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Weekly Recreation Report: Marine Zone


September 20, 2016

 Marine Zone Fishing

Ocean Fishing
Ocean Fishing
-Photo by Jessica Sall-

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.     

Weekend Opportunities

  • Chinook salmon fishing from Cape Falcon to Humbug Mt. Non-selective coho is also still open within this area.
  • Crabbing in Nehalem Bay.

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.

Continuing this week, a subsample of Oregon fishing license holders will be asked to participate in a survey to collect information about their recreational saltwater fishing experiences. Those that are contacted are encouraged to participate. All responses are important, even if you have not been saltwater fishing in the last 12 months. Information from this study will be used to improve the monitoring of Oregon’s fishing activity and improve the stewardship of marine resources. The survey is funded by Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission and NOAA’s Marine Recreational Information Program.

Ocean Salmon

From Cape Falcon to Humbug Mt., the non-selective coho season has been open since Sept. 3. Ocean fishing for coho improved slightly from last week, with catches increasing to about one coho for every two anglers. The non-selective coho season in this area will run through the earlier of Sept. 30 or the 7,500 coho quota. Chinook fishing remained slow. In this area, fishing for Chinook will remain open through October.

All salmon fishing from Humbug Mt. to the Oregon/California Border is currently closed. However, the Chetco River Fall Chinook State Waters Terminal Area fishery will be open Oct. 1-3 and Oct. 8-9. More information on this fishery (pdf)

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

Rockfish landings last week for ocean private boats improved slightly in the south, and remained about the same for the central and northern parts of the coast when compared to the previous week. Charter boats obtained limits or near limits of rockfish again last week. Kelp greenling and cabezon continue to fill out some bags. Success rates for lingcod were a bit lower last week compared to the previous couple of weeks.
The recreational groundfish fishery on the Oregon coast is closed outside the 20-fathom management line in order to protect yelloweye rockfish, which are more common in deeper waters, through September 30. The 20-fathom line (pdf) is defined by waypoints. For visual reference, see port-specific maps that show various management lines. The recreational groundfish fishery will be able to re-open to all-depths beginning on Oct. 1.

ODFW encourages anglers to release all prohibited rockfish by using 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. For more information and videos, please see the rockfish recompression webpage.

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.

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.

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

Pacific Halibut

Look for an update on the Central Oregon Coast Subarea all-depth and nearshore halibut fisheries by noon on Friday, Sept. 23. Updated information can be found on the ODFW sport halibut webpage.

In the Southern Oregon subarea (Humbug Mt. to the OR/CA Border), one in 10 halibut anglers landed a fish, however effort was very low This fishery is open seven days a week with plenty of quota remaining, just under 50 percent.).

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. To aid anglers with this, ODFW staff have developed maps, using a variety of data sources, to show soft bottom areas where halibut have been encountered with low bycatch of yelloweye rockfish. Maps are available for the Newport area and the Coos Bay/Charleston area. If a yelloweye rockfish is accidentally caught, please descend the fish to 100 feet or more. Descending yelloweye takes a few minutes of your fishing time; however, it is better for the individual fish and fisheries as a whole. Barotrauma and descending devices

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


The 2016 season for albacore tuna is starting to wind down, but fish should be available through early October. Weather conditions this season have limited access for a large part of the season. This fishery is almost exclusively outside of 20 miles of shore with most recreational boats fishing between 30 and 50 miles away from port.

Newport jetty fishing

Fishing off the South Jetty in Newport
-Photo by Cassie Whiteside-

Shore and Estuary Angling

There are many fishing opportunities from shore and inside the bays and estuaries of the Oregon coast. This week’s overcast skies and light wind provide good conditions for shore and estuary anglers. Public piers provide opportunities to catch anything from surfperch to Chinook salmon as they begin to enter coastal bays in anticipation of the fall rains. Rocky ocean coastline and jetties provide the ideal habitat for greenling, rockfish, cabezon, and lingcod. These areas are often fished by boat and from shore, and can be targeted with rod and reel or spear gun.

Yaquina Bay and Tillamook Bay anglers are experiencing an overall increase in catch rates of black rockfish. Other species currently being caught in the Yaquina include lingcod, kelp greenling, rock greenling, cabezon, striped seaperch, American shad, and jacksmelt.

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 cabezon 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.

Surf Perch Fishing
A misty morning of surfperch fishing during a large incoming tide Aug. 20 on the Oregon coast in Yachats.
-Photo by Joshua Carpenter/PSMFC-


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).

Redtail and silver surfperch are still coming close enough to shore to be caught just past the first few breaking waves in the surf and along rocky ocean shorelines, but catch rates are starting to decline. Other surfperch species can be caught year round inside bays and estuaries. Last week, striped seaperch were caught inside the Yaquina Bay in Newport.

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.


Pacific herring were not in the Yaquina Bay this week.

Anchovy have been spotted just offshore on the central Oregon coast and have not been observed entering the bays yet.


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 September 20.

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. Mussels can be found on many of the jetties along the coast, or on rocky natural habitats. Just be sure to check the Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations for any areas that may be closed to harvest.

Razor Clams

NOTICE: Razor clams are Closed in bays and the ocean 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 Closed from the Columbia River to Tillamook Head July 15-Sept. 30. This is an annual closure to reduce disturbance of young razor clams.

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

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. Unfortunately, there will be not be any good low tides for bay clamming this week.

red rock vs pacific rock

Red and Pacific rock crabs
-Photo by ODFW-


Crabbing is open coast-wide in bays and the ocean. Ocean crabbing has been really good. Crabbers in Coos Bay and Alsea Bay have had some very good crabbing lately. Nehalem Bay and Netarts Bay should continue to be a good crabbing. This is the best time of the year to go crabbing as the legal-sized crabs are abundant and the meat quality is improving.

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

Whale watching
Whale watching
- Photo by Bob Swingle, ODFW-

Gray whales are always a treat to see and have been spotted recently off the central and south coasts. There were many whales actively feeding very close to shore (less than 100 feet) at a variety of locations over Labor Day weekend. While it is common for gray whales to migrate to summer feeding grounds in the Bering Sea, there is a summer resident population in the Depoe Bay area. These resident whales can often be seen from the shore from locations such as Boiler Bay State Wayside, the Rocky Creek State Scenic Waypoint, Devil’s Punch Bowl State Park, and the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area as well as along the waterfront right in Depoe Bay, where they may be as close as 100 feet from shore. Currently, groups of gray whales have been feeding close to the rocks near Otter Crest.

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. Humpback whales have been foraging on schools of anchovies in the mouth of the Columbia River. Look for them near the south jetty. 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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