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Weekly Recreation Report: Marine Zone


June 21, 2016

 Marine Zone Fishing

Fishing Boats , Newport

Fishing Boats , Newport
-Photo by Kathy Munsel-

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

Fishing, crabbing, clamming, hunting and gathering seaweed are prohibited at Oregon’s five marine reserves, including the Cape Falcon Marine Reserve and Marine Protected Area (new for 2016). Beach walking, surfing, bird watching, diving and other non-extractive uses continue to be allowed at reserves. See complete details and marine reserve maps (listed north to south):

More information on marine reserves regulations and downloadable GPS coordinates

Want to know more? Subscribe to marine reserves e-news updates.

In addition to marine 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 2016 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations (pages 79-83).

Ocean Fishing
Ocean Fishing
-Photo by Jessica Sall-

Ocean Salmon

Ocean recreational fishing is currently open for Chinook salmon from Cape Falcon to the Oregon/California border. 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 so far this season has been relatively slow. 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.

The ocean recreational fishery for selective Coho (fin-clipped) will open on June 25 and run through the earlier of August 7, 2016 or when the quota of 26,000 marked Coho has been landed. During this season, the bag limit is two salmon per day, and any Coho retained must have a healed adipose fin clip. The minimum size limit for Coho salmon is 16 inches.

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.

Details and more information on ocean salmon seasons are available here.

Bottom Fishing

Bottom fishing was good on both the north and south coasts last week. Anglers out of Garibaldi and Charleston averaged over four fish per angler. Lingcod has dropped off somewhat along the majority of the coast, but Garibaldi anglers averaged one lingcod per angler and Depoe Bay anglers brought in nearly two lings per angler. There were also some lingcod landed on the south coast, averaging 0.5 lingcod per angler at most ports. But on the central coast, Depoe Bay and Garibaldi boasted an average of 1 lingcod per angler. Lingcod move closer to shore in spring to lay large egg masses, which are guarded by males. To catch lingcod, try a white plastic grub on a lead jig head in rocky areas when the tide is not running fast.

Deacon Rockfish
Deacon Rockfish (Sebastes diaconus)
-Photo by ODFW-

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 you? 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.

Just a reminder to anglers: Groundfish (bottomfish) is open only inside of the 30-fathom management line (April through September). Waypoints (pdf):

Port-specific maps showing various management fathom lines

Cabezon retention is prohibited January-June; this is an annual seasonal closure.

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. An underwater video recorded by ODFW researchers shows the dramatic results of recompressing a fish; another video demonstrates various types of descending devices.

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

Pacific Halibut

There will be an update by noon on Friday, June 24 if there is enough quota remaining for any additional Central Oregon Coast Spring All-Depth back-up dates. The summer all-depth season opens Aug. 5-6 every other Friday and Saturday until the quota is caught or Oct. 31, whichever is earlier.

The Central Oregon Coast Nearshore season opened June 1 and is open seven days a week. Reminder that on days when the all-depth season is also open all-depth regulations apply regardless of what depth fishing.

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

The Southern Oregon Subarea opened May 1, seven days per week until Oct. 31 or the quota is met.

Anglers are reminded to try to avoid high relief rocky areas where you may encounter yelloweye rockfish. If a yelloweye rockfish is accidentally caught, please descend the fish back down to at least 100 feet. Descending yelloweye takes a few minutes of your fishing time; however, it is better for the individual fish and fisheries as a whole.

Additional information on the sport halibut fishery is available on the ODFW sport halibut webpage.


Albacore tuna have started to show up in the recreational fishery along the coast, especially in our more southern ports. 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. Tuna was hot in Charleston last week, particularly Friday and Saturday averaging nearly 4 tuna per angler on private tuna trips. But, catch slowed down significantly last Sunday.

Surf Perch Fishing
Silver Surf Perch
Silver Surf Perch
-Photos by Rick Swart, ODFW-


South coast surf perch fishing has dropped off while central coast fishing has been decent around Newport. PHOTOS: a group of anglers fishing in the surf at Nye Beach and caught several Redtail Surfperch and Silver Surfperch. Surfperch anglers have also been reported in Seal Rock and on Moolach Beach. Surfperch are a diverse group of fish that provide a variety of angling opportunities.

Spring is traditionally the time when marine perch species like Pile Perch and Walleye Perch are found in numbers in Oregon estuaries; Striped Seaperch are found year-round in rocky areas like jetties; and ocean surf is the place to find Redtail Surfperch and Silver Perch. For details on how to catch these guys, see 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.


There were reports of a few boats in Yaquina Bay who had quite a bit of luck with Pacific Herring. Keep an eye out for schools of fish on mudflats at high tide. Herring are food for Osprey, Belted Kingfisher, and great blue heron.


  • NOTICE: Razor clams are Closed from the north jetty of the Siuslaw River (in Florence) to the California border due to domoic acid. Razor clamming Open from the Columbia River to the north jetty of the Siuslaw River. The Oregon Department of Agriculture is continuing to test for shellfish toxins. Shellfish safety information
  • Crabs: Open coastwide
  • Mussels: Open from the Columbia River to the OR/CA Border

The Oregon Dept. of Agriculture (ODA) will continue testing for shellfish toxins as ocean conditions allow. An area cannot reopen until two consecutive tests indicate toxin levels are safe. Commercial shellfish products sold in restaurants and retail markets are safe to eat.

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.

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.

A couple of regulations were inadvertently left out of the 2016 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulation booklet. (1) The daily bag limit for shrimp (edible) is 20 lb. in the shell; may be taken by traps, pots or rings. (2) Each digger of razor clams (as with all clams) must have his or her own container, must dig his or her own clams, and may not possess more than one limit of clams while in the digging area (except under an Oregon Disabilities Hunting and Fishing Permit).

Razor Clams

NOTICE: Razor clams are Closed from the north jetty of the Siuslaw River (in Florence) to the California border due to domoic acid. Razor clamming Open from the Columbia River to the north jetty of the Siuslaw River. The Oregon Department of Agriculture is continuing to test for shellfish toxins. Shellfish safety information

The next set of low tides runs this week (June 18 - June 25). Harvesters 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 clam harvesting can be very difficult because the clams tend to show much less in those conditions. When referencing tide tables, Clatsop beach razor clam harvesters should use the tide gauge at the Columbia River entrance.

For the tide series of June 2-10, razor clam harvesting along the Clatsop beaches was again very good. Effort over the low tide series was very high with the ODFW Free Fishing & Shellfishing Weekend taking place during one of the largest low tide series of the season. During this tide series harvest was the best in the area between the Peter Iredale Beach and the Columbia River South Jetty where limits were frequent and overall harvesters had 14.9 clams per person on average.

The Del Rey beaches were also quite productive with an average of 14.3 clams per person while the rest of the beach areas averaged under 14 clams per person. Overall, the average clams per person for the tide series was excellent at just over 14 clams.

Clams harvested were mainly medium clams (4 ½ inches) during the tide series with few larger clams (>5 inches) taken. The larger clams were found in the Sunset beaches and the Peter Iredale beaches. Currently, the entire Clatsop Beach has a very abundant set of 4 ½ inch clams plus another abundant set of 3 ¾ inch clams. Last summer’s stock assessment estimated that there were over 17 million clams on Clatsop Beach.

As encouraging as it is to see this robust population of clams, it can also lead to increased discard issues as some harvesters will be looking for the very large clams that were harvested previous years. Spawning of the larger clams has already begun along the entire stretch of Clatsop Beach, which makes them show less readily. Harvesters should be selective on which shows to dig, choosing only the largest ones. Staff observed discard rates (clams replanted) on the Clatsop beaches this past tide series over 20 percent in many areas. Staff and Oregon State Police troopers have also observed harvesters retaining more than a daily limit when the harvesting is this good. Harvesters are reminded to keep accurate count of the clams they have retained and need to keep the first 15 clams they dig regardless of size or condition as per permanent regulations.


Both razor clamming and bay clamming have been excellent all along the coast. This trend should continue during the low tides this coming week. Check the ODFW Shellfish website for where and when to harvest your favorite bivalves. Updated maps on where to clam

Some recommended areas to go are the Charleston Triangle in Coos Bay for gaper clams and Netarts Bay for butter clams.

red rock vs pacific rock

Red and Pacific rock crabs
-Photo by ODFW-


Ocean crabbing has been good on the south coast, and good on the central coast. Estuary crab catch has been picking up as male crab molt, grow into legal size, and move into estuaries.

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

Killer Whales jumping
Orcas jumping

Orcas were spotted off of Charleston and also in Yaquina Bay. Grey whales have been spotted from shore in Newport and Depoe Bay. May and June are great times to view migrating gray whales off the Oregon coast. Some gray whales make their way up to summer feeding grounds in the Bering Sea, while others are part-time residents and stay off the Oregon coast from June - November.

Quite a few gray whales were spotted last week in the nearshore waters off of Brookings and Port Orford. The best time to view whales is on calm days – as stormy weather tends to make viewing challenging. Look for whales as they surface to blow air, and occasionally flip their talks above the water. Don’t forget to bring binoculars!

Birds like scoters and buffleheads winter along the coast. 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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