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Weekly Recreation Report: Marine Zone


May 23, 2017

 Marine Zone Fishing

Fishing Boats , Newport

Fishing Boats, Newport
-Photo by Kathy Munsel-

Weekend Opportunities

  • NOTICE: Razor clams remain closed along the entire Oregon coast due to elevated levels of domoic acid. This includes all beaches and bays.
  • The cessation of rain means higher salinity and the possibility of good perch fishing in bays. Try fishing for them near structures (like piers or rocks) just as the tide starts coming in.

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

The Cape Falcon to Humbug Mt. Chinook salmon recreational fishing season opened March 15, 2017 and is scheduled to go until October 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.

Ocean Chinook fishing effort and catch have been slow so far this season; however, some ocean Chinook were landed in Garibaldi and Winchester Bay last week.

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.

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.

2017 ocean recreational and commercial troll salmon seasons were approved by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission on April 21, 2017.

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

Bottom Fishing

Despite wind and fast drifts last week, anglers out of Newport caught limits of black rockfish. Lingcod catches were also good. Anchovies, an ingredient found in Worcestershire sauce, were spotted recently in rockfish stomachs and in Yaquina Bay. On the south coast, anglers had good catches of black rockfish with a smattering of other rockfish species and lingcod.

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.

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 -


  • Bottomfish is restricted to shoreward of the 30 fathom line (defined by waypoints) as of April 1.
  • Cabezon season is closed; it will reopen July 1, 2017.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2017 vessels fishing for or retaining bottomfish 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 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 Stonewall Bank Yelloweye Rockfish Conservation area, approximately 15 miles west of Newport, is closed to bottomfish (a.k.a groundfish) and halibut fishing year round.

Pacific Halibut

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.

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. Season map (pdf).

Columbia River Subarea (Leadbetter Point, WA to Cape Falcon, OR): The all-depth fishery is open every Thursday-Sunday. The nearshore fishery is open every Monday-Wednesday. Each fishery is open until its respective quota is caught or Sept. 30.

Central Oregon Coast Subarea (Cape Falcon to Humbug Mt.): The second opener (May 18-20) proved more successful than the first. Many boats out of Newport had limits of good-sized fish; some halibut were of such heft that two people were required to lift them onto the cleaning table. Some boats also took the opportunity to land petrale sole and sablefish with their halibut. Halibut estimates will be posted on the ODFW sport halibut page. The all-depth halibut fishery will next be open June 1-3, June 8-10, and June 15-17. If quota remains after those dates, additional days may be available every other week.

The nearshore fishery opens June 4, 2017, seven days per week until the quota is caught or Oct. 31. Note that when both the nearshore and all-depth halibut fisheries are open on the same day, e.g., June 8-10, regulations for the all-depth fishery – namely, groundfish retention rules – apply to all halibut anglers, regardless of where fishing occurs. The summer all-depth fishery opens Friday, Aug. 4, 2017, and every other Friday-Saturday until the quota is caught or Oct. 31.

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

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.

Recent reports are that there is good fishing for rockfish and perch near the jetties within Yaquina Bay. Be mindful of the wind and tide to make your fishing trip safe.

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 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 May 23.

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.

Razor Clams
NOTICE: Razor clams remain closed along the entire Oregon coast due to elevated levels of domoic acid. This includes all beaches and bays.

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.

Here a few opportunities for digging bay clams on Memorial Day Weekend:


Ocean and bay crabbing is open coastwide. Bay crabbing is slow as it typically does this time of the year. Recent reports are that crabbing has been getting better in the ocean.

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 Marine Zone Wildlife Viewing

Rock Sandpiper

Rock Sandpiper
- Photo by Greg Gillson-

The Audubon Society of Portland offers opportunities for volunteers to help monitor seabird nests. Training will be held on May 26 for Cape Perpetua Marine Reserve and on June 4 for Cape Falcon Marine Reserve. RSVP and learn more at

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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