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.
Stonewall Bank Underwater ROV Cruise near Newport
-Video by ODFW-
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:
Albacore fishing during the past week was restricted by ocean conditions. The 2014 season has been very productive with the third highest overall recreational landings on record. Albacore should still be available through most of October… if ocean conditions permit.
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 Columbia River Subarea (from Leadbetter Point, WA to Cape Falcon, OR) all-depth and nearshore seasons close by regulation on Sept. 30, 2014.
The Central Coast Subarea (Cape Falcon to Humbug Mountain) nearshore Pacific halibut season (inside the 40-fathom line) is open seven days a week until the quota is taken or Oct. 31. Through Sep. 21, 35 percent of the quota remains for this fishery.
The summer all-depth Pacific halibut season between Cape Falcon and Humbug Mountain is closed.
From Humbug Mountain to the Oregon-California border, Pacific halibut fishing is open seven days per week until the quota is reached or Oct. 31.
Fishing for bottomfish has been spotty, perhaps due to cold ocean water temperatures. Anglers have had to work to fill their bag limits. A few more lingcod have been showing up in catches.
The ocean outside of the 30-fathom curve (defined by coordinates) . opens to bottom fishing on Oct. 1. The marine fish daily bag limit is seven fish, including one cabezon during the cabezon season from July 1 until the quota is reached. The cabezon quota has not been reached by Sept. 30, therefore cabezon remains open. There are separate daily limits for lingcod (two) and flatfish other than Pacific halibut (25).
Remember: yelloweye rockfish and canary rockfish may not be retained.
The Stonewall Bank Yelloweye Rockfish Conservation Area, approximately 15 miles west of Newport, is closed to the take of rockfish, lingcod, flatfish and other species in the groundfish group. The waypoints are the same as in previous years but were misprinted on page 105 of the 2014 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations book. The correct coordinates are:
From Cape Falcon south to Humbug Mountain, Chinook salmon fishing remains open through the end of October. Catches have been very spotty, and anglers are likely to have best success in waters near river mouths targeting fish returning to local rivers.
The Chetco River Fall Chinook Ocean Terminal Area season will be open Oct. 1-12 within 3 miles of shore adjacent to Brookings. This year the bag limit has been changed to allow for the retention of up to two Chinook per day as long as at least one is fin-clipped. Anglers are restricted to no more than 5 non-clipped Chinook in this season.
Huge Razor Clam
-Photo by Matt Hunter, ODFW-
The Clatsop beaches will open Oct. 1 following the annual conservation closure. During the closure, ODFW staff conducted stock assessments surveys about the distribution, abundance and sizes of razor clams. Similar surveys have been conducted annually since 2004.
This year’s survey found the highest number of razor clams since ODFW began conducting the assessments. An estimated 16 million razor clams inhabit the 18-mile stretch of beach located between the Columbia River south jetty and Tillamook Head. This estimate is greater than the previous high of 9 million clams in 2005. The average size of clams was a little over 2 ½ inches, and only a few larger than 4-inches were found.
With the low numbers of larger clams seen during the assessment and the smaller clams quite plentiful, harvesters will need to be selective about the shows they dig. Harvesters are reminded they must retain the first 15 clams regardless of size or condition.
The next set of low tides is Oct. 7-12. During the fall and winter months, low tide series are in the evening so harvesters should plan ahead. Razor clam harvesters should pay close attention to the 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.
The Oregon Department of Agriculture and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife announced the closure of recreational and commercial harvesting of razor clams from the California border to Heceta Head, north of Florence on the central Oregon Coast. The closure is due to elevated levels of amnesic shellfish toxin (ASP) or domoic acid toxins and 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 clam are still available along Oregon beaches in the region between Heceta Head and Tillamook Head.
Low tides are now in the evenings. Low tides as high as +1.0 to +2.0 feet can still allow clamming opportunities, especially for purple varnish clams that can sometimes be found when the tide is as high as +4.0 feet. Sport clammers should be able to collect daily limits of cockles, gaper clams and butter clams from the popular sites in Tillamook Bay, Netarts Bay, Siletz Bay, Yaquina Bay, Alsea Bay, Coos Bay and several other locations along the coast.
Recreational shellfish safety status, as of Aug. 29:
Razor clams are closed from the Oregon/California border north to Heceta Head (north of Florence) due to elevated levels of amnesic shellfish toxin (ASP) or domoic acid.
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 web page.
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.
Crabbing off the Oregon Coast near Newport
- Video by Bob Swingle, ODFW -
Bay crabbing has slowed in some estuaries, compared to recent weeks. The best months for bay crabbing in Oregon are August through November. Check out the monthly crabbing report for the most recent data. The recreational ocean crabbing season is open through Oct. 15.
Crabbing is fun, but sometimes the cost, weight, and waiting can be a lot of work. Next time try a lightweight (and affordable) folding crab trap (e.g., Crab Max; Crab Hawk). Most commonly attached to a sturdy fishing rod or lightweight line, these traps are perfect for dock or shore crabbing. Just zip-tie a chicken leg for bait, cast your line, and wait for a “tug”. With these traps, crabbers often check them every 5 minutes! Popular places to use lightweight folding traps are the mouth of Siletz Bay or Alsea Bay, and any public fishing pier.
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).
Gray whale sightings remain plentiful up and down the coast. The blow, or spout, is the most common sign of gray whale activity in the area. When warm, moist air exhaled from the whales’ lungs meets the cool air at the ocean surface, it creates a bushy, V-shaped blow characteristic of gray whales. A gray whale's blow is up to 15 feet high, and is visible for about five seconds. Anticipate that the whale will dive for three to six minutes, then surface for three to five blows in row, 30 to 50 seconds apart, before diving deep for three to six minutes again.
Boaters in the vicinity of gray whales might also get a view of their tail, or flukes. Before making a long, deep dive, a gray whale often displays its 12-foot wide fan-shaped flukes. The weight of the tail above the whale's body helps the whale to dive deep. Guidelines for watching marine mammals from boat or shore without causing disturbance can be found at this website.
NOAA Fisheries has more information on gray whales and other marine mammals here.
Pacific Ridley Sea Turtle
Although several species of sea turtles occur in the ocean off the Pacific Northwest coast, they typically are not found on our beaches unless they are seriously sick or injured. Strandings that do occur in Oregon are often seen in late fall and early winter when ocean conditions are transitioning, possibly trapping turtles in colder waters, where they may become hypothermic.
Stranded sea turtles (or cetaceans) should be reported to the Oregon State Police, Wildlife Division at 1-800-452-7888.
A trained response team will evaluate stranded turtles and transport them to an authorized rehabilitation facility such as the Oregon Coast Aquarium, for appropriate treatment and hopefully release in warmer waters after recovery.
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.
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