Feds hatch plan to make you go fishing

Fishermen have been getting hot halibut action in the deep.

If you thought fishing was a retreat from the crush of prying eyes, data collection, enthusiastic policymakers and more questions, think again.

Federal officials announced this week they want to be your new saltwater fishing buddy in a far-reaching program to bolster the nation’s $3 billion deep-sea recreational fishery.

Promising to work closely with sport anglers, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) plans to “engage recreational fishermen where they live and fish,” which means it could get mighty crowded in your Boston Whaler.

“Engaging the recreational fishing community on the ground and online is the best way to disseminate information,” argued NOAA spokesman Tim Sartwell, who asserted “a thriving partnership” with anglers results in “innovative science and management, economic vitality and sustainable fisheries.”

Sartwell said anglers will learn more about the program as NOAA reserves booths at expos such as the Salem Saltwater Sportsmen’s Show, NOAA Day at the Aquarium and the Pacific Northwest Sportsmen’s Show in Portland. One of the goals is to improve understanding and confidence in the science and management that supports fisheries.

CUTTHROAT TROUT

Trout fishing in the local rivers and streams opened May 22, with a feisty population of resident cutthroat trout as the main target of anglers. These fish are scrappy fighters and are great fun to catch on light tackle, such as barbless, micro-Rooster Tails or other colorful and shiny lures launched from the shortest possible rod to avoid entanglements with overhead cover.

SUMER STEELIES

Early summer steelhead are being caught on the Siletz, Nestucca and Wilson rivers. Look for this fishery to improve through May and peak in June and July.

LAKE FISHING

After a couple of weeks of warmer weather, fishing for bass and other warmwater species has really picked up. Many lakes on the north and mid-coast, including Devils Lake in Lincoln City, Olalla Reservoir north of Toledo and the big Newport reservoirs north of town, offer great warmwater fishing.

Successful catches have also been around the Florence area including Siltcoos, Tahkenitch, Mercer, and Munsel lakes.

In the last couple of weeks, thousands for rainbow trout have been stocked in areas throughout the Northwest fishing zone. Lots of those fish are still around and trout fishing should be good.

HALIBUT

The central coast Pacific halibut “sub-area” from Cape Falcon to Humbug Mt., with Depoe Bay and Newport in the epicenter of the action will be hopping this weekend during the final open dates for deep-sea flatfish, June 6-8. There’s still time as you read this to call your favorite charter shop for a Saturday seat to Stonewall Banks or some other hole full of barn door halibut. If the quota of 239,001 lbs. is not achieved by Saturday, backup dates for all-depth fishing will continue June 20-22.

CHINOOK SALMON

Chinook salmon season opened off the central coast March 15 and continues through Oct. 31, with a minimum size of 24 inches. The fin-clipped Coho salmon season is open June 22 to Aug. 25, with a two-fish per day limit and a 16-in. minimum size.

ROCKFISH

One of the reasons rockfishing appears so great in 2019 is that anglers are now allowed to fish out to the 40-fathom line instead of the 30-fathom marker, which opens up thousands of square miles of fishing grounds off the Oregon coast. The bag is five fish, plus two lingcod.

The countdown to cabezon is underway, with the open date set for July 1.

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