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Weekly Recreation Report: Marine Zone


October 6, 2015

 Marine Zone Fishing

Surf Perch Fishing
Fishing from shore
-Photo by Kathy Munsel-

Weekend opportunities:

  • Shore anglers might try lower estuaries for salmon after the coast gets a little rain.

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.


See the Southwest and Northwest Zone reports for lower bay and river news, which should improve as rains draw fish back into their home rivers.

Salmon meat can sometimes be peppered with small white globules. This is the work of Henneguya, a parasite that juvenile salmon pick up in freshwater. The condition, known as tapioca disease, is unappetizing, to be sure, but human health issues are not associated with it. Read more from ADFG (pdf)

Chinook Salmon
Chetco River, bubble
October 2014
-Photo by Art Chandler-

Ocean salmon fishing south of Humbug Mt. to the OR/CA border is open through Sunday, Oct. 11, in the Chetco bubble. Fishing has been slow but fish have been landed. See regulations (pdf)

Further north, from Humbug Mt. to Cape Falcon, the ocean is open for all salmon except coho through Oct. 31. Anglers are working hard for Chinook.

North of Cape Falcon, the ocean is closed for salmon fishing.

Pacific Halibut

Summary of open dates and regulations for the 2015 Pacific halibut fishery (pdf)
Catch estimates (usually updated on Thursdays)
40-fathom line waypoints for nearshore fishery (pdf)

Halibut fishing in the Columbia River Subarea (from Cape Falcon to Leadbetter Point, WA) is closed for the remainder of 2015.

In the Central Coast Subarea (Cape Falcon to Humbug Mt), the nearshore halibut fishery is open daily inside a line approximating the 40-fathom depth contour. An announcement will be made later this week regarding the status of the nearshore and all-depth seasons in this subarea. The nearshore quota was supplemented with additional pounds, allowing the fishery to stay open even though the initial nearshore quota had been reached.

The Southern Oregon Subarea (Humbug Mt. to the Calif. border) is open daily for Pacific halibut through Oct. 31. Effort has been low, but a handful of fish landed earlier this season averaged 37 pounds and 43 inches.

Additional information about the sport halibut fishery.


Albacore fishing seems to be done for the season, but some anglers remain optimistic. Albacore are typically in areas where sea surface temperatures (SST) are warmer than 58 degrees and in areas where chlorophyll concentrations are close to 0.25 milligrams per cubic meter. Both of these conditions can change very quickly due to weather and upwelling.

Black and Blue Rockfish
A Black and a Blue Rockfish
-Photo by Brandon Ford-

Bottom Fishing

The ocean is open to bottom fishing at all depths.

Anglers are bringing in limits of rockfish and good catches of lingcod from both nearshore and offshore. Blue rockfish are more predominant in some catches than are black rockfish, and Pacific mackerel continue to bite.

If you’re lucky enough to catch a colorful assortment of bottomfish, keep in mind that (a) China, copper, quillback and yelloweye rockfish are prohibited, (b) canary rockfish has an annual management quota to consider (as well as a one-fish daily limit), and (c) no more than one cabezon can be retained. Several handouts – including “What Can I Keep, and How Many?” and species identification tips – are available at Sport Groundfish.

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. (Not new: lingcod has a separate daily bag limit of two.) Three species of rockfish join yelloweye rockfish on the do-not-retain list: China, copper and quillback.

Canary caveat. Although anglers may retain one canary rockfish, there is an annual management quota, so 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. 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 a gut protruding from the mouth, result from the change in pressure as fish are reeled to the surface. Happily, symptoms are reversible when fish are returned to depth with a descending device. ODFW encourages anglers to use a descending device to release rockfish with signs of barotrauma.

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 descending devices (both videos are at the bottom of the page).


Razor clamming on Clatsop County beaches did not open on Oct. 1, the usual season opener. Razor clamming along the entire Oregon coast, including bays, has been closed since spring due to elevated levels of domoic acid. The Oregon Dept. of Agriculture will test for shellfish toxins weekly as tides allow. An area can reopen after two consecutive tests indicate safe toxin levels.

Recreational shellfish safety status, as of Oct.5, in addition to the coast-wide razor clam closure:

  • Mussels. Recreational and commercial harvest is closed from the mouth of the Yachats River to the California border due to elevated levels of domoic acid; the closure applies to mussels on all beaches, rocks, jetties and bay entrances. Mussel harvesting remains open to the north from Yachats to the Columbia River.
  • Bay clams. Recreational harvest is open (except for razor clams) inside estuaries along the entire Oregon Coast.
  • Scallops are not affected by closures when only the adductor muscle is eaten.
  • Crab and oysters are not affected by closures and are safe to eat.
  • Commercial shellfish products remain safe for consumers. 

The Oregon Department of Agriculture's shellfish safety hotline is toll free and provides the most current information regarding shellfish safety closures. Call the hotline before harvesting: 1-800-448-2474. 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.

Bay clams

The last good low tides of the year during daylight hours will occur in late October. Purple varnish clams, as well as some cockles and gapers, can be found at higher low tides.   


Crab Tonight!
-Photo by Thomas Fisk-

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife reopened the Washington side of the Columbia River to harvest of Dungeness crab after recent biotoxin test results were below the closure level.

Ocean crabbers have a couple more weeks to get their Dungeness before the seasonal ocean Dungeness closure, Oct. 16-Nov. 30.

And what about those red rock crab? Bay and ocean crabbers might run into these guys as well as Dungeness crab. Red rock crab is a native species, however it is not present in all Oregon 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.

The correct way to measure the minimum size for Dungeness crab, which is 5 3⁄4 inches, is 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

Humpback Whale
Humpback Whale
- Wikipedia -

Humpback whales migrate twice a year along the Oregon coast between breeding grounds in Central America and Mexico and feeding grounds off California, Oregon, Washington and Canada. Humpbacks are usually five to 15 miles offshore so are not typically spotted from land in Oregon. However, OPB reports that Bruce Mate, Oregon State University professor, confirms that El Nino conditions are driving ocean animals toward shore looking for food.

During the autumn, shorebirds also head south to winter, making this a good time to view large flocks along the coast. The National Wildlife Refuges at Nestucca Bay, Siletz Bay, and Bandon Marsh are great places to watch for migrating shorebirds and waterfowl. Waterfowl that will winter along the coast begin to arrive soon. Viewing tips are available from the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

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 fine 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).

The Oregon State Parks tidepooling website has information on where and when to explore rocky and sand shores, as well as what you can expect to see, safety tips, etc.

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 marbled murrelets, rhinoceros auklets and raptors can be seen throughout the year.

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