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Weekly Recreation Report: Marine Zone


July 26, 2016

 Marine Zone Fishing

Reminder: Razor clamming is closed from the Columbia River to Tillamook Head July 15-September 30. This is an annual closure to reduce disturbance of young razor clams.

Ocean Fishing
Ocean Fishing
-Photo by Jessica Sall-

 2017 Opportunities

Let us hear from you. ODFW is seeking input for shaping the 2017 Pacific halibut and bottomfish seasons. Topics will include possibly adjusting the Central Coast Subarea all-depth halibut seasons to reduce yelloweye rockfish mortality, and options to stay under a lower federal limit for black rockfish in 2017. Anglers are encouraged to participate in the process by attending one of four public meetings: Aug. 1 in Brookings, Aug. 2 in Coos Bay, Aug. 3 in Salem, and Aug. 15 in Newport. The Newport meeting will be available by webinar. News release

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

Rock Greenling
Rock Greenling
-Photo by Joshua Carpenter-

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 Salmon

The best ocean salmon fishing during the most recent week for both fin-clipped coho and Chinook was in waters off the Columbia River.  Average catch per angler was 0.64 salmon per rod with a 4:1 Chinook to coho catch ratio.

The remainder of the coast saw very poor success rates for Chinook with only 1 Chinook for about every 27 angler trips.  Fishing for fin-clipped coho also slowed down in most ports last week.  For the week of July 18-24, observed catches south of Cape Falcon averaged 0.12 coho per angler.

Typically, the best ocean fin-clipped coho fishing for most of the coast will occur within the next 2 weeks.  The fin-clipped coho season from Cape Falcon to the Oregon / California Border will close on August 7.  All salmon fishing from Humbug Mt. (Port Orford to the Oregon / California Border will close on August 7, but will reopen for the three day Labor Day weekend from September 3-5.

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

Bottom Fishing

The recreational groundfish fishery on the Oregon coast is closed outside the 20-fathom management line in order to protect yelloweye rockfish, which are more common in deeper waters. The 20-fathom line (pdf) is defined by waypoints. For visual reference, see port-specific maps that show various management lines. Sport halibut fisheries remain unchanged. ODFW encourages anglers to release all prohibited rockfish by using 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. For more information, please see the ODFW news release.  

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 anglers? 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.

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.

Shore and Estuary Angling

There are many fishing opportunities for shore anglers along the Yaquina Bay in Newport. Anglers along the Yaquina South Jetty reported catching black and grass rockfish, kelp greenling, cabezon, striped surfperch, monkeyface prickleback, and red rock crab. American shad, cabezon, redrock and Dungeness crab were caught at the South Beach Pier and along the public piers in Newport’s Historic Bayfront.

Anglers fishing in the Yaquina Bay by boat reported catching a mixture of American shad, Pacific herring, and shiner perch.

Continuing this week, a subsample of Oregon fishing license holders will be asked to participate in a survey to collect information about their recreational saltwater fishing experiences. Those that are contacted are encouraged to participate. All responses are important, even if you have not been saltwater fishing in the last 12 months. Information from this study will be used to improve the monitoring of Oregon’s fishing activity and improve the stewardship of marine resources.  The survey is funded by Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission and NOAA’s Marine Recreational Information Program.

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

Pacific Halibut

The all-depth halibut fishery in the Central Coast subarea (Cape Falcon to Humbug Mt)  will be open Aug. 5-6; whether or not there will be additional open days will depend on how much quota remains. The nearshore halibut fishery in the subarea remains open seven days a week, with approximately 59% of the quota remaining. The nearshore catch rate last week was down a bit (one fish per 10 halibut anglers), but the average weight remains fairly hefty at 21 pounds.

The Southern Oregon subarea is open seven days per week until Oct. 31 or the quota is met; 88% of the quota remains. Anglers were rewarded with halibut averaging 27 pounds, the largest yet this season, during the week ending July 17.

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

Anglers are reminded to try to avoid high-relief rocky areas where yelloweye rockfish can be encountered. If a yelloweye rockfish is accidentally caught, please descend the fish to 100 feet or more. 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, including weekly catch estimates, is available on the ODFW sport halibut webpage.


The 2016 season for albacore tuna started earlier than average, and it is already looking to be a very good season.  This last week, observed albacore catches were good along the entire Oregon Coast.  This fishery is almost exclusively outside of 20 miles of shore with most recreational boats fishing between 30 and 50 miles away from port.

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


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. 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.


Yaquina Bay anglers are catching Pacific herring, American shad, and jack mackerel. When pursuing herring, keep an eye out for schools of fish at high tide over mudflats. Herring are food for osprey, belted kingfisher, and great blue heron.


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 June 27.

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).


Mussels are Open along the entire Oregon coast.

Razor Clams

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

Razor clamming will be Closed from the Columbia River to Tillamook Head July 15-September 30. This is an annual closure to reduce disturbance of young razor clams.

Razor clamming is Open from Tillamook Head to the north jetty of the Siuslaw River.

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. There will not be much opportunity for digging bay clams this week but the following week will have low tides great for clamming.

Crabbing is open coastwide in bays and the ocean. Ocean crabbing has improved in the last couple of weeks. Crabbing in the bays has been slow. Some boats in Alsea Bay have been getting 4-6 crabs per person when conditions are right. Crabbing reports from Winchester Bay and Bandon have not been great. Coos Bay crabbing is slower than usual.

Many crab have molted recently, making them temporarily soft on the outside and watery on the inside. Until the shells harden, the amount of meat extracted from a soft crab can be as little as half that of a crab in good condition, and the quality of the meat is usually stringy and less tasty. The best practice is to carefully return soft crab to the water.

red rock vs pacific rock

Red and Pacific rock crabs
-Photo by ODFW-

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

Whale watching
Whale watching
- Photo by Bob Swingle, ODFW-

Whale watching off of Depoe Bay has been outstanding. While it is common to view whales off the coast this time of year, this past week has been especially good. Grey whales to migrate to summer feeding grounds in the Bering Sea, and some remain along the Oregon coast through the summer. 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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