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Weekly Recreation Report: Marine Zone


July 25, 2017

 Marine Zone Fishing

Fishing Boats , Newport

Fishing Boats, Newport
-Photo by Kathy Munsel-

Weekend Opportunities

  • The Central Oregon Coast Pacific halibut summer all-depth fishery opens Friday August 4 and Saturday August 5, and can be open every other Friday and Saturday if quota remains, until October 31.
  • Cabezon opened July 1, with a 1 fish sub-bag limit, minimum size 16 inches


  • Razor clams remain closed along the entire Oregon coast due to elevated levels of domoic acid. This includes all beaches and bays.
  • The Central Oregon Coast Pacific halibut spring all-depth fishery is now closed.
  • Mussels are closed from Tillamook Head (just north of Cannon Beach) to Cascade Head (just north of Lincoln City).

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

Leadbetter Point, WA to Cape Falcon, OR

The ocean salmon season from Leadbetter Pt., WA to Cape Falcon, OR opened on June 24, 2017. The bag limit is two salmon per day, but no more than one Chinook, and all coho must have a healed adipose fin clip. This season will run through the earlier of Sept. 4 or a 21,000 marked coho quota (Chinook guideline of 13,200).

Success for adipose fin clipped coho has been improving with average angler catch rates of better than one salmon per angler. Anglers are reminded that no more than one Chinook per angler may be retained.

Cape Falcon to Humbug Mountain

The Cape Falcon to Humbug Mt. Chinook salmon recreational fishing season opened March 15, 2017 and is scheduled to go until Oct. 31, 2017. This season is open for all salmon except coho salmon, with a bag limit of two salmon per day, and minimum sizes for Chinook at 24 inches or larger, and steelhead at 20 inches or larger.

Ocean Chinook fishing effort and catch have been slow so far this season; however, some ocean Chinook were landed in Garibaldi, Pacific City, Florence, and Winchester Bay.

The Selective Coho (fin-clipped) season between Cape Falcon and Humbug Mountain opened on June 24 and will run through the earlier of July 31 or an 18,000 marked coho quota. The bag limit is two salmon per day, and all coho must have a healed adipose fin clip.

Fishing for adipose fin clipped coho improved substantially last week. Overall success was 0.73 salmon per angler trip with best catch rates for anglers fishing from Depoe Bay, Newport, and Florence. Anglers are reminded that retention of coho will close on July 31, and reopen for all coho on September 2. Fishing for all salmon except coho remains open during the period closed to coho.

Ocean salmon catch and effort estimates can be found here.

Just a reminder: 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.

Details, including regulations, and more information on ocean salmon seasons.

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 -

Bottom Fishing

Bottomfish fishing continues to be good out of most ports along the coast. Angler success for rockfish remained about the same as the last few weeks. Lingcod seems to have slowed down a bit out of some ports, however anglers out of Garibaldi, Depoe Bay, and Gold Beach continue to have good success. Remember to know and understand the new bag limits (see below).

New bag and sub-bag limits for 2017: To stay within Federal allocations, and try to provide for year-round fishing opportunities, there are some changes to daily bag limits. Canary rockfish has been declared rebuilt and is now part of the 7 fish marine bag limit (no sub-bag limit). Black rockfish have a sub-bag limit of 6 fish (out of the 7 fish daily bag, no more than 6 may be black rockfish). There is a 4 fish sub-bag limit for blue/deacon, China, copper, and quillback rockfish combined (out of the 7 fish marine bag, no more than 4 may be these species combined). The daily bag limit for lingcod remains at 2 fish and flatfish species, other than Pacific halibut, remains at 25 fish. Several handouts, including “What Can I Keep, and How Many?” (Updated for 2017) and species identification tips, are available on the ODFW sport bottomfish webpage.


  • Bottomfish is restricted to shoreward of the 30-fathom line (defined by waypoints) as of April 1.
  • Cabezon season opened July 1, 2017, 1 fish sub-bag limit and 16 inch minimum size limit.
  • Yelloweye Rockfish are closed to retention.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2017 vessels fishing for or retaining bottomfish are required (1) to have onboard a functioning rockfish descending device, and (2) use it to descend any rockfish released when fishing outside of the 30 fathom regulatory line. For more information and videos, please see the rockfish recompression webpage.

In addition to the new descending device rule, ODFW continues to encourage anglers to use a descending device when releasing any 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.

The Stonewall Bank Yelloweye Rockfish Conservation area, approximately 15 miles west of Newport, is closed to bottomfish (a.k.a. groundfish) and halibut fishing year round.

Albacore Tuna

Tuna are still well offshore (generally 45-60 miles or further). Good catches of albacore were observed at ports from Garibaldi to Bandon last week. Catch rates averaged 2.25 overall. Anglers are reminded that trips offshore for albacore are challenging and proper safety equipment and awareness of weather forecasts and changing conditions are critical to have a safe trip. Albacore are typically found where surface water temperatures are at least 59oF and chlorophyll concentrations are below 0.25 mg/m3 (clear “blue” water).

Huge Halibut
Tyler's First Halibut
-Photo by Jacob Miller-

Pacific Halibut

In 2017 vessels fishing for or retaining halibut are required (1) to have onboard a functioning rockfish descending device, and (2) use it to descend any rockfish released when fishing outside of the 30-fathom regulatory line. For more information and videos, please see the rockfish recompression webpage.

The 2017 halibut quota is up 16.7 percent from 2016, which should allow for some additional fishing days, depending on weather and catch rates. Season map (pdf).

Columbia River Subarea (Leadbetter Point, WA to Cape Falcon, OR): The all-depth fishery and nearshore fishery are closed for the remainder of 2017.

Central Oregon Coast Subarea (Cape Falcon to Humbug Mt.): The spring all-depth fishery is closed.

The nearshore fishery opened June 1, 2017, seven days per week until the quota is caught or Oct. 31. In addition, petrale sole and sand sole have been landed by some fortunate anglers. In addition to Newport and Pacific City, anglers have also been having some success for nearshore halibut out of Garibaldi.

The summer all-depth fishery is scheduled to open Friday, Aug. 4, 2017, and every other Friday-Saturday until the quota is caught or Oct. 31.

Note that when both the nearshore and all-depth halibut fisheries are open on the same day (e.g. Aug 4-5), groundfish retention regulations for the all-depth fishery apply to all halibut anglers, regardless of where fishing occurs. Only Pacific cod, sablefish, and other species of flatfish (flounders, soles, sanddabs, and halibut other than Pacific; does not include skates and rays) may be retained when halibut are onboard the vessel.

Southern Oregon Subarea (Humbug Mt. to the OR/CA Border): Opened May 1, seven days per week until the quota is caught or Oct 31.

Shore and Estuary Fishing

When jigging for herring in Yaquina Bay, anglers sometimes inadvertently catch juvenile coho salmon, or smolts. Although they look a bit like herring, smolts cannot be legally kept. Smolt ID tips (pdf).

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 (see section above on bottomfish for new bag and sub-bag limits for 2017). Rocky ocean coastline and jetties provide the ideal habitat for greenling, rockfish, cabezon (which opened July 1, 2017), 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 lingcod 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
Surfperch fishing near Coos Bay
-Photo courtesy of Jim Muck-


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.


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 July 14.

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.


Mussels remain closed from Tillamook Head (just north of Cannon Beach) to Cascade Head (just north of Lincoln City) due to high levels of Paralytic Shellfish Toxins. Rock jetty structures at nearly every port in Oregon support harvestable populations of mussels.

Razor Clams

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

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.

Clamming has been excellent in Coos Bay with many limits of Gapers and butters being checked by creel sample. Clam Island produces many limits for those with a boat to gain access. The Charleston Flats off of Roosevelt Road has also been good for clamming by foot access.

Dungeness Crab

Noah loves crabbing
-Photo by Wade Campbell-


Ocean and bay crabbing is open coastwide. Newly molted, larger crab are being caught in the ocean and many bays. Some of these crab have hardened up a bit while others are fairly soft and have less meat in them. These crab will fill in and harden up through the summer and should be very high quality crab by September. Catches are increasing everywhere up and down the coast.

Crabbing in Coos Bay has been good with a mixture of hard shell and some softer ones mixed in. Most let the softer shell catches go and retain the good hard shell ones. Barnacles growing on the carapace are a good quick indicator of a crab full of meat. A clean shell with no barnacles or blemishes should be checked with a soft squeeze of a leg to see if the crab shell is soft or hard. Dock crabbing has been good at times but most full limits have been reported from folks with a boat to access the good spots in the Coos Estuary.

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 Marine Zone Wildlife Viewing

Gray whales are always a treat to see and can often be spotted off the central and south coasts. It is common for gray whales to migrate to and from summer feeding grounds in the Bering Sea, passing by the Oregon coast. In addition, there is a summer resident group that hangs out in the Depoe Bay area most of the summer. They are often visible from the sidewalk right in Depoe Bay, as well as just north of town from the Boiler Bay State Scenic Viewpoint and to the south of town at Rocky Creek State Scenic Viewpoint, Devil’s Punchbowl, and even as far as Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area just north of Newport.

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

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!

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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