OUTDOORS REPORT Olalla rainbows land in Big Creek

Rick Beasley

Global climate change may be delivering benefits to local anglers, who can thank low water levels at Toledo’s Olalla Lake for the boost in trophy rainbows at Newport’s Big Creek Reservoirs.

According to the Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, thousands of fish-factory trout that were scheduled for stocking at Olalla during the week of Feb. 11 will be stocked in the dual reservoirs at Newport, instead. This could mean as many as 4,000 additional hatchery fish — about half of them trophy-sized — for Newport anglers. Sources state that Olalla will get its share of planters when conditions improve.


Meanwhile, winter steelhead fishing has improved on the Alsea near Waldport with the recent rains and rise in river levels. Both bank and boat anglers are catching fish as the river drops back into shape. The numbers of fish captured in the Alsea Hatchery trap continue to be low but more fish should be on their way with the current conditions, according to ODFW.

The Alsea still gets a good amount of the early returning stock that peaks in December and January, as well as a later stock that peaks in February and March. Expect more fish to show up with each rise in the river level from now through April. Bobber fishing with jigs or bait, drift fishing and casting lures are all effective ways to catch these hard-fighting trophies.

Steelhead fishing was good on the Siletz River near Lincoln City over the weekend with dropping river levels. While the fishing slowed a little last week, metalmouths were being caught everyday by both boat and bank anglers. Conditions look good in the coming days and the river should fish well through the weekend and into next week.

Winter steelhead are now present in Big Elk Creek and the Yaquina River at Newport. No hatchery fish are released into the Yaquina, so most fish caught are wild. January through March is the peak for the wild winter steelhead in the here. Bobber fishing, drift fishing and casting lures are what the experts recommend.


Get out your heavy tackle — halibut season is set to open May 9 off the central coast. While the dates have yet to earn final approval, ODFW staff recommendations are seldom rejected. The dates for all-depth spring seasons are tentatively set for May 9-11, May 16-18, May 23-25, May 30-June 1 and June 6-8.  

The near-shore season would open June 1 and run through Oct. 31. The final decision will be rendered April 19 by ODFW.


Bottomfish trips out of Newport last week were limited by unfavorable weather conditions. Still, some hardy anglers reported rockfish catches had improved slightly and that lingcod fishing remained good.

The bottomfish fishery is open at all depths with a General Marine Species bag limit of 5 fish, and a separate lingcod limit of 2 fish. No cabezon may be retained until July 1. The longleader gear fishery outside of the 40-fathom regulatory line is open all year. Catches often consist of a nice grade of yellowtail, widow and canary rockfishes.


Here’s a helpful tip from the experts at ODFW: Given the lower than average abundances of razor clams on popular beaches, harvesters will need to actively pound the sand for razor clams to show. Clammers should plan to be on the harvest area at least two hours before low tide and focus on sections of the beach that show exposed sand bars as these areas could have more clams showing than other areas.


While the central coast is famous for its  Dungeness crab, another Oregon native present in some of Oregon’s estuaries is the red rock crab. Crabbers can retain 24 red rock crabs of any sex or size.

Some crabbers in estuaries may encounter non-native European green crab in their catch this year. While they look similar to Oregon’s native shore crabs, they can be identified by the three prominent bumps between the eyes and 5 spines down the side of the carapace. The daily catch limit for European green crab is 10 crab of any size or sex.

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