ODFW Recreation Report: March 20


All hunter education classes/field days, skills workshops, volunteer trainings, Family Fishing events and other volunteer-led activities are canceled until at least April 13.  

All ODFW state-owned hatcheries are closed to public access and visitors. Trout stocking in lakes and ponds will continue for now.

Fishing has not been canceled, and with some good weather and liberal trout stocking, there’s no reason to postpone either.

It will be a good week for trout anglers in most fishing zones, as dozens of water bodies are scheduled to be stocked this week.

If you’re spending time at the coast, both surfperch and bay clamming should be good.

Weekend fishing  opportunities

Alsea River: winter steelhead.

Winter steelhead fishing has slowed down on all sections of the Alsea River. Low water has made for tough conditions throughout the system resulting in slower fishing.

The later-returning hatchery fish will continue to move in through the month of March and provide opportunities to catch a steelhead. Until we get some rain, the lower portions of the river will be the best chance for success.

Reminder: No overnight camping is allowed in vehicles around the North Fork Alsea hatchery in the parking lot or on any of the roads.

The Alsea River receives two different stocks of hatchery steelhead, one “traditional” stock that is an early returner and peaks in December/January and a later returning wild broodstock that peaks January-March. These two stocks combine to provide winter steelhead fishing opportunities from late November through March. 

Trout fishing in streams will reopen on May 22.

Salmon River: winter steelhead.

Winter steelhead fishing is open on the Salmon River. The majority of the winter steelhead on the Salmon River are wild and the run usually peaks around mid-December through February.

Siletz River: winter steelhead.

Winter steelhead fishing has slowed down on the Siletz River as of late. The low clear water has made for tougher conditions and the fishing has slowed. Expect more of the same until we get some more rain. Anglers are still catching fish throughout the system with a mix of hatchery and wild fish.

Remember to keep wild fish in the water and release immediately after landing to minimize negative impacts to these fish. Winter steelhead typically start to how up in December and peak January through March.

The 4.0 Mile Bridge (aka Steel Bridge) in the Siletz gorge is open to motorized vehicles, but is only open to public vehicles on the weekend. Anglers can walk/bike in the road during the weekdays. If anglers do walk in they can park at the one mile gate and start from there.

Siuslaw River: winter steelhead.

Winter steelhead fishing has slowed down on the Siuslaw system, as well. The river is low and clear, making the conditions tougher for catching steelhead. Anglers are still catching fish around the Whitaker Creek area, and things should improve when we get another shot of rain.

Lake Creek opened for winter steelhead fishing on Dec. 1. Fishing has been fair so far on Lake Creek and there are fish out there to be caught through the month of March.

Yaquina River: winter steelhead.

Winter steelhead is open on the Yaquina and Big Elk systems for the season. January through March is the typical peak for winter steelhead in the Yaquina/Big Elk.

Pacific Ocean and beaches: bottomfish, salmon, halibut, surfperch.

Bottomfishing is now open to fish at all depths. Fishing for lingcod has been good when anglers can get out on the ocean. The daily bag limit for marine fish is five, of which only one can be a copper, quillback or China rockfish. Anglers are also allowed two lingcod per day. The harvest of cabezon will not open until July 1.

Anglers are also allowed two lingcod per day. The harvest of cabezon will not open until July 1.

Anglers may also choose to fish the offshore longleader fishery outside of the 40-fathom regulatory line, which is open year round. The longleader fishery has a daily bag limit of 10 fish made of yellowtail, widow, canary, blue, deacon, redstripe, greenstripe, silvergray, chillipepper, and bocaccio rockfish. No other groundfish are allowed, and offshore longleader fishing trips cannot be combined with traditional bottomfish, flatfish or halibut trips. Find information about a longleader setup here.

When conditions are good, surfperch anglers have been catching a few redtail surfperch from the beaches using sand shrimp or Berkley Gulp sand worms. Surfperch anglers fishing near the jetties have been catching a few striped surfperch.    

Both halibut and ocean salmon fishing are now closed.

Crabbing and

clamming

Always check for closures at the ODA Shellfish Safety page before clamming or crabbing. http://ODA.direct/ShellfishClosures

Here are some tips for staying safe while clamming on the beach.

Bay beaches can be a little safer than open ocean beaches.

Always keep an eye on the waves – especially in winter when waves can be higher, or during high surf or sneaker wave advisories.

Have a good light when clamming in the dark. Wind and rain also can limit visibility.

Clam with a buddy – one of you can keep an eye on the waves.

Avoid areas known to have dangerous riptides or undertows — locals are a good source for this information.

Clam an area several times in the daylight before trying it in the dark.

Check conditions — ocean swells, tides, wind, weather — before you go. If it looks too rough, stay home.

Dress for safety: If you wear chest waders, wear a belt so they don’t fill with water if you lose your footing.

Watch for unstable sandbars. Those that form during spring/summer will erode in the winter.

Use life jackets for children and adults who are weak swimmers.

Check for biotoxin closures before clamming (call 1-200-448-2474).

Crabbing

Effective Jan. 1, recreational crabbers must mark all floating surface buoys with a name and other identifying information. See more information in the regulation updates section above. While this rule does not apply to gear tied to docks, piers, jetties or beaches, we recommend marking buoys on any gear that could become derelict or lost.

Central coast crabbing has been fair to moderate with weeks of improved weather and lower rainfall. Some boat crabbers are still getting moderate returns of full crab.

In addition to Dungeness crab, another Oregon native present in some of Oregon’s estuaries is the red rock crab. Look for them in larger bays with jetties and other rocky habitats. Crabbers can retain 24 red rock crabs of any sex or size. There have also been higher numbers of Pacific rock crab in Yaquina Bay.

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