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Weekly Recreation Report: Marine Zone


August 27, 2014

 Marine Zone Fishing

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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:


As always, access to the albacore is highly dependent on weather and ocean conditions. This past week, catch rates dropped, but overall the fishing is still fair to good from Astoria south to Newport with average catch rates of 3-4.25 albacore per angler. Catch rates from Winchester Bay south were fair at less than 2.0 albacore per angler trip. Many of the albacore being landed have been larger fish in the 25-35 lb. range. Some central coast anglers reported tuna around 30-35 miles offshore.

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.

A report was received of a dorado (mahi-mahi) caught on a tuna charter trip last week. These beautiful (and tasty) fish are typically found in warmer areas and only occasionally landed in Oregon waters.

Huge Halibut
A nice halibut
-Photo by Matt Frank -

Pacific Halibut

The summer all-depth Pacific halibut season in the Columbia River Subarea (from Leadbetter Point to Cape Falcon) is open Thursday-Sunday until the quota is reached or Sept. 30. Seventy-four percent of the summer quota remains.

The Columbia River Subarea is open inside the 40-fathom line on days when the all-depth halibut fishery is closed (Monday through Wednesday). Through August 17, 88 percent of the nearshore quota remains.

The Central Coast Subarea (Cape Falcon to Humbug Mountain) nearshore Pacific halibut season (inside the 40-fathom line) is open seven days a week until the quota is taken or Oct. 31. Through Aug. 17, 49 percent of the quota remains for this fishery.

The summer all-depth Pacific halibut season between Cape Falcon and Humbug Mountain closed following the Aug. 15-16 opening. 

From Humbug Mountain to the Oregon-California border, Pacific halibut fishing is open seven days per week until the quota is reached or Oct. 31.

A complete map of the sport halibut regulations for 2014 is available on the sport halibut web page.

Bottom Fishing

Fishing for bottomfish has been slow to moderate coast-wide when weather permits. Lingcod catches have picked up a bit, while success with rockfish has remained spotty.

The ocean outside of the 30-fathom curve (defined by coordinates) is closed to bottom fishing through Sept. 30. The marine fish daily bag limit is seven fish, including one cabezon during the cabezon season from July 1 until the quota is reached. 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'

Ocean Fishing
Ocean Fishing
-Photo by Jessica Sall-

Ocean Salmon

Fishing off the Columbia River continued to be very good for fin-clipped coho salmon this last week with better than 1.5 salmon per angler. Anglers are reminded that in this area only one Chinook may be retained within the two salmon bag limit.

South of Cape Falcon, retention of coho salmon is prohibited until the non-selective season opens on Saturday, Aug. 30 for ports from Garibaldi to Port Orford. Anglers are reminded to be sure of the correct identification of their salmon. During the recent week, we had a number of anglers that have incorrectly identified coho as Chinook. The most reliable identification feature is the lower gum line as described in the regulation book on page 19. The following features should NOT be used to identify salmon because they vary substantially between individuals: spotting, fish size and tongue color.

Chinook fishing was only fair along most of the coast this past week with catches running 0.25 Chinook per angler or less in most ports.


Razor Clam
Razor Clams
-Oregon Fish and Wildlife-

Razor clams

The annual razor clam conservation closure for Clatsop beaches started on July 15. Since 1967 ODFW has closed the 18 miles of beach north of Tillamook Head so that young clams can establish themselves there during the summer. ODFW’s annual razor clam stock assessment survey is underway. Preliminary information indicates that large numbers of small razor clams have entered the population, and adult razor clams should be abundant in 2015. Clatsop beaches will reopen to recreational razor clamming Oct. 1.

Opportunities to razor clam are available elsewhere along Oregon beaches. Cannon Beach, Cape Meares, Agate Beach, Yaquina North Jetty, South Beach (Newport), Bob’s Creek, Bastendorff Beach, Coos Bay North Spit, Bailey Beach and Myers Creek are some of the most consistent. The beaches with the best opportunity are around Newport.

Clammers 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

There are only two more early morning low tide series in 2014; beginning in mid-September, the low tides shift to 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 Bay, Netarts Bay, Siletz Bay, Yaquina Bay, Alsea Bay, Coos Bay and several other locations along the coast.

Recreational shellfish safety status as of Aug. 11:

  • The entire Oregon coast is open to recreational mussel and shellfish harvesting (except razor clams on Clatsop beaches due to the conservation closure).
  • 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.

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 crabbing is still quite good in most Oregon bays and estuaries, with reports of good success in Tillamook Bay, Alsea Bay, and on the south coast. Shellfish biologists report that crabbing is much better this year than last. The best months for bay crabbing in Oregon are August through November. Check out the monthly crabbing report for the most recent data.

Crabbing is also good in the ocean from virtually every port in Oregon. The recreational ocean crabbing season is open through Oct. 15.

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

Brown Pelican
Brown Pelican
-Photo by Kathy Munsel-


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.

Flocks of brown pelicans have already been observed in the Yaquina Head area, and a lot of Heermann’s Gulls are being seen along the coast and offshore, which is early in the season for this species too.

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