May 24, 2024

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Oregon Coast Fishing Guide: The Complete Guide

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“The People’s Coast” is famous for its scenery, wildlife, and accessibility. All 363 miles of Oregon’s Pacific coastline, from the California border to the Columbia River, are legally open for you to explore. With a fishing rod in hand, the opportunities to do so are endless.

Clambering along rocky jetties, crashing into the surf on a dory boat, or recreating your very own Battlefish expedition… This corner of the Pacific Northwest is like nowhere else. So take a look at what’s on offer and build your own Oregon Coast fishing adventure.

Oregon Coast Fish Species

You can’t help but notice the colonies of seals and sea lions along Oregon’s shoreline. Well, they wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the thriving marine life below the surface of the waves.

The ocean kelp and rocky reefs off Oregon’s coastline are home to an enormous ecosystem, ranging from plankton all the way up to gray whales. Somewhere in the middle of this huge chain of life live all sorts of sport and bottom fish. While the top targets of Tuna, Salmon, and Halibut draw anglers from miles around, there are plenty of other fish to enjoy here, too. Let’s find out more…

Oregon Coast Tuna Fishing

A man in a baseball cap and sunglasses holding a large Tuna aboard a fishing charter on a cloudy day
Photo courtesy of Greylight Salmon Fishing

People have only been Tuna fishing off the Oregon Coast for a few decades, but the fishery has exploded since then. This is partly thanks to faster boats that make light work of the 30+ mile runs to the Tuna fishing grounds. The hit show Battlefish also plays a part, following Oregon Coast Tuna fishing crews as they live and breathe the annual Albacore run. Whatever your reason for coming, this is one fishing experience you won’t want to miss.

The California current pulls bustling schools of frenetic, bullet-fast fish northwards through the Pacific from mid-July through October. As the dark green North Pacific seas turn to aqua blue, a warm water fishery emerges. Opah, Mahi Mahi, and Yellowtail all show up.

But it’s the Albacore Tuna that everyone’s talking about. With very generous bag limits and amazing sportfishing potential, you can see why. Of course, you can never guarantee that you’ll find fish, but we’d say that the potential benefits outweigh the risk!

Oregon Coast Halibut Fishing

A group of four anglers standing on a dock in Astoria, Oregon, holding a large Halibut each with the famous green bridge behind them on a clear day
Photo courtesy of Good Time Charlie Sportfishing

If you’re looking for table fish, not much beats Halibut. These funny-looking deep water monsters make for some of the most sought-after meals in the Pacific Northwest. They can grow to several hundred pounds, but Oregon’s waters mostly hold fish in the 35–75 pound range. Just like Tuna, Halibut fishing off the Oregon Coast involves a boat ride. These fish are usually caught at least 20 miles out.

You can only catch Halibut at certain times off the Oregon Coast, but that makes the open season all the sweeter. Halibut season usually runs from about May through October, but changes every year and may close early depending on how many fish are caught.

Oregon Coast Salmon Fishing

A man in winter gear standing on a fishing charter and holding a large Chinook Salmon aboard a boat in Oregon at sunset on a clear day
Photo courtesy of Caleb’s Guide Service – Astoria

With all this talk of Tuna and Halibut, you can almost forget that the Pacific Northwest’s staple fish – Salmon – swims the entire Oregon coastline. Buoy 10 is one of the most famous Salmon fishing spots in the world – just off Astoria.

World-class Salmon fishing continues as you travel south. Chinook (King) and Coho (Silver) Salmon are the most popular targets, but Pink, Chum, and Sockeye Salmon also show up as they travel between the ocean and Oregon’s inland waterways.

Chinook are the largest of the five Pacific Salmon species. Feeder “Springers” start arriving at their native rivers from about March to June, while huge “Kings” are more common from September. And while Coho don’t reach the size of their Chinook cousins, they’re just as tasty and possibly even more fun to catch. The best time to fish for these is in July and August.

What else?

A man in a baseball cap with the shade covering his face standing aboard a fishing charter and holding a colorful Lingcod against a background of blue skies and blue waters
Photo courtesy of Caleb’s Guide Service – Depoe Bay

Whether you’re fishing the jetties or Oregon’s deeper coastal waters, the seafloor is always a good place to start. Several species of Rockfish, as well as Lingcod and Cabezon, thrive around here. Flatfish like Flounders, Turbots, and Soles peer eerily up from the seafloor, while Dungeness Crabs make their way into traps with pleasing regularity.

Closer to shore, Surfperch give anglers a run for their money all year round, while Green and White Sturgeon bring a piece of history to Oregon’s rivers. Steelhead join in the migration between salt and freshwater, while inland, an extensive stocking program adds Brook, Tiger, Brown, and Rainbow Trout to the thriving freshwater fishery. Speaking of which, this also features several species of Bass, including Largemouth and the delicious east coast import – Striped Bass. There’s no shortage of fish, that’s for sure!

How to Fish the Oregon Coast

With all this variety of fish, it can be hard to know where to start. Luckily, the entire Oregon coastline is home to professional fishing guides who can help you explore the fresh and salt waterways. You can also try your luck on your own! Here’s how to make the most of your time here.

Fishing Charters

a view from behind of three anglers casting their line off the deck of a boat in Oregon with tree-lined shores visible ahead of them on a sunny day
Photo courtesy of 2 Net Fishing Guide LLC – Portland

Oregon Coast fishing charters take the abundance of the local fishery and package it neatly for visitors and locals alike. Deep sea fishing trips run from Astoria to Brookings, introducing private groups and individuals to Oregon’s famous Tuna and Halibut fisheries. These same operators often also offer shorter, family-friendly bottom fishing charters that target tempting table fare.

Local knowledge is crucial for navigating Oregon’s choppy waters and rocky coastline, and that’s what the area’s fishing captains are here for. Just make sure to bring plenty of layers and seasickness medication!

Guided fishing doesn’t stop at the beaches. Salmon, Sturgeon, and Steelhead are just at home in rivers as they are in the ocean, and you can find a guide for every part of their migratory journey. There’s no substitute for years of experience here, too. Oregon’s fishing guides know the local waterways intimately and can turn a slow day of fishing into an enjoyable day of catching.

Surf Fishing

A view from behind of a silhouette of a man fishing off the cliffs of the Oregon Coast at sunset on a day with sunny intervals

Rather keep your feet on the ground? There are almost limitless opportunities for surf fishing on the Oregon Coast. Depending on your target and appetite for adventure, this can involve scrambling over the jetties or casting from the beaches.

Beach fishing is all about the Surfperch. Entertaining to catch, they cook up nicely, too. The most popular time to target them is in spring and summer, when they gather close to the beaches in large numbers.

Jetty fishing gives you access to a much wider range of species, but should be treated with respect. Stretching into deeper waters, Oregon’s jetties create an artificial reef habitat. This attracts all sorts of fish. Lingcod, Rockfish, and Cabezon are all possible here, as are the occasional Salmon and even Halibut.

The further out you go, the higher your chances of catching these deeper water species, but watch your footing. Jetties can be slippery and don’t have much to hold on to. Wear non-slip shoes, swap waders for a personal floatation device, and only go out in calm weather.

Fly Fishing

A view from behind of an angler on the front of a fishing boat on a river near Oregon's coast, casting a fly fishing line from behind his head while covered in the shade of the riverside trees on a clear day
Photo courtesy of Riverside Fly Fishing and Scenic Tours

Given the sheer number of rivers in Oregon – and the Salmonids that travel up them every year – it’s no surprise that there’s plenty for fly fishers here. The list of places to cast a fly isn’t restricted to freshwater. Fly fishing off the jetties is getting more popular and offers a fun challenge outside of the Steelhead and Salmon fishing seasons.

Kayak Fishing

Want to add a new perspective to fishing around the Oregon Coast? Try kayak fishing. This burgeoning sport can be as challenging as you make it. Peacefully casting around state parks or heading offshore for Lingcod, Cabezon, or even Halibut… Experiences range from pure relaxation all the way to the ultimate adrenaline rush. We’re not going to lie – we’d go for the former and save our offshore appetite for a nice, solid charter boat!

Oregon Coast Fishing Spots

The Beaver State holds exceptional fishing all along its coastline. Here, we’ll walk you through our favorite destinations, section by section.

The North Coast

A view from a hill towards the town of Astoria and the blue waters of the bay running through it, with the city's iconic bridge visible in the distance on a clear day

From the Columbia River to Cascade Head, Oregon’s North Coast is home to historic settlements, shipwrecks, and sweeping sandy beaches. Whether you’re looking for the hustle and bustle of the city or a solitary slice of coastline, you’ll find your place here. And it’s just as easy to find somewhere to fish. Here are our favorites:

  • Astoria. The oldest settlement west of the Rockies, Astoria has long been the stopping point for ships going in and out of the Columbia River. Now, it’s the legendary starting point for Buoy 10 Salmon fishing trips. This iconic Salmon fishery is hottest in the fall, but Astoria’s position between the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean makes it a year-round fishing destination in salt and freshwater.
  • Tillamook Bay. Oregon’s second-largest bay gives Astoria’s Salmon fishing a run for its money. With five rivers feeding directly into the bay, it attracts hundreds of fish before they migrate upstream. Bay-facing Garibaldi and Tillamook offer bigger-than-average Spring Chinooks, huge King Salmon, tackle-busting Winter Steelhead, and even Sturgeon. On the ocean side of the bay, Barview Jetty shelters impressive Lingcod and other tasty saltwater species.
  • Pacific City. Nothing says “Oregon Coast fishing” more evocatively than a dory boat speeding towards Haystack Rock. Pacific City’s Cape Kiwanda is home to Oregon’s dory boat fleet, continuing a tradition that’s over 100 years old. These open-hulled, flat-bottomed boats are perfect for catching Lingcod and Salmon, or for watching whales as they peacefully travel up the coastline.

The Central Coast

You can’t beat the shoreline between Cascade Head and Reedsport for dramatic ocean views. Oregon’s Central Coast’s cliff faces and terraces give way to busy port cities and ocean bays. Salmon fishing continues to be strong here, as does deep sea ocean fishing – particularly in these spots:

  • Depoe Bay. “The World’s Smallest Harbor” is the starting point for big deep sea fishing adventures. The surrounding waters are synonymous locally with Rockfish, but also promise Halibut, Tuna, Salmon, and Crab.
  • Newport. Sandwiched between Yaquina Bay and the open ocean, it’s no wonder that Newport is one of the most popular fishing spots in Oregon. While the bay offers fantastic Salmon fishing, the local fleet focuses on larger fare offshore. Halibut, Tuna, and Rockfish are all common targets out of this bustling port. Newport’s South Jetty is also a popular spot for shore-based anglers ready to scramble over the rocks.

The South Coast

An aerial view of Brookings on the Oregon Coast, with turquoise waters visible in the foreground and a couple of jetties visible in the middle of the image, creating an inlet for fishing boats

Travel south from Reedsport, and the cliffs of the central coast give way to miles of beaches. From mountainous scenery to the Oregon Dunes, it doesn’t get better than Oregon’s southern coastline for fishing in stunning surroundings. Don’t miss:

  • Coos Bay: The meeting point of the Coos River and the open ocean is one of the best places for Tuna fishing on the Oregon Coast. Charleston is home to a thriving Albacore Tuna fleet. Meanwhile, the Coos River Basin is a great place for Steelhead fishing in the fall.
  • Brookings. While the North Coast is dotted with famous Salmon fishing spots, it’s actually the state’s far south that lands the highest number of these tasty fish. The town’s own Chetco River adds to numerous other Salmon spawning areas that entice Salmon to stage off Brookings’s coast. The relatively calm offshore waters are also fairly close to the Albacore fishing grounds, while the nearby Point St. George Reef Lighthouse is a great place to target groundfish.

Oregon Coast Fishing Regulations

An infographic featuring the flag of Oregon along with text that says "Oregon Coast Fishing Regulations What You Need to Know" against a dark blue background with a vector of a boat and the FishingBooker logo

Everyone over the age of 11 needs to buy a valid Oregon Angling License, but people aged 12–17 can get a Youth License at a reduced rate. If you’re fishing for Salmon, Steelhead, or Sturgeon, you’ll also need a Combined Angling Tag – this also stands if you’re just planning to catch and release these fish. Anyone fishing for Salmon or Steelhead in the Columbia River Basin needs a Columbia River Basin Endorsement. You can purchase daily or multiday licenses that include these tags.

Many species are subject to seasonal openings and catch limits. Refer to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to find out more, or get in touch with your fishing guide.

Find your Perfect Fishing Spot on the People’s Coast

A view across the water towards a bridge in Gold Beach, Oregon, after sunset, with the last light of the sun visible in the distance on a clear evening
Photo courtesy of Reel Oregon Adventures – Gold Beach

Wherever you are on the Oregon Coast, it’s hard to ignore the ocean. Fresh fish fills the menus of local restaurants and street food eateries. Quaint harbors tinkle with the sound of moored fishing vessels. And scenic views off the coastline’s beaches and cliffs almost always include a small boat heading out into the waves. Try your hand at fishing the Oregon Coast, and it could be you on that boat. With Tuna, Salmon, Halibut, and Rockfish all beaconing, there’s no better place to get on the water.

What’s your favorite Oregon Coast fishing spot? Do you rate Salmon or Halibut more to catch and eat? Let us know in the comments below!

The post Oregon Coast Fishing: The Complete Guide appeared first on FishingBooker Blog.

By: Cat
Title: Oregon Coast Fishing: The Complete Guide
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Published Date: Mon, 09 Oct 2023 13:53:03 +0000

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