Marine Zone Fishing
-Oregon Fish and Wildlife-
- Put on a headlight and dig for bay clams during negative tides taking place in the evenings through Sunday.
- Take some binoculars and a copy of the bird list from Oregon Coast Birding and see how many species you can check off.
- The Elk River Fall Chinook bubble fishery is open through Nov. 30.
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).
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.
With the exception of the Elk River Fall Chinook bubble fishery, open through Nov. 30, ocean salmon fishing is closed.
|A Nice Lingcod
-Photo by Matt Frank-
The ocean is open to bottom fishing at all depths.
The ocean settled down enough for smaller boats to get out on Saturday and Sunday. Anglers brought in large cabezon, some limits of rockfish, and one or two lingcod each on the central coast.
If you’re lucky enough to catch a colorful assortment of fish, keep in mind that these species of rockfish are prohibited: China, copper, quillback and yelloweye. Several handouts, including “What Can I Keep, and How Many?” are available at Sport Groundfish.
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 website (then scroll to bottom) 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.
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 cannot reopen until two consecutive tests indicate toxin levels are safe.
Recreational shellfish safety status, as of Nov. 23, in addition to the coast-wide razor clam closure:
- Crab. The Oregon Dept. of Agriculture and ODFW announced a crabbing closure from Heceta Head (north of Florence) to the Calif. border in the ocean and in all bays and estuaries due to high levels of domoic acid. Crab caught north of Heceta Head are not affected by this closure. However, ODA recommends always eviscerating crab before cooking them and avoiding consumption of crab guts, also known as crab butter.
- 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.
- Commercial shellfish products sold in restaurants and retail markets 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 website.
Check out the recreational shellfish pages on the ODFW website for everything you need to know about identifying and harvesting Oregon’s clams, including maps of individual estuaries that show where to crab and clam.
For those who don’t mind clamming in the dark, we will have minus tides during the evenings this week and again in December. Take a headlight or flashlight and have fun. Otherwise, during the day, several clam species can be found even when low tides aren’t so low: purple varnish clams above +1.0, and cockles and gapers up to +1.0.
In bays that are not closed due to domoic acid, crabbing can be good, depending on local conditions, and should remain so through December. Crabbers in Yaquina Bay had limits of Dungeness last weekend plus some large red rock crab.
In addition to the health closure south of Heceta Head due to domoic acid, the ocean north of Heceta Head is closed to Dungeness crabbing because of the annual seasonal closure scheduled through Nov. 30. The re-opening of recreational crabbing in the ocean north of Heceta Head will be decided pending results of additional domoic acid tests. Ocean waters south of Heceta Head will definitely not open on Dec. 1. ODA is continuing to periodically sample crab along the entire Oregon coast and will report new results when available.
Bay and ocean crabbers might run into red rock crab 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 and Yaquina 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
El Niño may be responsible for yet another unusual whale incident in Oregon. A blue whale was found washed up on the beach near Gold Beach two weeks ago. Back in September, several humpback whales were seen swimming in the Columbia River. Humpbacks and blue whales typically swim far off the coast of Oregon, but the warm water of El Niño may be depleting the whales’ offshore food supply. As a result, whales may come closer to shore looking for food, or they may grow weak and succumb to illness or predation.
Shorebirds are heading south for 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. Species like scoters and buffleheads will winter along the coast. 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.
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 Simpson Reef Overlook, just south of Charleston, see thousands of marine mammals.
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