WEATHER IN LINCOLN COUNTY

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Fishin’ with Chris

Chris Burns - Fishing

CENTRAL COAST FISHING
Week of March 3rd

In the Creel: “They’re jumpin’ into the boat.” The herring run in Yaquina Bay continues strong so now’s the time to get your jig out and load up, it won’t take long. Winter steelhead fishing has slowed down in the rivers even further this week, but a few fish are still being taken. Bottom fishing offshore, when the ocean allows, has been great with loads’o’limits coming in over the gunnels. Crabbing, however, remains weak both offshore and in the bays. Some daylight minus tides are coming up for clammers, and all bivalve species except razors are open along the entire coast. This week’s Fish Tale: ‘catch and release’ is defined as a conservation method inadvertently applied just before your salmon is in the net.

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 for both bank and boat anglers. Recent rains should help to move in some new fish and spread out the run. River conditions should remain good for most of the week. Side drifting, bouncing the bottom or bobber fishing can be productive.

Yaquina River/Bay: Pacific herring continued to be caught in good numbers in Yaquina Bay all week. Schools may come and go during the spawning season, which can last throughout March. The winter steelhead fishery is slow in the Big Elk. Casting lures or bobber fishing are the best techniques for this river.

Alsea River/Bay: Winter steelhead fishing is slow to fair. Rain this week should move in some new fish and improve the bite. 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 spring trout stocking program is underway. Big Creek and Olalla Reservoirs will be restocked again during the week of March 14th to 18th. You can peruse the stocking schedule here.

Saltwater angling and shellfish harvesting…

Ocean Fishing, Bay Crabbing and Clamming:

* BOTTOM FISH Private boats were kept off the ocean most of last week due to rough conditions, but charter boats made it out of Newport on several days, landing limits and near-limits of rockfish plus about one lingcod per angler. During safe weather windows, winter is a great time for bottom fishing: rockfish can be large and daily limits of lingcod are not unusual. 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 currently closed. 2016 seasons will be announced in April. Stay tuned.

* HALIBUT Fishing for halibut is currently closed. The 2016 nearshore season will open June 1st, and the suggested initial spring all-depth opening will be May 12th-14th. Dates won’t be finalized until April 22nd.

* CRAB Recreational crab harvesting from the ocean, and in bays and estuaries, is open from the Columbia River to the California border. Crabbing was fairly slow most of last week. 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 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 March 6th through 12th, with the lowest being -0.7′ on the 8th. 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: Local crabbers have been “blown in,” or idled, at the dock as they wait for strong winds and large swells to abate. Some smaller vessels have had less than ten fishable days this season to re-bait and collect what legal male crabs may be there. This time of year, three keepers per trap is doing well. Two salmon-related meetings were held last week. The first was about working out details for this season’s round of fisheries science. Participants report catch details and other research concerning sea temperatures, depth of capture, DNA studies, and more. One useful spin-off may be a portal to give and receive coordinates for lost crab gear and other hazards to salmon trollers. The second meeting was a glimpse of what the coming salmon season might look like. Meanwhile, several boats are gearing up for black cod when conditions improve.

Fore-Cast: Stormy weather is on tap during the week ahead. Wet and breezy conditions can be expected for river and bay fishermen. Offshore, winds will reach gale force at times, swells 10-20 feet are projected throughout the period. Of course, 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

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