Big winds breathe life into ocean fishing options heading into August

Persistent ocean winds throughout most of July are helping ocean anglers limp into August with their "big three" summer seasons intact along the Oregon coast.

The recreational seasons on bottomfish and fin-clipped coho salmon, as well as the all-depth recreational season on halibut, all appear to have enough room left on their quotas to roll over into August, making for good fishing opportunities for those who scheduled vacations on the back end of summer.

"The numbers look like they're going to keep anglers on the ocean," says Brandon Ford, from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's marine program in Newport.

Few ocean anglers expected the fin-clipped coho season south of Cape Falcon to be open this deep into July, let alone into August. The fishery began June 22 with only a 9,000-fish quota for what amounts to almost the entire Oregon coast. But as of July 20, the catch was estimated at 3,188 fish, or 35.4 percent of the quota, Ford says.

Similarly, 71,380 pounds remain from the spring halibut quota of 159,577 pounds, with the final three days of the spring all-depth season beginning today. Whatever remains in that quota after this weekend's fishing will roll into the summer all-depth season, which begins Aug. 1 and will run every other Friday through Sunday until Oregon's all-depth recreational quota of 212,769 pounds is achieved, Ford says.

Black and blue rockfish catches, which had been on a lightning-fast pace toward the state-imposed quotas for this year, likewise have slowed.

The marine aggregate limit was dropped from six fish per day to five per day in hopes of squeezing through the summer, but the drop in fishable days along most of the coast likely means plenty of poundage left in the quotas to last through the summer.

Northwest winds have pounded coastal ports throughout the past two weeks, leaving Oregon's recreational fleet largely stuck in port.

"Those winds knocked people right off the ocean," Ford says.

Eastern Oregon trappers will see their bobcat limit cut from seven to five next season under a two-year package of regulations on furbearer hunting adopted Friday by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission.

The drop was recommended by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists as a conservation measure triggered by higher trapping pressure from a strong fur market, according to the agency.

The season dates and bag limits will remain the same for other furbearers, including red and gray foxes, marten, muskrat, mink, raccoon and river otter.

Year-round trapping seasons will remain for uncontrolled and non-native animals such as badgers, coyotes, nutria, possums, porcupines, weasels and skunks. Trapping for rare furbearers such as wolverines, fishers, ringtail, kit foxes and sea otters remains closed.

Last year, Oregon had 1,283 licensed trappers.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 776-4470, or e-mail

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