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Weekly Recreation Report: Marine Zone


February 24, 2015

 Marine Zone Fishing

Fishing Boats , Newport

Boats at the Newport Dock
-Photo by Bob Swingle-

Weekend opportunities:

  • When ocean conditions permit, bottom fishing has been good with many anglers bringing home black rockfish and lingcod. Anglers need to know about new regulations for blue, copper, quillback and China rockfish – check the ODFW sport groundfish webpage. ODFW has developed some tools to help anglers correctly identify these species.
  • Bay crabbing can produce good catches of red rock crab in Tillamook, Yaquina, and Coos Bay at this time of year. Tips and regulations are on the ODFW sport crabbing webpage.

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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

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:

Ocean Salmon

The 2015 Ocean Salmon Industry Group meeting (OSIG) is on Thursday, February 26, 2015, at the Hallmark Resort in Newport. This pre-season planning meeting will provide an early look at the 2015 salmon forecasts, and develop Oregon preferred recreational and commercial ocean salmon fishing concepts to take forward through the Pacific Fishery Management Council regulation-setting process. For more information, see the ODFW Ocean Salmon webpage.

Pacific Halibut

The 2015 Pacific halibut quota is approximately 1 percent greater than 2014. Therefore, sport halibut seasons are projected to be similar to 2014. The staff recommended season dates are on the OFDW sport halibut webpage, and will be finalized by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife commission in April.

Bottom Fishing

Lingcod Face
-Photo by Brandon Ford-

Anglers should be aware of new regulations for blue, China, copper, and quillback rockfish, and the seasonal closure for cabezon. The ocean is open to bottom fishing at all depths.

Last weekend brought great weather. Fishing for rockfish was good, while lingcod was only so-so. Herring were in Yaquina Bay.

The marine fish daily bag limit is seven fish. REMINDER: China, copper, quillback, and canary rockfish may not be retained; and only three blue rockfish may be retained per day (as part of the 7-fish bag). Sometime in March, retention of one canary rockfish will be allowed as part of the marine fish daily bag limit. REMINDER: Cabezon is closed Jan. 1 through June 30.

There are separate daily limits for lingcod (two) and flatfish other than Pacific halibut (25). Remember: 5 species of rockfish may not be retained: yelloweye, china, copper, quillback, and canary.

To help anglers identify common species and comply with the regulations, ODFW has produced several sheets of ID Tips for blue vs. black rockfish and for China, copper and quillback rockfish, as well as a handout titled “What Can I Keep, and How Many?” All are available on ODFW’s website.

The Stonewall Bank Yelloweye Rockfish Conservation Area, approximately 15 miles west of Newport, and Marine Reserves are closed to the take of rockfish, lingcod, flatfish and other species in the groundfish group (pages 95-98 of the 2015 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations book). The waypoints (page 97 of the 2015 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations book) are:

ID       Latitude         Longitude
1        44o 37.46'      124o 24.92'
2        44o 37.46'      124o 23.63'
3        44o 28.71'      124o 21.80'
4        44o 28.71'      124o 24.10'
5        44o 31.42'      124o 25.47'


Razor Clams
Razor Clamming
-Oregon Fish and Wildlife-

Razor clams

This year’s Clatsop beaches stock assessment survey found the highest number of razor clams since ODFW began conducting the surveys in 2004. About 16 million razor clams inhabit the 18-mile stretch of beach located between the Columbia River south jetty and Tillamook Head. This estimate of clam abundance is significantly greater than the previous peak of 9 million clams in 2005. The average size of clams at the time of the survey was a little over 2 ½ inches, and only a few larger than 4-inches were found. Currently, this very abundant age class has grown to about 4 inches. Razor clams were distributed fairly evenly along the entire stretch of beach.

Due to the large number of small razor clams on the beach, diggers should be highly selective about which shows they pursue. Harvesters are reminded they must retain the first 15 clams regardless of size or condition.

During the 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.

Bay clams

When able to get out, sport clammers should be able to collect daily limits of cockles, gaper clams and butter clams from the popular sites in Tillamook, Netarts, Siletz, Yaquina, Alsea, and Coos bays and several other locations along the coast. 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. See ODFW’s bay clam webpages for more information on where and how to dig, clam ID, etc.

Clam Digging
Clam Digging
-Oregon Fish and Wildlife-

Recreational shellfish safety status, as of Feb. 24:

  • Razor clams remain closed from the Oregon/California border north to Heceta Head (north of Florence) due to elevated levels of domoic acid. The closure 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 clams are still available along Oregon beaches north of Heceta Head.
  • Mussels are open along the entire Oregon coast.
  • 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.


During the winter months, crabbing for Dungeness crab in bays can be really slow. However, red rock crab can be plentiful during this time of year. Red rock crab are a native species but are not present in all of Oregon’s bays. Good places to try are off docks in Tillamook Bay, Yaquina Bay, and Coos Bay. Crabbers fishing for Dungeness in the ocean off the central coast recently have also been bringing in red rock crab. Red rock crab are caught just like Dungeness; check out these “How to crab” tips. The daily limit is 24 per person, any size or sex. Most crabbers who keep red rock crab keep only the largest ones which have much more meat than small ones.

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).

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 Marine Zone Wildlife Viewing

Hooded Merganser
Hooded Merganser Drale
- Photo by Kathy Munsel, ODFW-


Winter is a great time to see a variety of ducks in bays, estuaries, and sheltered coastal waters. Look for the striking Greater Scaup, Bufflehead, and Hooded Merganser (see photos). There have been lots of recent Brown Pelican sightings.

Keep an eye out for snowy owls – scientists tracking these arctic birds report that a seasonal mass southward migration from Canada is occurring, possibly due to boom and bust cycles of arctic lemmings. So far, the large white birds seem to be concentrated in the western Great Lakes area, but snowy owls have been sighted in several locations on the Oregon coast from Reedsport north in recent years, including the South Beach peninsula in Newport, Salishan Spit in Lincoln City, Netarts Bay, and the Columbia River south jetty. There have been several snowy owl sightings this winter at Fern Ridge Reservoir near Eugene, as well as near Pendleton.

The Audubon Society reports sightings of snowy owls and other rare birds, and if you are lucky enough to see one, you can submit your report to them. If you get a photo, we’d love to see it!

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).

Coastal Wildlife Viewing Highlight: Yaquina Bay South Jetty

Looking for a great place to spend some time outdoors with family? Bird and wildlife watching is easy on the Yaquina Bay South Jetty Road in Newport. This is an ideal excursion in any weather, and is good for all ages. It is very flat (easy walking), and the birds and wildlife are always there! Bring binoculars or a spotting scope for up-close viewing.

To get there, from the South Beach peninsula in Newport turn onto South Jetty road and drive past the residences at the beginning of the roadway. Once clear of the northside buildings, the breakwater makes a cove. Begin to scan the water for harbor seals. You will see a nose, or flipper or a head. Stop and watch them—they seem to like company. A few adults and two or three pups are often spotted there.

To the west of the cove toward the ocean is the first of three boulder breakwaters. If the rocks are visible (low to mid tide), you could see surf scoters, coots, buffleheads, surf scoters, great blue herons, grebes, and two types of cormorants. Between the first and second breakwaters there are usually buffleheads, grebes and loons. Sometimes harbor seals are resting on the rocks, as well.

The second breakwater is usually a fishing spot, but be on the lookout for the same types of birds.

The third breakwater is frequented by brown pelicans. Watch them as they stand into the wind and sleep, stretch; preen and yawn! There will be cormorants and other waterfowl. A ruddy turnstone was there in the morning on Monday.

After the third breakwater look for animals feeding in the water—usually cormorants, surf scoters and sea lions!

As you make your way back toward the bridge, look for the marsh hawk on the south side of the roadway. The marsh hawk can be identified by its tan topside with a white rump patch, and white underneath with black-tipped wings. This bird can hover like a helicopter. The hawk may be roosting at the top of the small trees, or flying over the grasses. Just past the first breakwater, look in the flooded area within the grasses for mallards. Many are there now, and the males are chasing each other to be alone with the females.

Viewing MapFor a more active adventure, bring bicycles or running shoes and explore the trails leading off the South Jetty road into South Beach State Park. These trails connect with the South Beach State Park campground and day use area, and offer a mix of paved and packed dirt surfaces, as well as sandy beach access. Raptors and small wildlife abound.

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 abundant seabirds like loons, grebes and scoters can be seen in winter; and marbled murrelets, rhinoceros auklets and raptors are around all year.

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