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Weekly Recreation Report: Marine Zone


June 28, 2016

 Marine Zone Fishing

Rock Greenling
Rock Greenling
-Photo by Joshua Carpenter-

Weekend opportunities:

  • Charter offices along the coast can get anglers out to enjoy albacore, lingcod, salmon or halibut fishing.
  • Ocean coho – fin-clipped only – opens July 1 north of Cape Falcon and is already open south of there.
  • Shore anglers in rocky places can rock their creel with a variety of species including the usual (black rockfish), the prized (lingcod) and the curious (starry flounder, red Irish lord, and jack mackerel).
  • Clammers can rejoice the minus tide series beginning on Friday.


Send us your fishing report

We’d love to hear about your recent fishing experience. Send us your own fishing report through ODFW Fishing Reports -- the information will be forwarded to the local biologist who may use it to update various ODFW resources such as the Weekly Recreation Report.

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.

Marine Reserves and Other Management Designations

Fishing, crabbing, clamming, hunting and gathering seaweed are prohibited at Oregon’s five marine reserves, including the Cape Falcon Marine Reserve and Marine Protected Area (new for 2016). Beach walking, surfing, bird watching, diving and other non-extractive uses continue to be allowed at reserves. See complete details and marine reserve maps (listed north to south):

More information on marine reserves regulations and downloadable GPS coordinates

Want to know more? Subscribe to marine reserves e-news updates.

In addition to marine reserves, there are several other management areas to be aware of, such as the Stonewall Bank conservation area (west of Newport) and marine gardens, described in the 2016 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations (pages 79-83).

Ocean Fishing
Ocean Fishing
-Photo by Jessica Sall-

Ocean Salmon

Ocean Chinook fishing (open south of Cape Falcon) continues to be slow.

The selective coho (fin-clipped) season between Cape Falcon and the OR/CA border just opened on June 25. A few fish were landed in Brookings over the weekend.

Beginning on July 1, there is also a selective coho fishery open on the north coast between Cape Falcon and Leadbetter Point, Wash.

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

Bottom Fishing

Beginning July 1, cabezon may be retained (with a daily bag limit of one).

Up and down the coast, lingcod and rockfish catches have slowed (at least in part due to windy conditions). For example, while some limits of rockfish were seen on the south coast, anglers on average took home 3 rockfish and less than a half lingcod.

To catch lingcod, try a white plastic grub on a lead jig head in rocky areas when the tide is not running fast.

Deacon Rockfish
Deacon Rockfish (Sebastes diaconus)
-Photo by ODFW-

There’s a new rockfish in town – the Deacon rockfish. Deacon rockfish is a newly identified species that was formerly referred to as the solid version of blue rockfish. What does that mean for anglers? Nothing in 2016. Every rule that refers to blue rockfish (like the daily bag limit of 3) now applies to blue rockfish and deacon rockfish combined.

Just a reminder to anglers: Groundfish (bottomfish) is closed outside of the 30-fathom management line until Oct. 1. The line is defined by waypoints (pdf). For visual reference, see port-specific maps that show various management lines.

If you’re lucky enough to catch a colorful assortment of fish, keep in mind that the following species of rockfish are prohibited: China, copper, quillback and yelloweye. Several handouts, including “What Can I Keep, and How Many?” and species identification tips, are available on the ODFW sport groundfish webpage.

Although anglers may legally retain one canary rockfish, there is an annual management quota that, if exceeded, could restrict angling opportunities for other species, including black rockfish and lingcod. Therefore, anglers are urged to (1) avoid canary rockfish and (2) retain 1 canary rockfish only if it is bleeding from injury.

What about 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. ODFW encourages anglers to use a descending device when releasing rockfish with signs of barotrauma. An underwater video recorded by ODFW researchers shows the dramatic results of recompressing a fish; another video demonstrates various types of descending devices.

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

Pacific Halibut

The all-depth halibut fishery in the Central Coast subarea (Cape Falcon to Humbug Mt) is closed until Aug. 5-6. The nearshore halibut fishery in the subarea remains open seven days a week; a few fish were landed in Newport over the weekend.

The Southern Oregon subarea is open seven days per week until Oct. 31 or the quota is met. During the week ending June 19, approximately 14 fish, averaging 18 pounds, were landed, or about 1 fish for every 5 anglers who targeted halibut.

The Columbia River all-depth and nearshore fisheries are closed for the remainder of the year because the quota has been reached.

Anglers are reminded to try to avoid high-relief rocky areas where yelloweye rockfish can be encountered. If a yelloweye rockfish is accidentally caught, please descend the fish to at least 100 feet. Descending yelloweye takes a few minutes of your fishing time; however, it is better for the individual fish and fisheries as a whole.

Additional information on the sport halibut fishery, including weekly catch estimates, is available on the ODFW sport halibut webpage.


Albacore was hot again in Charleston last week, about 25-30 miles offshore, with catches averaging 7.5 fish per angler. Fish were also seen in Newport. Albacore are typically in areas where sea surface temperatures (SST) are warmer than 58 degrees and in areas where chlorophyll concentrations are close to 0.25 milligrams per cubic meter. Both of these conditions can change very quickly due to weather and upwelling.

Surf Perch Fishing
Silver Surf Perch
Silver Surf Perch
-Photos by Rick Swart, ODFW-


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. For details on how to catch these guys, see 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.

Herring Et Al

Yaquina Bay anglers are catching Pacific herring, American shad, and jack mackerel. When pursuing herring, keep an eye out for schools of fish at high tide over mudflats. Herring are food for osprey, belted kingfisher, and great blue heron.


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 June 27.

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.

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 lb. in the shell; may be taken by traps, pots or rings. (2) Each digger of razor clams (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 an Oregon Disabilities Hunting and Fishing Permit).


Mussels are open along the entire Oregon coast.

Razor Clams

NOTICE: Razor clams are Closed in oceans and bays from the north jetty of the Siuslaw River (in Florence) to the California border due to domoic acid. The Oregon Department of Agriculture is continuing to test for shellfish toxins. Shellfish safety information.

Razor clamming is Open from the Columbia River to the north jetty of the Siuslaw River.

The next set of low tides begins this week (July 1-7). Harvesters should pay close attention to the surf forecasts and be on the beach one to two hours before low tide. If the forecast calls for combined seas over 8 or 10 feet, razor clam harvesting can be very difficult because the clams tend to show much less in those conditions.

Clammers on Clatsop beaches, when referencing tide tables, should use the tide gauge at the Columbia River entrance.

During a previous low tide series (June 2-10), razor clamming was the best in the area between the Peter Iredale Beach and the Columbia River South Jetty, where limits were frequent. The Del Rey beaches were also quite productive. Overall, the average number of clams per person for the tide series was excellent at just over 14 clams.

Clams harvested were mainly medium clams (4 ½ inches) during the tide series with few larger clams (>5 inches) taken. The larger clams were found in the Sunset beaches and the Peter Iredale beaches. Currently, the entire Clatsop Beach has a very abundant set of 4½-inch clams plus another abundant set of 3¾-inch clams. Last summer’s stock assessment estimated that there were over 17 million clams on Clatsop Beach.

As encouraging as it is to see this robust population of clams, it can also lead to increased discard issues, as some harvesters will be looking for the very large clams that were harvested previous years. Harvesters should be selective on which shows to dig, choosing only the largest ones. Oregon State Police troopers have been addressing harvesters who retain more than a daily limit or who discard razor clams. Harvesters are reminded to keep accurate count of their clams and to keep the first 15 razor clams they dig regardless of size or condition – it’s the law.

Bay Clams

Bay clamming has been excellent all along the coast. This trend should continue during the low tides this coming week. Check the ODFW Shellfish website for where and when to harvest your favorite bivalves. Updated maps on where to clam. Some recommended areas to go are the Charleston Triangle in Coos Bay for gaper clams and Netarts Bay for butter clams.

red rock vs pacific rock

Red and Pacific rock crabs
-Photo by ODFW-


Crabbing is open coastwide in bays and the ocean. Ocean crabbing has been fair up and down the coast.

Many crab have molted recently, making them temporarily soft on the outside and watery on the inside. Until the shells harden, the amount of meat extracted from a soft crab can be as little as half that of a crab in good condition, and the quality of the meat is usually stringy and less tasty. The best practice is to carefully return soft crab to the water.

Red rock crab are caught using the same gear as Dungeness crab but have a larger daily limit (24), and, unlike Dungeness crab, any size or sex of red rock crab may be retained (although most crabbers keep only the largest crabs, which have a lot more meat than small ones). Red rock crab are not present in all Oregon bays; good places to harvest them include the docks in Tillamook, Yaquina and Coos bays.

For Dungeness crab, the correct way to check for minimum size (5 3⁄4 inches) is to measure a straight line across the back immediately in front of, but not including, the points. See an illustration (jpg).

ODA recommends always eviscerating crab before cooking and avoiding consumption of crab guts.

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 Marine Zone Wildlife Viewing

Killer Whales jumping
Orcas jumping

Orcas were spotted off of Charleston and also in Yaquina Bay in recent weeks, and an offshore commercial boat reported seeing humpback whales.

Grey whales are always a treat to see and have been spotted recently off the central and south coasts. While it is common for gray whales to migrate to summer feeding grounds in the Bering Sea, many remain along the Oregon coast through the summer. The best time to view whales is on calm days when whale sports 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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