CENTRAL COAST FISHING
Week of February 4th
In the Creel: Winter steelhead fishing is good in most of the rivers now that flows have stabilized somewhat, and rainbow trout fishing kicks into gear next week when the ODFW stocking program begins at Big Creek and Olalla. Crabbing has been up and down the past week, and clamming is about to get better as a series of minus tides begins on Saturday. You’ll have to head north for razors, though, as Central Coast beaches remain off-limits due to toxins. Between the storms, bottom fishing has been terrific with lotsa limits of rockfish and some nice lings coming in over the gunnels. This week’s Fish Tale: “Heck, I’ve used bait bigger’n that guppy you just landed!”
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. Next week, 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. The few boats that were able to get out of Newport last week had limits of large rockfish and nearly one lingcod per angler. 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 crabbing out of Newport was slow last week; crabbing in the bays for both Dungeness and red rock crab was up and down. 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 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: Crabbing continues with the fleet getting a few days of decent weather; it’s always nice to see those lights out there at night. But, they’ll probably be portside today and tomorrow before conditions settle down again.
Fore-Cast: River and bay fishermen are in for a treat beginning Sunday as sunshine, warmer temperatures and light winds are predicted through midweek. Offshore, rough large seas and fairly strong winds are expected for the next couple of days, but both should be subsiding by Sunday. It looks like a pretty good fishing weather window early next week before another storm system arrives Wednesday or Thursday. 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.
Notices to Mariners… Depoe Bay Entrance Lighted Bell Buoy 2 has been relocated from 44-48-27.503N, 124-04-25.567W, to 44-48-28.618N, 124-04-27.544W. Also, caution is advised for all vessels operating near Seal Rock (between Newport and Waldport) where a research mooring is in place through the end of February. Details and exact coordinates are available here.
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