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Weekly Recreation Report: Marine Zone


April 14, 2015

 Marine Zone Fishing

Quillback Rockfish
Quillback Rockfish
-Photo by Bob Swingle-

Weekend opportunities:

  • Come to Port Orford and talk about fish! Redfish Rocks on the Docks, an informal get together to share information about Oregon’s Marine Reserves, happens Sunday, April 19 starting at 11 a.m. on the docks in Port Orford. See what ODFW and local fishermen are doing, talk with biologists who are studying the Marine Reserves, and enjoy free hot dogs and soft drinks.
  • Ocean Chinook salmon fishing is open from Cape Falcon to Humbug Mountain, through April 30. See ODFW’s Ocean Salmon webpage for details. Catches have been good in the past several weeks.
  • Several surfperch species often move into bays this time of year.

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.

Calab holding his first ever salmon.

Calab holding his first ever salmon.
-Photo by Rick Gallahon-


Ocean recreational fishing is open for Chinook salmon from Cape Falcon to Humbug Mt. through April 30, 2015. This season is open for all salmon except coho salmon, with a bag limit of two salmon per day, and minimum sizes for Chinook salmon at 24 inches or larger, and steelhead at 20 inches or larger.

Anglers are restricted to no more than two single-point barbless hooks when fishing for salmon and when fishing for any other species if a salmon is on board the vessel. 

Anglers fishing in ocean waters adjacent to Tillamook Bay between Twin Rocks and Pyramid Rock and within the 15-fathom depth contour are reminded that only adipose fin-clipped Chinook salmon may be retained or on board while fishing prior to Aug. 1.

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 on April 24.

Misc Fishing

Spring often finds saltwater surfperch species like pile surfperch moving into bays. Redtail and silver surfperch can be caught from ocean beaches. Surfperch fishing tips

Bottom Fishing

Brookings area fishermen reported catching numerous lingcod up off the bottom, making it hard to get to bottomfish, although black rockfish and blue rockfish also made a good showing in catches. Conversely, central coast fishers reported low lingcod catch rates last week, and those that were landed had stomachs full of tiny octopuses.

REMINDERS: Cabezon is closed through June 30, and the ocean is open only inside of the 30 fathom regulatory line (30 fathom waypoints) April 1 through Sept. 30.

New for 2015. China, copper, and quillback rockfish (in addition to yelloweye rockfish) may not be retained.

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.

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. Although canary rockfish numbers are increasing, the population is not fully recovered. 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 gut protruding from the fish’s mouth, result from the rapid change in pressure as fish are reeled to the surface. They are reversible when fish are returned to depth with a descending device, and ODFW encourages the release of canary rockfish with a descending device even if they exhibit signs of barotrauma, as long as they are otherwise uninjured. 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 release devices (both videos are at the bottom of the page).

There are separate daily limits for lingcod (2) and flatfish other than Pacific halibut (25).

Several handouts – including “What Can I Keep, and How Many?” and species identification tips – are available on the OFDW sport groundfish webpage.

Razor Clam
Razor Clams
-Oregon Fish and Wildlife-


Razor clams

For the tide series of April 5-April 10, razor clam harvesting along the Clatsop Beaches was quite productive for those who participated. Effort over the low tide series was low even with some of the lowest surf seen in the past month. During this tide series harvest was the best at Sunset beach where harvesters had nearly 14 clams per person on average. The Del Rey to the Gearhart beaches was also quite productive with an average of 13 clams per person while the rest of the beach areas averaged between 12-13 clams per person. Clams harvested were mainly medium clams (4 ¼ inches) during the tide series with few larger clams (>5 inches) taken. Currently, the entire Clatsop Beach has a very abundant set of 4 inch clams. Last summer’s stock assessment estimated that there were over 16 million clams on Clatsop Beach.

As encouraging as it is to see this robust population of clams, it can also lead to increased discard issues as some harvesters will be looking for the very large clams that were harvested last year. Staff has observed increasing discard rates (clams replanted) on the Clatsop beaches this past tide series. Staff has also observed harvesters retaining more than a daily limit when the harvesting is good. Harvesters are reminded to keep accurate count of the clams they have retained and need to keep the first 15 clams they dig regardless of size or condition as per permanent regulations.

The next set of low tides begins April 18 – April 23. This is a large low tide series in both strength and duration. 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 clam harvesting can be very difficult because the clams tend to show much less in those conditions. When referencing tide tables, Clatsop beach razor clam harvesters should use the tide gauge at the Columbia River entrance.

Bay clams

Bay clamming in the Charleston area is good with tides. See ODFW’s bay clam webpage for more information on where and how to dig, clam ID, etc.

Bay clams

Starting this weekend, several days of great low tides will provide many opportunities to dig gaper clams, cockles, and butter clams. Coos Bay, Yaquina Bay, Netarts Bay, and Tillamook Bay are four bays where bay clams can be found. Recent stock assessments have revealed abundant populations and that current harvest levels are sustainable. See ODFW’s bay clam webpage for more information on where and how to dig, clam ID, etc.

Recreational shellfish safety status, as of April 14:

  • Razor clams remain closed from the Oregon/California border north to the south jetty of the Siuslaw River in 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 the Siuslaw River.
  • 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 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.


Ocean crabbing is slow on the central and south coasts, although it has picked up a bit recently, with catch rates up to 2 crabs per pot observed on a recent central coast trip. Bay and ocean crabbers might run into red rock crab as well as Dungeness crab. Red rock crab is a native species but is not present in all of Oregon’s 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.

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

Couple Whale Watching

Couple Whale Watching
-Photo by Kathy Munsel-

It’s a great time of year to see gray whales heading north with their calves. On a calm day, their blows can be easy to spot from a high vantage point on the shore, or take advantage of a whale-watching tour to see them from sea level.


Velella velella are returning to Oregon beaches. These blue or purple “By-the-wind sailors” are small pelagic jellyfish normally found offshore. Strong westerly winds bring them onto our beaches on occasion, mostly in the spring. Did you know that these tiny creatures are found throughout the Pacific, but their “sails” are oriented differently on each side of the ocean and north vs. south of the equator, so that each quadrant’s prevailing wind and current patterns help them stay in their preferred offshore locations?

Learn more in a publication by Oregon Sea Grant.


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 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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