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ODFW WEEKLY RECREATION REPORT
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Marine Zone Map

Weekly Recreation Report: Marine Zone

 

December 16, 2014

 Marine Zone Fishing

Fishing Boats , Newport

Boats at the Newport Dock
-Photo by Bob Swingle-

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

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:

Pacific Halibut

The 2014 Pacific halibut seasons have all closed for the remainder of the year. The International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) will set 2015 quotas for all areas in late January 2015. More information on the 2015 seasons will be available after that time.

Bottom Fishing

The ocean is open to bottom fishing at all depths. This time of year, whenever the weather permits, bottom fishing can be great fun and very productive. Charter fishing trips are an especially good bet for visitors to the coast, making an ocean fishing experience easy and enjoyable with expert crews to help provide and rig gear and find good fishing locations. December is a good time to try for deep water lingcod, and cabezon is open through Dec. 31. 

The marine fish daily bag limit is seven fish, only one of which may be a cabezon while cabezon is 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:

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-

Shellfish

A holiday feast!

Many people celebrate the winter holiday season with a seafood feast. The winter low tides will provide opportunity to harvest your own shellfish to make a nice meal like cioppino. Cioppino is a simple tomato-based stew of fresh shellfish and fish. A few shellfish ingredients that you can harvest yourself include: mussels (can be found off many jetties and rocks), bay clams (like cockles or butter clams), razor clams, and crab (Dungeness or red rock). Add some white fish (like halibut or rockfish from your freezer or the market) and enjoy!

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 was a little over 2 ½ inches, and only a few larger than 4-inches were found. 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 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.

Bay clams

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, Netarts, Siletz, Yaquina, Alsea, and Coos bays and several other locations along the coast.

Recreational shellfish safety status, as of Dec. 16:

  • 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.

Crabbing off the Oregon Coast near Newport
- Video by Bob Swingle, ODFW -

Crabs

Weather permitting, go crabbing! Ocean-caught crabs are big and full of meat this year, although crabbers might have to pay their dues in patience—many crabbers are reporting slow catch rates, but excellent quality crabs. Bay crabbing can also be very good this time of year. Keep in mind that major rain events can dramatically lower the salinity in some bays and prompt crab to move lower in the bay or out to the ocean. Check out the monthly crabbing report for data by port.

Crabbing is fun, but sometimes the cost, weight, and waiting can be a lot of work. For a family-friendly crabbing adventure, try a lightweight (and affordable) folding crab trap. Most commonly attached to a sturdy fishing rod or lightweight line, these traps are perfect for crabbing from the shore or a dock. Just zip-tie a chicken leg for bait, cast or drop 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 mouths of Siletz Bay or Alsea Bay, and from any public fishing pier. Combine some crabbing with your recreational paddling—folding crab traps also work well from small boats such as kayaks or canoes.  Don’t forget to take along a large bucket for your catch!

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 Viewing

Gray whale
Gray whale
- Photo by Scott Groth, ODFW-

Whale Watch Week is almost here (but why wait?)!

Volunteers with the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department’s Whale Watching Spoken Here program will be stationed at great whale watching sites from December 27-31 so they can help others spot the whales. 

The winter and spring Whale Watch Weeks highlight the passage of migrating whales making their way to and from the waters off Alaska and Mexico. The winter migration season is generally mid-December through January.
Don’t limit your watching only to the Whale Watch Weeks, though—Oregon also has resident gray whales who stick around all year, and great whale watching opportunities occur anytime the viewing conditions are good! Gray and humpback whales are the most common species sighted in Oregon’s nearshore waters.

Seabirds

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 around the holidays?  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, 12/15.

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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   © ODFW. All rights reserved. This page was last updated: 12/17/2014 9:58 AM