Oregon Central & South Coast Fishing Reports

Charter boats out of Depoe Bay have enjoyed stellar days this week when the weather was pleasant, the ocean fairly calm and plenty of rockfish, crabs and ling cod to go around.

While the ocean has been open for Chinook fishing since March 15th, a second opener, this for fin-clipped coho salmon, is set for June 25th. OK, it ain’t exactly headline-worthy, but the ability to take one, the other or both species increases the odds of success significantly. By 50%, all things being equal, which of course they aren’t. 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 filled. 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. Between the reduced quota and last year’s crummy ocean conditions, hopes are less than sky-high for the majority of ocean anglers. Let’s hope they’re surprised with a great season. Hey, it could happen. Trollers who are on the ocean early in the morning following the opener will find both coho and Chinook in shallow water but Chinook will move deeper as the sun hits the water surface, sometimes quite a bit so as has been the case out of Brookings and Gold Beach this week/.

While it certainly isn’t a fishery that produces every day of the year, herring jigging has remained productive at Yaquina Bay. One jig fisher caught over 300 of ’em (!) from the end of the public pier over the past weekend.

Crabbing is reported as quite good inside Yaquina Bay. Sure, the ocean just outside is producing for those able to make the trip out to 60 or so feet of water but one fellow crabbed off the pier to take all he wanted for himself and his family.

The ocean continues to entertain offshore anglers, even as they’re making the trip out to the fishing grounds and back again. Over the past week, Grey Whales and Orcas have been active, cavorting to the delight of boat passengers from Yaquina Bay to Charleston.

Surf perch show no sign of letting up on their assault of our beaches, searching for food in the form of shrimp (either sand or deli) or small sand worms, preferably camo from a package with the Berkeley Gulp! label on it. It gets better on beaches further south. The bag limit for surfperch is generous at 15 per day.
We don’t usually entertain rumors, but this one is not only harmless but could extend out offshore bottom fishing season. The story goes that the quota on yelloweye rockfish is getting near depletion and most are being caught by halibut fishers out of Newport. If the entire yelloweye quota is taken, it may cause all bottom fishing, even potentially halibut, to close entirely. Alternately, we could be limited to 20 fathom depths rather than 40, as occurred in 2015. Whether true or not, there’s no harm in releasing these fish. Use a descender, a device intended to return them safely to the bottom. Such devices are available at sporting goods stores and the OCEAN organization will give you one. It’s important; ‘floaters’ are counted against the quota.

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. If time allows. try for surf perch at Moolach or Seal Rock.

Although there is insufficient quota remaining for any additional Central Oregon Coast Spring All-Depth fishing, the summer all-depth season opens August 5th and 6th. then every other Friday and Saturday until the quota fills or October 31st, whichever comes first.

The Central Oregon Coast Nearshore halibut season opened June 1 and with 85% remaining in the quota, 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 anglers are fishing.

Tuna results are mostly good from many ports. Fishing was good over the past weekend but slowed Sunday. Today’s numbers (June 23, 2016) indicate an improving trend with nearshore ocean water temperatures rising. This is an exciting time for those involved in this exciting sport. As an exclamation point on that statement, a sport boat out of Depoe Bay picked up 20 albacore out of Depoe Bay on Wednesday this week just over 30 miles out (between the 125 and 127 lines). Last week it was 60 miles.

As the water offshore warms, albacore catches are being reported out of many ports, including Winchester Bay where a well-known guide boat at Odell, the Lucky Duck, went out for his first tuna trip on Wednesday this week to return with something over 35 tuna. That’s rewarding for a tuna newbie, Scott!

Author, publisher, blogger and weekly TGF reports Pete Heley (www.PeteHeley.com) reports,
“Spring halibut season is over for the central Oregon coast subarea and many anglers that fished the first (and last) provisional spring opener last Friday and Saturday took advantage of warm water and good ocean conditions to troll successfully for tuna on the way back to port after halibut fishing. Lots of tuna were caught with the best results occurring south of Winchester Bay and especially west of Charleston – with many tuna taken only 20 miles offshore. Lots of different lures caught fish, but the “Mexican Flag” color pattern seemed to be especially effective. This year’s tuna season is looking especially promising.

“The Umpqua River pinkfin fishery is still going strong and should last through the month of July, but last weekend cooperative fish were tough to find. One angler said he finally found the perch – in the fifteenth spot he fished.

“Here’s a few ways to increase your chances when pursuing these spawning pinkfins. (1) – When first anchoring at a spot, cast to the sides of your boat rather than dropping your baits over the side – because the perch won’t be directly beneath your boat – at least not for several minutes. (2) – Avoid fishing near groups of boats that are not catching perch. They are basically telling you where the fish aren’t – although in rare instances the boats may have enough bait in the water to chum the perch in. (3) – The perch are in almost constant movement and usually when you are catching perch and the bite stops, it’s because the perch have moved, rather than quit biting. – and they usually move in the same direction as the tide is flowing. (4) The perch tend to bite best when there is noticeable tidal current, but fishing in the early morning offers two advantages in that boat traffic has not yet spooked the perch and the wind is not yet a factor.

“Some striped bass are being caught on Smith River and striper carcasses were left in the dumpster at the fish cleaning station at Winchester Bay’s East Boat Basin last week. Don’t expect much striper talk as these anglers tend to be a secretive lot.

“Anglers casting spinners from the bank at Half Moon Bay and Osprey Point are still catching a few salmon each week and fishing success should improve over the next several weeks.
“The ocean fin-clipped coho salmon season opens Saturday with a quota of 26,000 fish. If the Chinook salmon move closer to the surface and become reachable by sport anglers – the ocean salmon fishing could be good. Some Chinook salmon will begin entering the lower Umpqua River on their spawning run in early July.
“Crabbing at Winchester Bay continues to improve with ocean crabbers enjoying the best success, but crabbing at Half Moon Bay is also productive. Crabs are becoming a nuisance to flounder anglers fishing near the RV park in Winchester Bay. Some anglers have discovered that the crab problem can be minimized by slowly, but constantly moving their flounder-intended baits across the bottom.
“I recently read an interesting article in the USA Today newspaper that stated that the annual summertime low-oxygen area in Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay would be normal-sized this year. I thought that sounded pretty good in an era of ever-increasing air and water temperatures – until the last part of the article went on to state that this year’s low-oxygen area would have the same water volume as it would take to fill 2.3 million Olympic-sized swimming pools.”

Albacore hunters launching out of Charleston have been using the word ‘hot’ to describe the tuna bite. While we would not use such inflammatory adjectives, a sport boat returned yesterday (Wednesday this week) with 37 on board which were caught short of the 125 line (<29 miles) while searching for a temperature or color break. No boat reported fewer than 30 tuna on board.|| Charter boats out of Gold Beach limited out over the last all-depth halibut fishery, after which they returned to rock fishing, returning with limits that didn't come easy. Offshore trollers seeking Chinook have been doing fair, those seeking deeper water, somewhat better. Chinook are being hooked over 200 feet of water at depths from 60 to 160 feet using 15-pound downrigger balls. In Rogue Bay, a few fish Chinook are being landed every day, but at this time of year, this is an alternative for when the river is too low and the ocean is too rough. There has been a good showing of large summers in the lower river over the past week which holds promise for steelheaders this weekend. In the lower Rogue, both bank and boat anglers struck out for the most part in the past week. Low, clear water has slowed lower as well as middle Rogue summer ad springer action. A check at the Hatchery Hole mornings this week showed two or three anglers trying, an indication of how slow it is here. Fortunately, the upper Rogue has continued to produce steady fishing for summer steelhead as well as spring Chinook on occasion and will be the go-to stretch over the weekend to come. Pulling plugs has been the most wildly-used technique but your favorite bait or lure is likely to produce here. Results for bottom fish, including ling cod as well as rockfish, have been good out of Brookings Harbor with boats returning laden with mostly limits. Plenty of tuna fishers are launching here but heading north to catch the hot bite offshore west of Charleston and Coos Bay. It doesn’t seem to matter if you use power bait, worms or troll. All are working well. And fish are being found all over the lake. This according to Diamond Lake Resort but folks who have fished there recently are telling TGF that bait is catching twice the numbers that trolling is yielding.