CENTRAL COAST FISHING
Week of March 10th
In the Creel: Stormy weather is keeping recreational and commercial fishermen alike off the ocean, so not much happened (or will happen) with bottom fishing and offshore crabbing last week (and this week). Winter steelhead fishing is slow to fair in the rivers, while clammers are in a funk as the first daylight minus tides in months are negated by high surf conditions. Maybe the best bet is rainbow trout in the reservoirs as the ODFW stocking program is in full swing. Or, with the arrival of spring, there are lots of surfperch around; fun to catch and good eatin’. This week’s Fish Tale: You’re on the wrong boat if the skipper has the engine manual open on the console next to the controls.
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. Rain this week 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: 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 with several thousand rainbows again next week, March 14th to 18th. You can peruse the stocking schedule here.
Saltwater angling and shellfish harvesting…
Ocean Fishing, Bay Crabbing and Clamming:
* BOTTOM FISH Not much action offshore this past week due to rough weather. 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.
* SURFPERCH This is a diverse group of fish that provides a variety of angling opportunities. Spring is traditionally the time when marine perch species like Pile Perch and Walleye Perch are found in good numbers in Oregon estuaries; Striped Seaperch are found year-round in rocky areas like jetties; and ocean surf is the place to find Redtail Surfperch and Silver Perch. For details on how to catch these guys, see ODFW’s Surfperch Fishing page. The bag limit for surfperch is generous at 15 per day. However, a lot remains unknown about the status of surfperch populations off the Oregon Coast, so, as usual, take only what you will use.
* 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. 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 current minus tide series runs through this Saturday, the 12th, but high surf will probably negate any chances for decent digging. 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: Weather continues to keep most of our fleet ‘at the boards’ and tied to the dock. Several vessels have headed to the Port of Toledo boatyard for their yearly routine maintenance. Barnacles, electrolysis, and burrowing wood-eating critters never rest. Upcoming seasons and new regulations are a topic at the docks as spring brings the next round of opportunity.
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- to storm-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