Weather this last couple of weeks has prevented most anglers from fishing for bottomfish. Reports from the last week prior to the series of systems moving through indicated that the lingcod bite had slowed somewhat, but many anglers were still able to get their limits. Rockfish fishing had been a lot more hit and miss with anglers spending more time to catch close to their limit. Reminder that as of Sunday, April 1, the bottomfish fishery is restricted to inside of the 30 fathom regulatory line.
The longleader gear fishery outside of the 40 fathom regulatory line has been authorized to continue in April through September. Recent catches from the offshore longleader trips often consist of a nice grade of yellowtail, widow and canary rockfishes. Reminder that the Stonewall Bank Yelloweye Rockfish Conservation Area is closed to all bottomfish trips, including longleader trips.
For additional regulation information, see the Sport Groundfish Seasons webpage.
The Stonewall Bank Yelloweye Rockfish Conservation area, approximately 15 miles west of Newport, is closed to bottomfish (groundfish) and halibut fishing year round.
Vessels fishing for or retaining bottomfish (including flatfish) species are required (1) to have onboard a functioning rockfish descending device, and (2) use it to descend any rockfish released when fishing outside of the 30-fathom regulatory line. For more information and videos, please see the rockfish recompression webpage.
In addition to the descending device rule, ODFW continues to encourage anglers to use a descending device when releasing ANY rockfish with signs of 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. Use 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.
Waypoints (for fathom lines and other restricted areas)
Recreational Pacific halibut fisheries begin opening on May 1. Reminder that similar to the bottomfish fishery listed above, descending devices are mandatory when fishing for or retaining Pacific halibut.
Columbia River Subarea (Leadbetter Point, WA to Cape Falcon, OR)
All-depth season: Opens May 3, every Thursday, Friday, and Sunday. New in 2018 Saturdays are CLOSED. Open until Sept. 30, or quota attainment, whichever is earlier. Quota = 11,182 lbs.
Nearshore season: opens May 7, every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday inside the 40 fathom regulatory line, until Sept. 30 or quota attainment, whichever is earlier. Quota = 500 lbs.
Central Oregon Coast Subarea (Cape Falcon to Humbug Mountain)
Spring all-depth season: Fixed open dates are: May 10-12, May 24-26, Jun 7-9, and June 21-23. If enough quota remains after the fixed dates, available back-up dates are: Jul 5-7 and July 19-21. Quota = 135,742 lbs.
Summer all-depth season: opens Aug. 3-4, every other Friday and Saturday, until Oct. 31 or quota attainment, whichever is earlier. Quota = 53,866 lbs.
Nearshore season: Opens June 1, seven days per week inside of the 40 fathom regulatory line, until Oct. 31 or quota attainment, whichever is earlier. Quota = 25,856 lbs.
Southern Oregon Subarea: opens May 1, seven days per week until Oct. 31 or quota attainment, whichever is earlier. Quota = 8,982 lbs.
Additional information and details can be found on the 2018 Halibut Season map.
Details are available at www.dfw.state.or.us/MRP/salmon/regulations/regindex.asp
SHORE AND ESTUARY FISHING
When fishing from shore or inside estuaries and bays, it is important to check the tide. Many fish that swim into estuaries and bays, including salmon, surfperch, and Pacific herring, tend to come in with the tide. Catch of these species is more likely to occur closer to slack tide. Additionally, the accessibility of some areas can be completely dependent on the tide. Do not allow the incoming tide to become a safety hazard.
The popular Clatsop County beaches are open to razor clamming. Expect to find fewer, but larger, clams.
Spring and summer harvesting can be quite successful. Unlike the fall and winter, low tides are in the morning which allows for better visibility. This along with better weather allows more accessibility to the razor clam harvest areas. Harvesters will still need to monitor storm events and subsequent large surf, greater than 10 feet, as both will reduce success.
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. Harvesters 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.
Bay clamming is open along the entire Oregon Coast from the Columbia River to the California border. Check out the Where to Clam articles for places to find them.
This upcoming month we will see some good negative afternoon/evening tides, providing some daylight for clamming opportunities. Remember to always exercise caution when going out to clam at night.
Always call the ODA shellfish safety hotline at 1-800-448-2474 or ODA shellfish closures website before harvesting for the most current information about shellfish safety closures.
Mussel harvest is open along the entire Oregon coast.
Crabbing in Coos Bay has been moderate within the bay. Dock crabbing has slowed down as has ocean crabbing out of Charleston. Alsea Bay boat crabbing has been good, while dock crabbing in Alsea has been fair to poor and better with longer soak times. Bay crabbing in Yaquina Bay has slowed down for Dungeness crab.