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Weekly Recreation Report: Marine Zone


October 25, 2016

 Marine Zone Fishing

Dungeness Crab

Noah loves crabbing
-Photo by Wade Campbell-

  • Bay crabbing is open year-round and can be good in the fall, except after heavy rain.
  • In the Central Oregon Coast subarea, the final summer all-depth opening of the year will be Oct. 28 – 29

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.

Ocean Salmon

Stormy ocean conditions kept anglers off the ocean this past week. Ocean between Cape Falcon and Humbug Mt. remains open for Chinook Salmon through Oct. 31. Details, including regulations, and more information on ocean salmon seasons

Bottom Fishing

Fishing for bottomfish was limited last week due to weather conditions. For those few who did venture out, there was some success with lingcod and rockfish.

The recreational groundfish fishery is open at all depths through March.

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 release all prohibited rockfish by using 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.

There’s a new rockfish in town – the Deacon rockfish. Deacon rockfish is a newly identified species that 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.

Although anglers may legally retain one canary rockfish, there is an annual management quota that, if exceeded, could restrict angling opportunities for other species, including black rockfish and lingcod. Therefore, anglers are urged to (1) avoid canary rockfish and (2) retain 1 canary rockfish only if it is bleeding from injury.

What about 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. ODFW encourages anglers to use a descending device when releasing rockfish with signs of barotrauma.

Pacific Halibut

In the Central Oregon Coast subarea, the final summer all-depth opening of the year will be Oct. 28 – 29 (Friday and Saturday). The nearshore halibut fishery is open daily through the regulatory closure of Oct. 31.

In the Southern Oregon subarea (Humbug Mt. to the OR/CA border) effort was very low last week. This fishery is open seven days a week with plenty of quota remaining, just under 50 percent. The season will close by regulation on Oct. 31.

The Columbia River all-depth and nearshore fisheries are closed for the remainder of the year because the quota has been reached.

Anglers are reminded to try to avoid high-relief rocky areas where yelloweye rockfish can be encountered. To aid anglers with this, ODFW staff have developed maps, using a variety of data sources, to show soft bottom areas where halibut have been encountered with low bycatch of yelloweye rockfish. Maps are available for the Newport area and the Coos Bay/Charleston area. If a yelloweye rockfish is accidentally caught, please descend the fish to 100 feet or more. Descending yelloweye takes a few minutes of your fishing time; however, it is better for the individual fish and fisheries as a whole. Barotrauma and descending devices

Additional information on the sport halibut fishery, including weekly catch estimates, is available on the ODFW sport halibut webpage.


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. Last week, jetty anglers caught black rockfish, kelp greenling and other bottomfish species.

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).

Striped seaperch catch has been reported in the Yaquina Bay this week. Striped seaperch, pile perch, and shiner perch can be caught year round in most Oregon bays.

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.


Pacific herring have been spotted in the Yaquina Bay, and are being caught along with American shad. Anchovy have been spotted just offshore on the central Oregon coast and have not been observed entering the bays yet.


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 Oct. 25.

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.


NOTICE: Mussels are Closed along the entire Oregon coast due to elevated levels of biotoxins.

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 last day of the ocean crabbing season was Oct. 15. Bays, estuaries, and piers are still open year-round. Recent heavy rains will likely slow down the crabbing in some bays. Crabbers in Coos Bay are still reporting that the crabbing is very good. Reports from the lower Columbia River are that crab there are large and in big numbers. This is the best time of the year to go crabbing as the legal-sized crabs are abundant and the meat quality is improving.

Red rock crab are caught using the same gear as Dungeness crab but have a larger daily limit (24), and, unlike Dungeness crab, any size or sex of red rock crab may be retained (although most crabbers keep only the largest crabs, which have a lot more meat than small ones). Red rock crab are not present in all Oregon bays; good places to harvest them include the docks in Tillamook, Yaquina and Coos bays.

For Dungeness crab, the correct way to check for minimum size (5 3⁄4 inches) is to measure a straight line across the back immediately in front of, but not including, the points. See an illustration (jpg).

ODA recommends always eviscerating crab before cooking and avoiding consumption of crab guts.

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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. Humpback whales have been foraging on schools of anchovies in the mouth of the Columbia River. Look for them near the south jetty. 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!

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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