom or drifting jigs or bait under a bobber are good techniques to consider.
Siletz River/Bay: Winter steelhead fishing is fair to good with both bank and boat anglers hooking fish through the mainstem as river conditions allow. The river should fish well most of this week. Side drifting, bouncing the bottom or bobber fishing can be productive.
Yaquina River/Bay: The winter steelhead fishery is fair in the Big Elk and should continue to produce over the next few weeks. Look for the next good rain to push in another batch of fish. Anglers are reminded that there is a lot of private property along the Big Elk. Casting lures or bobber fishing are the best techniques for this river.
Alsea River/Bay: Winter steelhead fishing is good with anglers doing well in the upper to middle river sections. With so much rain this winter, many fish have pushed upstream quickly. 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: ODFW’s 2016 trout stocking program is about to get underway. During the week of February 8th-12th, Big Creek Reservoirs will be getting about 3,000 rainbows, and Olalla Reservoir around 2,000 fish. You can peruse the stocking schedule here.
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. Boats out of Newport had limits of rockfish over the weekend; catches consisted mostly of black rockfish and an occasional lingcod. Effort in other places was limited due to rough seas. 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.
* GENERAL SHELLFISH NOTE: A couple of regulations were inadvertently left out of the 2016 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulation booklet. (1) The daily bag limit for shrimp (edible) is 20 pounds in the shell; may be taken by traps, pots or rings. (2) Each razor clam digger (as with all clams) must have his or her own container, must dig his or her own clams, and may not possess more than one limit of clams while in the digging area (except under a Disabled Clam Digger Permit).
* CRAB Recreational crab harvesting from the ocean, and in bays and estuaries, is open from the Columbia River to the California border. Ocean and bay crabbing out of Newport dropped off last weekend; one ocean boat worked all day for 14 crab. 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 next minus tide series is February 6th through 11th, with the lowest at -1.0′ on the 8th and 9th; all of these minus tides will occur from around sunset to well after dark. So, take a headlamp or flashlight, warm clothing, and a spirit of adventure. Otherwise, during the day, several bay clam species can be found even when low tides aren’t so low: softshell and purple varnish clams occur primarily above +1.0, and cockles, butters and gapers can be found at tides as high as +1.0. 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: Crabbers are still fairly happy with the amount and quality of their catch. ‘Better than last year’ seems to be the consensus, and the price per pound has already jumped to $3.75. In recent years, a limit on how many traps per boat has been established. Based on landings in a ‘window’ period of 5 consecutive years, vessels were issued a permit for 200 to 500 pots including numbered identification tags showing boat name and permit number. This move has leveled the playing field and slowed the catch rate down a bit, possibly improving the price. At one time, the ‘big guns’ in the fleet fished 1,500 pots or more. The value of Oregon crab permits continues to rise as there are only a limited number of them.
Fore-Cast: River and bay fishermen can expect bouts of rain over the next week and fairly light winds beginning this weekend. Offshore, it looks like seas will be high again late this week and into the weekend, but winds should slowly become lighter during the period. Seas are expected to fall to 10 feet or below by Sunday and there are no big storms on the horizon. 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