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Weekly Recreation Report: Marine Zone


November 29, 2016

 Marine Zone Fishing

Dungeness Crab

Noah loves crabbing
-Photo by Wade Campbell-

Weekend Opportunities

  • Fishing for bottomfish in the ocean can be good in the fall, when weather allows.

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 NOAA’s Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) and is being carried out in partnership with Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (PSMFC).

Ocean Salmon

The ocean recreational fishing season for Chinook salmon between Cape Falcon and Humbug Mt. closed on Oct. 31. However, the Elk River Fall Chinook State Waters Terminal Area fishery will be open November 1-30. More information (pdf) on this fisher. Details, including regulations, and more information on ocean salmon seasons

Bottom Fishing

Weather has been limiting bottomfish fishing the last several weeks due to weather conditions. For those few who have ventured out, there was some success with lingcod and rockfish.

The recreational groundfish fishery is open at all depths through March, with the exception of the Stonewall Bank Yelloweye Rockfish Conservation area, approximately 15 miles west of Newport, which is closed to bottomfish and halibut fishing year round.

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 -

ODFW encourages anglers to use a descending device when releasing rockfish with signs of 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. Use 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.

Deacon rockfish 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.

Pacific Halibut

Recreational halibut fishing in all Oregon subareas are now closed for the remainder of 2016. This year, anglers were able to catch approximately 95% of the Oregon recreational quota of just over 220,000 pounds. The 2017 quota will be determined in early January 2017.


Stormy ocean conditions kept anglers off the ocean, and it is likely that most fish are now out of range of most recreational anglers.

Shore 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 surfperch, baitfish and bottomfish. 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.

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
Surf Perch Fishing
-Photo by Kathy Munsel-


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.


The many bird species currently in the Yaquina Bay have been observed feeding on baitfish, however the fish were not identified to species.


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 Nov. 29.

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.


The recreational harvest of mussels is open coastwide.

Razor Clams

NOTICE: Razor clams are closed along the entire Oregon coast due to elevated levels of domoic acid. This includes all beaches and bays.

First time clammers
First time clammers
-Photo by Marty Liesegang-

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.


The Oregon Department of Agriculture and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife announced the immediate closure of recreational and commercial bay crabbing from Tillamook Head, near Seaside, south to the California border due to elevated levels of domoic acid. This includes Dungeness and red rock crab harvested in bays and estuaries, off docks, piers, jetties, and the ocean.

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 Marine Zone Wildlife Viewing

Gray whale
Gray whale calf breaching
- Photo by Neal McIntosh, 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. 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!

Numerous brown pelicans, harlequin ducks, scoters, loons, grebes, guillemots, auklets, and cormorants were recently spotted near the Yaquina Bay south Jetty. This location is also great for observing harbor seals. 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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