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Weekly Recreation Report: Marine Zone


March 24, 2015

 Marine Zone Fishing

Weekend opportunities:

  • When ocean conditions permit, bottom fishing has been good with many anglers bringing home black rockfish and lingcod. Anglers need to know about new regulations for blue, copper, quillback and China rockfish – check the ODFW sport groundfish webpage for rules and tools to help anglers correctly identify these species.
  • Ocean Chinook salmon fishing is open from Cape Falcon to Humbug Mountain, through April 30. See ODFW’s Ocean Salmon webpage for details.
  • Several surfperch species often move into bays this time of year.

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

Prohibitions at Oregon’s marine reserves at Cascade Head, Cape Perpetua, Redfish Rocks and Otter Rock are in effect. Fishing, crabbing, clamming, hunting and gathering seaweed are all prohibited.

Beach walking, surfing, bird watching, diving and other non-extractive uses continue to be allowed. See complete details and a map of the boundaries of the reserves:

In addition to 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 2015 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations (pages 94-98). Depth restrictions for bottomfish and Pacific halibut fishing are defined by waypoints.


Ocean recreational fishing is open for Chinook salmon from Cape Falcon to Humbug Mt. through April 30, 2015. This season is open for all salmon except coho salmon, with a bag limit of two salmon per day, and minimum sizes for Chinook salmon at 24 inches or larger, and steelhead at 20 inches or larger.

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. 

Anglers fishing in ocean waters adjacent to Tillamook Bay between Twin Rocks and Pyramid Rock and within the 15-fathom depth contour are reminded that only adipose fin-clipped Chinook salmon may be retained or on board while fishing prior to Aug. 1.

Pacific Halibut

The 2015 Pacific halibut quota is approximately 1 percent greater than 2014. Therefore, sport halibut seasons are projected to be similar to 2014. The staff-recommended season dates are on the OFDW sport halibut webpage and will be finalized by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission on April 24.

Misc Fishing

Spring often finds saltwater perch species like pile perch moving into bays. Redtail and silver surfperch can be caught from ocean beaches. Surfperch fishing tips

Herring in Yaquina Bay appear to be done spawning for the season.

One Pacific mackerel was observed over the weekend – this species is usually not seen until later in the year.

Bottom Fishing

Rockfish are biting off of Newport and Depoe Bay, and lingcod catches have been fair to good.

REMINDERS: Cabezon is closed through June 30, and the ocean is open to bottom fishing at all depths through the end of March.

New for 2015. China, copper, and quillback rockfish (in addition to yelloweye rockfish) may not be retained.

New for 2015. The marine fish daily bag limit is seven fish of which no more than three can be blue rockfish and no more than one can be a canary rockfish.

Anglers are urged to avoid canary rockfish (retaining one only if it is injured and caught incidentally while targeting other species such as black rockfish) and to use a descending device for any that are released. Although canary rockfish numbers are increasing, the population is not fully recovered.

There are separate daily limits for lingcod (2) and flatfish other than Pacific halibut (25).

Several handouts – including “What Can I Keep, and How Many?” and species identification tips – are available on the OFDW sport groundfish webpage.


Razor clams

About 16 million razor clams inhabit the 18-mile stretch of beach located between the Columbia River south jetty and Tillamook Head. This is the highest estimate of razor clams since ODFW began conducting stock assessment surveys in 2004 and is significantly greater than the previous peak of 9 million clams in 2005. At the time of the survey, razor clams were distributed fairly evenly along the entire stretch of beach, and the average size was a little over 2 ½ inches. Currently, this very abundant age class has grown to about 4 inches.

North coast razor clammers are in luck due to the abundance of clams, but because of a large number of small razor clams on the beach, diggers should be highly selective about which shows they pursue. Harvesters are reminded they must retain the first 15 clams regardless of size or condition.

Razor clam harvesters should also pay close attention to 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 clamming can be very difficult because the clams tend to show much less in those conditions.

Bay clams

Bay clamming in the Charleston area is good with tides. See ODFW’s bay clam webpage for more information on where and how to dig, clam ID, etc.

Recreational shellfish safety status, as of March 24:

  • Razor clams remain closed from the Oregon/California border north to the south jetty of the Siuslaw River in Florence due to elevated levels of domoic acid. The closure includes razor clams on all beaches, rocks, jetties, and at the entrance to bays in this section of the Oregon Coast. Opportunities to collect razor clams are still available along Oregon beaches north of Heceta Head.
  • Mussels are open along the entire Oregon coast.
  • Due to potential biotoxins, consuming whole scallops is not recommended. However, a scallop’s adductor muscle does not accumulate biotoxins and may be safe for consumption. Scallops are not being sampled for biotoxins at this time.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture's shellfish safety hotline is toll free and provides the most current information regarding shellfish safety closures. Please call the hotline before harvesting: 1-800-448-2474. Press 1 for biotoxin closures and 2 for general safety recommendations. For more information, call ODA’s Food Safety Program at (503) 986-4720 or visit the ODA shellfish closures webpage.

Check out the recreational shellfish pages on the ODFW website. The pages contain everything you need to know for identifying and harvesting Oregon’s clams, including maps of individual estuaries that show where to crab and clam.


Ocean crabbing is slow on the central and south coasts. Bay and ocean crabbers might run into red rock crab as well as Dungeness crab. Red rock crab is a native species but is not present in all of Oregon’s bays. Good places to try are from the docks in Tillamook Bay, Yaquina Bay, and Coos Bay. Red rock crab are caught just like Dungeness and have a larger daily limit (24); check out these “How to Crab” tips. Unlike Dungeness crab, any size or sex of red rock crab can be retained, but most crabbers keep only the largest ones which have much more meat than small ones.

Some sport crabbers have difficulty correctly measuring the minimum size for Dungeness crab, which is 5 3⁄4 inches measured in a straight line across the back immediately in front of, but not including, the points. See an illustration showing the correct measurement (jpg).

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 Marine Zone Wildlife Viewing

Spring has sprung on the Oregon coast! Red-winged blackbirds and hummingbirds are out in force in the marshes, elk are out grazing, and a peregrine falcon was spotted over Yaquina Bay.

Check out the Oregon Coast Birding Trail website for birding hotspots and self-guided itineraries for birders in any area of the Oregon Coast. Some especially great places to view seabirds and perhaps a bald eagle are Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area (the deck behind the lighthouse); Heceta Head State Park (the viewing area in front of the lighthouse); Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint (the north deck by the parking lot); and Ecola State Park (the westernmost viewing platform at Ecola Point overlook).

Coastal Wildlife Viewing Highlight: Yaquina Bay South Jetty

Looking for a great place to spend some time outdoors with family? Bird and wildlife watching is easy on the Yaquina Bay South Jetty Road in Newport. This is an ideal excursion in any weather, and is good for all ages. It is very flat (easy walking), and the birds and wildlife are always there! Bring binoculars or a spotting scope for up-close viewing.

To get there, from the South Beach peninsula in Newport turn onto South Jetty road and drive past the residences at the beginning of the roadway. Once clear of the northside buildings, the breakwater makes a cove. Begin to scan the water for harbor seals. You will see a nose, or flipper or a head. Stop and watch them—they seem to like company. A few adults and two or three pups are often spotted there.

To the west of the cove toward the ocean is the first of three boulder breakwaters. If the rocks are visible (low to mid tide), you could see surf scoters, coots, buffleheads, surf scoters, great blue herons, grebes, and two types of cormorants. Between the first and second breakwaters there are usually buffleheads, grebes and loons. Sometimes harbor seals are resting on the rocks, as well.

The second breakwater is usually a fishing spot, but be on the lookout for the same types of birds.

The third breakwater is frequented by brown pelicans. Watch them as they stand into the wind and sleep, stretch; preen and yawn! There will be cormorants and other waterfowl. A ruddy turnstone was there in the morning on Monday.

After the third breakwater look for animals feeding in the water—usually cormorants, surf scoters and sea lions!

As you make your way back toward the bridge, look for the marsh hawk on the south side of the roadway. The marsh hawk can be identified by its tan topside with a white rump patch, and white underneath with black-tipped wings. This bird can hover like a helicopter. The hawk may be roosting at the top of the small trees, or flying over the grasses. Just past the first breakwater, look in the flooded area within the grasses for mallards. Many are there now, and the males are chasing each other to be alone with the females.

For a more active adventure, bring bicycles or running shoes and explore the trails leading off the South Jetty road into South Beach State Park. These trails connect with the South Beach State Park campground and day use area, and offer a mix of paved and packed dirt surfaces, as well as sandy beach access. Raptors and small wildlife abound.

Wildlife Viewing Map

Get more coastal viewing ideas from the ODFW wildlife viewing map. For example, at Cape Blanco, trails lead to the beach and viewpoints where abundant seabirds like loons, grebes and scoters can be seen in winter; and marbled murrelets, rhinoceros auklets and raptors are around all year.

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