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Weekly Recreation Report: Marine Zone


September 19, 2017

 Marine Zone Fishing

Huge Halibut
Tyler's First Halibut
-Photo by Jacob Miller-

Weekend Opportunities

  • The Central Oregon Coast nearshore halibut fishery is open seven days a week.
  • Flatfish fishing is open at all depths (this does not include Pacific halibut). The daily bag limit is 25.


  • The Oregon recreational bottomfish fishery is closed to all species except flatfish as of Sept. 18. This includes all rockfish, lingcod, greenling, cabezon, skates, Pacific cod and sablefish.
  • The non-selective ocean coho fishery from Cape Falcon to Humbug Mountain is closed.
  • Razor clams remain closed from the Columbia River South Jetty to Tillamook Head (south of Seaside) and from Cascade Head to the OR/CA border due to elevated levels of domoic acid. This includes all beaches and bays.
  • The Columbia River Ocean Salmon Management Area (Leadbetter Point, Washington to Cape Falcon, Oregon), is closed to all salmon angling.

Saltwater News Bulletins

You can subscribe to receive e-mails and text message alerts for marine topics you are interested in. It’s easy to unsubscribe at any time. Your phone and e-mail information will remain confidential. Six different lists of interest to ocean enthusiasts are available: Bottomfish (recreational), Halibut (recreational), Ocean Salmon (recreational), Ocean Salmon (commercial troll), Commercial Nearshore Groundfish, and Marine Reserves.

Ocean Salmon

Cape Falcon to Humbug Mountain

The Cape Falcon to Humbug Mt. Chinook salmon recreational fishing season opened March 15, 2017 and is scheduled to run through Oct. 31, 2017. This season is open for all salmon except coho salmon, with a bag limit of two salmon per day, and minimum sizes for Chinook at 24 inches or larger, and steelhead at 20 inches or larger.

During the most recent week of fishing (Sept. 11-17) the best catch rates for Chinook were observed at Garibaldi with 0.2 Chinook per angler. Pacific City had a catch rate of 0.1 Chinook per angler.

Fishing for all salmon except coho remains open through Oct. 31. Note that during the month of October salmon angling will be limited to only inside of the 40 fathom regulatory line.

Ocean salmon catch and effort estimates can be found here.

Just a reminder: Anglers are restricted to no more than two single point barbless hooks when fishing for salmon, and when fishing for any other species if a salmon is on board the vessel.

Details, including regulations, and more information on ocean salmon seasons.

Yelloweye Rockfish with signs of barotrauma
Yelloweye Rockfish with symptoms of barotrauma.
- Photo by Bob Swingle, ODFW -
Descending devices
Recompression devices.
- Photo by Bob Swingle, ODFW -

Bottom Fishing

Oregon’s recreational bottomfish (a.k.a. groundfish) season is closed as of Monday, Sept. 18, because quotas for several species have been reached. Anglers may no longer catch or retain lingcod, any species of rockfish, cabezon, greenling, or other bottomfish species except for flatfish species (sanddab and Petrale sole, for example). Fishing for flatfish species (excluding Pacific halibut) is open at all depths. For more information, see News Release.

The Stonewall Bank Yelloweye Rockfish Conservation area, approximately 15 miles west of Newport, is closed to bottomfish (groundfish) and halibut fishing year round.

Vessels fishing for or retaining flatfish species or Pacific halibut are required (1) to have onboard a functioning rockfish descending device, and (2) use it to descend any rockfish released when fishing outside of the 30-fathom regulatory line. For more information and videos, please see the rockfish recompression webpage.

In addition to the descending device rule, ODFW continues to encourage anglers to use a descending device when releasing any rockfish with signs of barotrauma. Signs of barotrauma, such as bulging eyes and a gut protruding from the mouth, are reversible when fish are returned to depth with a descending device. Use a descending device to safely return fish to a depth of 60 feet or more. Even fish that are severely bloated can survive after being released at depth.

Albacore Tuna

Albacore have been tough to find for most of the season with only short periods when the conditions have come together. During the week of Sept. 11-17, the best catch rates were at Brookings with 9.3 albacore per angler and at Astoria with 3.9 albacore per angler. Anglers are reminded that trips offshore for albacore are challenging and proper safety equipment and awareness of weather forecasts and changing conditions are critical to have a safe trip. Albacore are typically found where surface water temperatures are at least 59oF and chlorophyll concentrations are below 0.25 mg/m3 (clear “blue” water).

Huge Halibut
Matt Blume with his “monster” 106-pound halibut
- Oregon Fish and Wildlife -

Pacific Halibut

Next year’s halibut seasons are being developed now, and anglers are invited to provide feedback about proposed changes. ODFW will host two public meetings: Tuesday, Sept. 26, 6-8 pm, at the North Bend Public Library, and Wednesday, Sept. 27, 6-8 pm, at the Newport ODFW main conference room. The Newport meeting will be webcast. Background materials and an online survey will be available on the ODFW halibut web page after Thursday afternoon (Sept. 21).

In 2017 vessels fishing for or retaining halibut are required (1) to have onboard a functioning rockfish descending device, and (2) use it to descend any rockfish released when fishing outside of the 30-fathom regulatory line. For more information and videos, please see the rockfish recompression webpage.

Season map (pdf)

Columbia River Subarea (Leadbetter Point, WA to Cape Falcon, OR): The all-depth fishery and nearshore fishery are closed for the remainder of 2017.

Central Oregon Coast Subarea (Cape Falcon to Humbug Mt.): There will be an announcement by noon on Friday, Sept. 22, if enough quota remains for additional Central Oregon Coast summer all depth halibut days. The next possible opening dates are Sept. 29-30.

The nearshore fishery reopened on Sept. 3, seven days per week. 4,000 pounds of quota that is projected to be unharvested from other Oregon fisheries has been shifted to the nearshore fishery, to allow it to re-open.

Southern Oregon Subarea (Humbug Mt. to the OR/CA Border): Opened May 1, seven days per week until the quota is caught or Oct 31.

Surf Perch Fishing
Surfperch fishing near Coos Bay
-Photo courtesy of Jim Muck-

Shore and Estuary Fishing

Beginning Sept. 18, anglers may no longer catch or retain lingcod, any species of rockfish, cabezon, greenling, or other bottomfish species except for flatfish species like sanddab and starry flounder. Surfperch fishing is not impacted by this closure, and remains open.

There are many fishing opportunities from shore and inside the bays and estuaries of the Oregon coast. Public piers provide opportunities to catch surfperch and baitfish.

When jigging for herring in Yaquina Bay, anglers sometimes inadvertently catch juvenile coho salmon, or smolts. Although they look a bit like herring, smolts cannot be legally kept. Smolt ID tips (pdf).

When fishing from shore or inside estuaries and bays, it is important to check the tide. Many fish that swim into estuaries and bays, including salmon, surfperch, and Pacific herring, tend to come in with the tide. Catch of these species is more likely to occur closer to slack tide. Additionally, the accessibility of some areas can be completely dependent on the tide. Do not allow the incoming tide to become a safety hazard.


Surfperch are a diverse group of fish that provide a variety of angling opportunities. Striped seaperch are found year-round in rocky areas like jetties; and ocean surf is the place to find redtail surfperch and silver perch. Surfperch Fishing (pdf).

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.


Call the ODA shellfish safety hotline at 1-800-448-2474 before harvesting for the most current information about shellfish safety closures. Additional information is available from ODA’s Food Safety Program at (503) 986-4720 or the ODA shellfish closures website. Openings and closures listed below were accurate on Sept. 8.

For everything you need to know about identifying and harvesting Oregon’s shellfish, including maps of individual estuaries that show where to crab and clam, see the recreational shellfish pages on the ODFW website.


Mussels are open along the entire Oregon coast from the Columbia River to the California border. Rock jetty structures at nearly every port in Oregon support harvestable populations of mussels.

Razor Clams

NOTICE: Razor clams remain closed from the Columbia River South Jetty to Tillamook Head (south of Seaside) and from Cascade Head to the OR/CA border coast due to elevated levels of domoic acid. This includes all beaches and bays.

Dungeness Crab

Noah loves crabbing
-Photo by Wade Campbell-

Razor clam harvest is OPEN from Tillamook Head (south of Seaside) to Cascade Head (north of Lincoln City).

Bay Clams

Bay clamming is open along the entire Oregon Coast from the Columbia River to the California border. Check the ODFW Shellfish website for where and when to harvest your favorite bivalves. Updated maps on where to clam.


Ocean and bay crabbing is open coastwide. Newly molted, larger crab are being caught in the ocean and many bays. Some of these crab have hardened up a bit while others are fairly soft and have less meat in them. These crab will fill in and harden up through the summer and should be very high quality crab by September. Catches are increasing everywhere up and down the coast.

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 Marine Zone Wildlife Viewing

Gray whale
Gray whale
- Photo by Scott Groth, ODFW-

Gray whales are always a treat to see and can often be spotted off the central and south coasts. It is common for gray whales to migrate to and from summer feeding grounds in the Bering Sea, passing by the Oregon coast. In addition, there is a summer resident group that hangs out in the Depoe Bay area most of the summer. They are often visible from the sidewalk right in Depoe Bay, as well as just north of town from the Boiler Bay State Scenic Viewpoint and to the south of town at Rocky Creek State Scenic Viewpoint, Devil’s Punchbowl, and even as far as Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area just north of Newport.

Look for whales as they surface to blow, a spout 6-12 feet high, depending on sex. Gray whales usually surface to breath 3-5 times, then make a deep feeding dive, often with tail flukes visible, lasting 3-5 minutes. The best time to view whales is on calm days when whale spouts cannot be confused with whitecaps. Look for whales as they surface to blow air and occasionally flip their tails above the water. Don’t forget to bring binoculars!

Bird viewing tips are available from the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Another great source for birders is the Oregon Coast Birding Trail website, which includes self-guided itineraries for any area of the Oregon Coast and a species checklist.

All kinds of wonderful creatures – gumboot chitons and ribbed limpets, for example – can be viewed along the shoreline. The Oregon State Parks tidepools website has information on where and when to explore, what you can expect to see, and safety tips.

Additional coastal viewing ideas for marine wildlife are found on the ODFW wildlife viewing map.

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