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Weekly Recreation Report: Marine Zone


June 30, 2015

 Marine Zone Fishing

Huge Halibut
Matt Blume with his “monster” 106-pound halibut
- Oregon Fish and Wildlife -

Weekend opportunities:

  • The Central Coast (Cape Falcon to Humbug Mt.) nearshore Pacific halibut fishery opens July 1, seven days per week.
  • A fin-clipped coho salmon may be in your future: the ocean season from Cape Falcon to the Calif. border is open.
  • Beat the heat and head to the coast! Take your gear—or book a charter trip—for halibut, bottomfish, or crabbing; and don’t forget the binoculars for some spectacular whale and seabird viewing!

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.

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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.

Chinook Salmon
Chinook Salmon
-Oregon Fish and Wildlife-


Adipose fin-clipped coho salmon seasons are now open in ocean waters along the entire Oregon Coast. Best catches have been in the waters off the Columbia River. Catches along the rest of the coast so far have been only fair, but should improve with better weather this week. 

Ocean recreational fishing is open for Chinook salmon along the entire Oregon coast. 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.

Bag limits (all salmon): two per day, except from Cape Falcon to Leadbetter Point, WA, only one may be a Chinook. 

The Columbia River Control Zone is closed.

Pacific Halibut

The Columbia River Subarea (Cape Falcon to Leadbetter Point, WA) nearshore fishery is open daily until Sept. 30 or the adjusted quota has been met; fishing has been slow. The all-depth Pacific halibut fishery in this subarea is closed for the remainder of 2015.

The nearshore halibut fishery between Cape Falcon and Humbug Mt. opens July 1, seven days per week until the quota is caught or October 31. The nearshore fishery is open inside of a line approximating the 40-fathom depth contour.  Waypoints for the line can be found at:

The Southern Oregon Subarea (Humbug Mt. to the Calif. border) is open daily, but fishing has been slow.

Additional information about the sport halibut fishery.


Albacore tuna have started to show up in the recreational fishery along the coast.  Reports are generally of fish being well offshore, but recent SW winds may bring fish within more reasonable distances for those anglers prepared for the distant water challenges of albacore off Oregon. 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.

Misc Fishing

Redtail and silver surfperch can be caught from ocean beaches throughout the year.

Bottom Fishing

Cabezon opens on July 1, with a 1 fish sub-bag limit. Rockfish catches were good last week, with many anglers catching limits, but lingcod were not quite as cooperative.

REMINDERS: The ocean is open for bottom fishing only inside of the 30-fathom regulatory line (30-fathom waypoints) through Sept. 30.

China Rockfish
China Rockfish
-Photo by Kathy Munsel-

New for 2015. China, copper, and quillback rockfish (in addition to yelloweye rockfish) may not be retained.

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.  Anglers are also reminded that no more than one can be a cabezon (no change from last year).

Although anglers may retain one canary rockfish, there is an annual 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 protruding gut out of 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).

There are separate daily limits for lingcod (2) and flatfish other than Pacific halibut (25). Several handouts – including “What Can I Keep, and How Many?” and species identification tips – are available on the OFDW sport groundfish webpage.


Recreational shellfish safety status, as of June 30:

  • Recreational harvest of mussels and bay clams (but not razor clams) is OPEN from Tillamook Head (south of Seaside) to the California border.
  • Recreational harvest of razor clams is closed along the entire Oregon coast from the Columbia River to the California border due to elevated levels of domoic acid. This closure includes all beaches and bays. Concentrations of domoic acid are reaching levels not seen since 1998, and ODFW shellfish biologists see no possibility that razor clamming will re-open before the annual conservation closure on Clatsop beaches begins on July 15. June 16 news release
  • Recreational harvest of all shellfish is closed from the Columbia River to Tillamook Head (south of Seaside) due to elevated levels of domoic acid in all and paralytic shellfish toxin in mussels. The closure includes beaches, jetties, rocks and bay entrances. Scallops are not affected by closures when only the adductor muscle is eaten.
  • The recent closure of the southern Washington coast to recreational and commercial crab harvest due to elevated domoic acid levels has prompted questions about the safety of crab caught in Oregon. The Oregon Department of Agriculture recently tested Dungeness crab samples from ocean and estuary areas in Oregon and found biotoxin levels below the human health concern threshold. However, consumption of crab viscera (“butter”) is not recommended.
  • Commercial shellfish products remain safe for consumers; samples show no 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. 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
Bay Clams
-Oregon Fish and Wildlife-

Bay clams

A negative tide series will begin next week. and Tillamook Bay are four bays where bay clams, like gaper clams, butter clams and cockles, can be taken if not affected by shellfish safety closures. Recent stock assessments have revealed abundant populations and that current harvest levels are sustainable. See ODFW’s bay clam webpage for more information on where and how to dig, clam ID, etc.

Ocean crabbing is great, and bay crabbing continues to improve. Larger ocean crab off the central coast are molting, and a soft shell indicates the meat will be watery. Smaller crab that have not yet molted – look for barnacles on the shell – are a better option for the crab kettle. Bay and ocean crabbers might run into red rock crab as well as Dungeness crab. Red rock crab is a native species but is not present in all of Oregon’s 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.

Some sport crabbers sometimes 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 Wildlife Viewing

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

It’s a great time of year to see gray whales heading north with their calves. On a calm day, their blows can be easy to spot from a high vantage point on the shore, or take advantage of a whale-watching tour to see – and perhaps even smell – them from sea level.

Yaquina Head is always an outstanding site to look for gray whales from shore.


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 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).

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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