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Weekly Recreation Report: Marine Zone


August 23, 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.

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

Fishing, crabbing, clamming, hunting and gathering seaweed are prohibited at Oregon’s five marine reserves, including the Cape Falcon Marine Reserve and Marine Protected Area (new for 2016). Beach walking, surfing, bird watching, diving and other non-extractive uses continue to be allowed at reserves. See complete details and marine reserve maps (listed north to south):

More information on marine reserves regulations and downloadable GPS coordinates

Want to know more? Subscribe to marine reserves e-news updates.

In addition to marine 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 2016 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations (pages 79-83).

Ocean Salmon

This past week saw generally low effort and poor fishing conditions at most locations.

In the area north of Cape Falcon, ocean salmon fishing for Chinook was slow. However, the catch rate for fin-clipped coho was approximately one fish per angler. The season from Leadbetter Pt. to Cape Falcon will run through the earlier of Aug. 31, or the attainment of the 18,900 marked coho quota. This season is open to all salmon with all coho required to have a healed adipose fin clip.

From Cape Falcon to Humbug Mt., Chinook fishing remained slow. In this area, fishing for Chinook will remain open through October, and there will be additional coho fishing allowed beginning Sept. 3.

All salmon fishing from Humbug Mt. to the Oregon / California Border closed Aug. 7, but will reopen for Chinook for the three day Labor Day weekend Sept. 3-5.

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

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

Bottomfish anglers last week did well. Charter boats averaged 4 to 7 rockfish per angler and private boats averaged 2 to 6 rockfish per angler. Kelp greenling and cabezon filled out some bags. A smattering of anglers brought in 1 or 2 lingcod in some ports. Sanddabs were landed in Brookings; additional species up and down the coast included petrale sole, sand sole and surfperch species.

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. The 20-fathom line (pdf) is defined by waypoints. For visual reference, see port-specific maps that show various management lines. Sport halibut fisheries remain unchanged. 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, 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. An underwater video recorded by ODFW researchers shows the dramatic results of recompressing a fish; another video demonstrates various types of descending devices.

Newport jetty fishing

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

Short and Estuary Angling

There are many fishing opportunities from shore and inside the bays and estuaries of the Oregon coast. Public piers provide opportunities to catch anything from Pacific herring 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.

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 and Pile Perch were spotted inside the Yaquina Bay in Newport. See the surfperch section below for more information on surfperch commonly found on the coast.

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. Additionally, the accessibility of some areas can be completely dependent on the tide. Do not allow the incoming tide to become a safety hazard.

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

Pacific Halibut

The nearshore halibut fishery in the Central Coast subarea (Cape Falcon to Humbug Mt) saw a rise in effort last week, and one in three halibut anglers landed a fish averaging 24 lbs. This fishery remains open seven days a week, inside the 40-fathom line, and has approximately 18 percent of the quota remaining. Halibut anglers wanting to fish further offshore in this subarea can look for an announcement to be made no later than Friday, Aug. 26, as to whether or not sufficient quota remains in the all-depth halibut fishery to open again.

In the Southern Oregon subarea, one in five halibut anglers landed a fish, averaging 23 lbs, in the week ending Aug. 14. This fishery is open seven days per week with plenty of quota remaining (75 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 started earlier than average, and it is already looking to be a very good season. This last week, fishing effort for tuna was very low. This fishery is almost exclusively outside of 20 miles of shore with most recreational boats fishing between 30 and 50 miles away from port.

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).

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.


Yaquina Bay anglers are catching Pacific herring, American shad, and jack mackerel. When pursuing herring, keep an eye out for schools of fish at high tide over mudflats. Herring are food for osprey, belted kingfisher, and great blue heron.


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 August 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.


Mussels are Open along the entire Oregon coast.

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. This week there will not be great tides to dig bay clams but the afternoon low tides should be low enough to go after purple varnish clams in places like Siletz Bay.


Crabbing is open coast-wide in bays and the ocean. Ocean crabbing has improved in the last couple of weeks. Crabbers in Coos Bay have had some very good crabbing lately. In Bandon, the crabbing usually picks up in the fall but the latest reports are the crabbing has not picked up yet. Crabbing in Yaquina Bay is also very good.

Many crab have molted recently, making them temporarily soft on the outside and watery on the inside. Until the shells harden and the crab meat begins to fill the shell, the amount of meat extracted from a soft crab can be as little as half that of a crab in good condition, and the quality of the meat is usually stringy and less tasty. The best practice is to carefully return soft crab to the water.

red rock vs pacific rock

Red and Pacific rock crabs
-Photo by ODFW-

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-

Grey whales are always a treat to see and have been spotted recently off the central and south coasts. While it is common for gray whales to migrate to summer feeding grounds in the Bering Sea, many remain along the Oregon coast through the summer. 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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