Marine Zone Fishing
-Photo by Brandon Ford-
- Fishing for bottomfish in the ocean can be good in the winter, when weather allows.
- Pacific herring are in Yaquina Bay.
- Feb. 25 & 26 there will be a Saltwater Sportsmen’s Show at the fairgrounds in Salem put on by the Oregon Coalition for Educating Anglers (OCEAN). Lots of good information about fishing for salmon, tuna, bottomfish, and halibut.
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.
The ocean recreational salmon fishery off Oregon is currently closed. Please stay tuned for updates on the 2017 seasons. Details, including regulations, and more information on ocean salmon seasons.
When the weather allows, fishing in the winter months for lingcod and rockfish can be fun and successful.
New bag and sub-bag limits for 2017: To stay within Federal allocations, and try to provide for year-round fishing opportunities, there are some changes to daily bag limits. Canary rockfish has been declared rebuilt and is now part of the 7 fish marine bag limit (no sub-bag limit). Black rockfish will have a sub-bag limit of 6 fish (out of the 7 fish daily bag, no more than 6 may be black rockfish). There is a 4 fish sub-bag limit for blue/deacon, China, copper, and quillback rockfish combined (out of the 7 fish marine bag, no more than 4 may be these species combined). The daily bag limit for lingcod remains at 2 fish and flatfish species, other than Pacific halibut, remains at 25 fish. Several handouts, including “What Can I Keep, and How Many?” (Updated for 2017) and species identification tips, are available on the ODFW sport bottomfish webpage.
Reminder the Cabezon season is closed; it will reopen July 1, 2017.
|Yelloweye Rockfish with symptoms of barotrauma.
- Photo by Bob Swingle, ODFW -
- Photo by Bob Swingle, ODFW -
Beginning Jan. 1, 2017 vessels fishing for or retaining bottomfish will be required to have onboard a functioning rockfish descending device, and 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 new 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.
The recreational bottomfish (a.k.a. groundfish) fishery is open at all depths through March, with the exception of the Stonewall Bank Yelloweye Rockfish Conservation area, approximately 15 miles west of Newport, which is closed to bottomfish and halibut fishing year round.
New for 2017 vessels fishing for or retaining halibut will be required to have onboard a functioning rockfish descending device, and 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.
The 2017 halibut quota is up 16.7 percent from 2016, which should allow for some additional fishing days, depending on weather and catch rates.
Columbia River Subarea: The all-depth fishery opens Thursday, May 4, 2017, every Thurs-Sun until the quota is caught or Sept 30. The nearshore fishery opens May 8, 2017 every Mon-Wed until the quota is caught or Sept 30.
Central Oregon Coast Subarea: The nearshore fishery opens June 1, 2017, seven days per week until the quota is caught or Oct. 31. The staff recommended spring all-depth “fixed” dates are: May 11-13, May 18-20, June 1-3, June 8-10, and June 15-17. If quota remains after those dates, back-up days may be available every other week. The summer all-depth fishery opens Friday, Aug 4, 2017, and every other Fri-Sat until the quota is caught or Oct 31.
Southern Oregon Subarea: Opens May 1, seven days per week until the quota is caught or Oct 31.
Large schools of Pacific herring where recently observed in Yaquina Bay. During this time of the year the fish are in the bay to spawn.
There are many fishing opportunities from shore and inside the bays and estuaries of the Oregon coast. Public piers provide opportunities to catch surfperch, baitfish and bottomfish, see section above on bottomfish for new bag and sub-bag limits for 2017. Rocky ocean coastline and jetties provide the ideal habitat for greenling, rockfish, cabezon (closed until July 1, 2017), and lingcod. These areas are often fished by boat and from shore, and can be targeted with rod and reel or spear gun.
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. Rockfish, greenling and lingcod generally take cover during strong incoming and outgoing tides. 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 fishing near Coos Bay
-Photo courtesy of Jim Muck-
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 Feb. 14.
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.
-Photo by Bob Swingle, ODFW-
The recreational harvest of mussels is open coastwide.
NOTICE: Razor clams are closed along the entire Oregon coast due to elevated levels of domoic acid. This includes all beaches and bays.
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. Recent tests by the Oregon Department of Agriculture have shown that domoic acid levels in Dungeness crab viscera have dropped below alert levels. Bay crabbing has slowed down as it typically does this time of the year.
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Marine Zone Wildlife Viewing
|Gray whale calf breaching
- Photo by Neal McIntosh, ODFW-
Travel Oregon has great ideas for Winter Wildlife Watching on the Coast.
The week of February 13-17, 2017 is NOAA Fisheries Whale Week. Information on many species of whales, on social media under the hashtag #WhaleWeek.
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.
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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