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Weekly Recreation Report: Marine Zone


September 1, 2015

 Marine Zone Fishing

Huge Halibut
2015 Halibut Season
-Photo by Tammy Robinson-

Weekend opportunities:

  • The all-depth Pacific halibut fishery is open Friday-Saturday, Sept. 4-5, from Cape Falcon to Humbug Mt.
  • Friday, Sept. 4 is opening day of the non-selective ocean coho fishery from Cape Falcon to Humbug Mt.

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.


Anglers south of Humbug Mt. to the OR/CA border have through Sept. 7 to fish for all salmon except coho.

Moving north, from Cape Falcon to Humbug Mt., the ocean is closed to coho salmon fishing for the next couple of days but remains open for other salmon species. Starting Sept. 4 (Friday), anglers can partake in the non-selective coho fishery. What does that mean? Two salmon a day – any species – and there is no fin-clip restriction on retained coho. Gear and minimum length restrictions still apply, and keep in mind that this is a quota fishery, subject to in-season adjustments. Quota permitting, the fishery will be open through Sept. 30. Chinook fishing has been poor, but nearshore areas should improve as coastal fish begin returning to river mouths. In some places, shore anglers in estuaries are having better success than boat anglers.

North of Cape Falcon, fishing for Chinook and fin-clipped coho wasgood last week, and now (effective August 29) anglers may keep up to two Chinook salmon in the two-salmon daily limit in ocean waters from Leadbetter Pt., WA, to Cape Falcon, OR. Just be sure that all retained coho have a healed adipose fin clip. The Columbia River Control Zone is closed.

Pacific Halibut

Summary of open dates and regulations for the 2015 Pacific halibut fishery (pdf)
Catch estimates (usually updated on Thursdays)
40-fathom line waypoints for nearshore fishery (pdf)

The Columbia River Subarea (Cape Falcon north to Leadbetter Point, WA) nearshore halibut fishery is open daily until Sept. 30 or the quota has been met; fishing has been slow. The all-depth Pacific halibut fishery in this subarea is closed for the remainder of 2015.

In the Central Coast Subarea (Cape Falcon to Humbug Mt), the all-depth halibut fishery is open Sept. 4 and 5 (Friday and Saturday). Whether or not additional days will be open later will depend on how much quota remains after this weekend.

Also in the Central Coast Subarea, the nearshore halibut fishery is open seven days per week inside a line approximating the 40-fathom depth contour. Good-sized fish (32 to 40-inches) have been coming in slowly but steadily, and catches have included petrale sole, a delicately-flavored fish, averaging just over 3 pounds.

The Southern Oregon Subarea (Humbug Mt. to the Calif. border) is open daily for Pacific halibut. A few fish were landed last week, but catch rates continue to be low.

Additional information about the sport halibut fishery.

Albacore Tuna
Linda Zasky with a nice Tuna.
-Photo by Tony Zasky-


Albacore fishing is slow, and reports from the south coast indicate fish were about 50 miles offshore last week. 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.

The Oregon Albacore Commission and Oregon State University’s Extension Service have recipes and information on canning and smoking fish.

Bottom Fishing

Limits of rockfish were had last week on the central coast, and on the south coast bottom fishing was fair to good. Lingcod catches continue to be spotty. If you’re lucky enough to catch a colorful assortment of bottomfish, keep in mind that (a) China, copper, quillback and yelloweye rockfish are prohibited, (b) canary rockfish has an annual management quota to consider, and (c) no more than one cabezon can be retained. Several handouts – including “What Can I Keep, and How Many?” and species identification tips – are available at Sport Groundfish.

The ocean is open for groundfish (bottom fish) only inside of the 30-fathom regulatory line (30-fathom waypoints) through Sept. 30.

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. (Not new: lingcod has a separate daily bag limit of two.) Three species of rockfish join yelloweye rockfish on the do-not-retain list: China, copper and quillback.

Canary Rockfish
Canary Rockfish
-Photo by Kathy Munsel-

Canary caveat. Although anglers may retain one canary rockfish, there is an annual management quota, so 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. Releasing individuals that are not bleeding from the gills or showing signs of injury other than barotrauma will help preserve fishing opportunity for other species such as black rockfish and lingcod throughout the year.

Signs of barotrauma, such as bulging eyes and a gut protruding from the mouth, result from the change in pressure as fish are reeled to the surface. Happily, symptoms are reversible when fish are returned to depth with a descending device. ODFW encourages anglers to use a descending device to release rockfish with signs of barotrauma.

See ODFW’s sport groundfish webpage for an underwater video of a fish recompressed and released by ODFW researchers, and an entertaining and informative video showing several different types of descending devices (both videos are at the bottom of the page).


Recreational shellfish safety status, as of Aug. 31:

  • Mussels. Good news! Recreational harvest is open along the entire Oregon coast.
  • Razor clams. Bad news! Recreational harvest is closed along the entire Oregon coast due to elevated levels of domoic acid. This closure includes all beaches and bays.
  • Bay clams. Recreational harvest is open (except for razor clams) along the entire Oregon Coast.
  • Scallops are not affected by closures when only the adductor muscle is eaten.
  • Commercial shellfish products remain safe for consumers; samples show no 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. Call the hotline before harvesting: 1-800-448-2474. 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.

Bay clams

The Oregon Health Authority has issued an advisory about naturally occurring arsenic found in softshell clams along the Oregon coast. Removing skin from clam’s siphon dramatically reduces arsenic levels, public health officials say. More info

Crabbing off the Oregon Coast near Newport
- Video by Bob Swingle, ODFW -

On the south coast, crabbing is improving in both the ocean and bays, but remains best in the ocean. Bay crabbing elsewhere is fair to good. Watch out for crab in both the ocean and in estuaries that have molted recently: their meat will be watery and disappointing. Crabs with hard shells or that have not recently molted – look for barnacles on the shell – are a better option for the crab kettle.

The large algal bloom that closed crabbing in southern Washington has not impacted crabbing in Oregon; tests show no harmful levels of domoic acid in Oregon crab. 

And what about those red rock crab? Bay and ocean crabbers might run into these guys as well as Dungeness crab. Red rock crab is a native species, however it is not present in all Oregon 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.

The correct way to measure the minimum size for Dungeness crab, which is 5 3⁄4 inches, is 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

Tide Pool
Father and son at the tide pools
-Photo by Kathy Munsel-

Great summer weather and low tides are conducive to tidepooling and exploring Oregon’s rocky and sandy shores. The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department’s tidepooling website has information on where and when to go, what you can expect to see, safety tips, etc.


Viewing tips are available from the US Fish and Wildlife Service. In September shorebirds head south to winter, and their numbers along the Oregon coast peak, making autumn a great time to see large flocks. The National Wildlife Refuges at Nestucca Bay, Siletz Bay, and Bandon Marsh are great places to watch for migrating shorebirds and waterfowl. Waterfowl that will winter along the coast begin to arrive soon.

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).

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 marbled murrelets, rhinoceros auklets and raptors can be seen throughout the year.

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