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A Guide to Winter Fishing on the Oregon Coast


cc from commons.wikimedia.org


When it comes to finding the perfect winter fishing destination, the Oregon Coast won't leave anglers disappointed. The mild weather coupled with an abundance of fishing locations and fish make Oregon's coastline a perfect place for winter fishing adventures.

What's the Weather like on the Oregon Coast in Winter?

The average temperatures in the winter on the Oregon Coast are around: high 51° F and low 42° F. Other weather factors include high wind gusts up to 80 mph and the bulk of the annual rainfall of 75" coming down from October to May.

Basically, the wintertime weather on the Oregon Coast is rugged enough to filter out the fair weather visitors, yet mild enough to welcome anglers looking for some of the best fishing in the world without the crowds.

Types of Fish to Catch and Where

Weather is mostly a secondary consideration for anglers visiting the Oregon Coast; their first consideration focuses on the types of fish there are to catch. In this regard, winter fishing in Oregon has much to offer.

Here are the main types of fish anglers will find on the Oregon Coast throughout the year:

  • Winter Steelhead
  • Summer Steelhead
  • Fall and spring Chinook salmon
  • Coho salmon
  • King salmon
  • Trout
  • Sturgeon
  • Striped bass
  • Searun Cutthroat
  • Pacific Halibut
  • Tuna
  • Lingcod

During the winter (December through February) on the Oregon Coast, the main attraction for anglers is the winter steelhead. According to Tillamook Coast Oregon:

"The winter steelhead run starts around Thanksgiving on the North Coast, and is at its peak by mid-winter. Winter steelhead continue to run into early spring, when summer steelhead start arriving to take their place."

Winter steelhead fishing spots are located from the top of Oregon's coast to the bottom; from the Columbia River to Brookings, winter steelhead runs offer anglers plenty of places to throw in their lines.

Winter steelhead are an exciting catch because of their size and how hard they fight, at least according to an article found on Travel Oregon called: "Winter Fishing on the Southern Oregon Coast", written by Eileen Garvin, which explains:

"Winter-run steelhead are the main attraction because of their size and extremely hard fight. They average 8 to 12 pounds, but fish as big as 20 pounds are caught each year. King salmon season runs through December, and they can sometimes top 50 pounds."

One of the best locations along the Oregon Coast for fishing, in general, is Tillamook Bay, which is the second largest bay in Oregon to Coos Bay. The Tillamook Bay area also boasts of having five rivers, two bays, six lakes, and an ocean in its vicinity.

The Tillamook coast is a destination within a destination when it comes to winter fishing on the Oregon Coast. Winter steelhead can be fished from the bays or the major rivers flowing into Tillamook Bay, including:

  • Kilchis River
  • Tillamook River
  • Miami River
  • Wilson River
  • Trask River

Winter steelhead may be the main attraction when it comes to fishing on the Oregon Coast during the winter months, yet there could very well be some Chinook salmon left over from the Fall, or some white sturgeon to be found in places like the Columbia River or Tillamook Bay.

There are also many lakes along the Oregon Coast with rainbow trout and largemouth bass, such as Tahkenitch Lake (just north of Umpqua River), Siltcoos Lake (south of Florence), Lake Lytle (Tillamook area), and more.

cc from flickr.com

Fishing Trip Options

There are many options available when it comes to fishing on the Oregon Coast during the winter. These include:

  • Types of fish trying to catch
  • Types of waterways to fish
  • Types of fishing equipment to use
  • Types of fishing locations and techniques
  • Geographical areas to focus on
  • Solo, group, and/or fishing guide trip
  • Basecamp location

Basically, there are many options available for visitors or residents when it comes to the type of fishing trip they want or need. Beginners may want to hire a fishing guide or charter to learn the ropes; they can ride in a boat with a local guide and learn how to fish, where to fish, when to fish, etc.

Even if an angler was experienced, they may want to hire a fishing guide to learn more about a local area and have the chance to fish from a boat down a river or out in the Pacific Ocean.

Then, there are the types of fishing techniques to use, such as: fly fishing, trolling, shore fishing, drift boat fishing, dock fishing, etc.

Whether or not anglers are bringing a boat, family, fishing buddy, or any experience, they'll find the Oregon Coast provides plenty of options when it comes to planning a fishing trip. And, for anglers willing to endure the mild winter, the Oregon Coast offers world-class fishing without the crowds.

Columbia River Gorge cc from commons.wikimedia.org



Waterways and Fishing Destinations

Along the 361 miles of Oregon's beautiful coastline, there are many well-known and not so well-known fishing hot spots. Here are the well-known rivers to note (from north to south), according to Romantic Oregon Coast Vacations and Best Fishing in America:

  • Columbia River
  • Alsea River
  • Tillamook area rivers (noted above)
  • Nestucca River
  • Nehalem River
  • Siuslaw River
  • Umpqua River
  • Siletz River
  • Coquille River
  • Rogue River
  • Coos Bay
  • Chetco River
  • Sixes River
  • Elks River

Some of these rivers are stocked with fish from hatcheries; all of these are where anglers can find steelhead and Chinook salmon during their respective seasons.

These rivers are evenly spread out along the Oregon Coast, giving anglers many choices when it comes to fishing in the winter. And, while fishing the entire Oregon coastline in one season might be too ambitious, a more reasonable plan would be to choose a certain section to visit each year.

Tillamook Bay cc from flickr.com


Tillamook Bay Area

One of the best locations for fishing along the Oregon Coast is the Tillamook Bay Area; as we touched on before, this area has five salmon and steelhead producing rivers flowing into the Tillamook Bay. The Wilson River is likely the most well-known of the five, yet these main rivers are only part of the total waterways in the area.

According to an article found on Best Fishing in America called: "Fishing Near Tillamook, Pacific City and Rockaway", here are some other fishing spots to check out in this specific area:

  • Battle Lake
  • Cape Meares Lake
  • Hebo Lake
  • Loren's Pond
  • Nehalem Bay
  • Nehalem River
  • Netarts Bay
  • Smith Lake
  • Spring Lake
  • Tahoe Lake
  • Three Rivers

This extended list of fishing holes to visit in the Tillamook Bay area is an example of how rich Oregon's coast is with natural rivers, lakes, and bays. Whether anglers are trying to find a secret spot to catch the big one or take their chances in a well-known hot spot, they'll find all the opportunity they need in the Tillamook Bay area to fish during the winter.

The Tillamook Bay area also has many great places for anglers to stay during their winter trip; staying in a beach house (where a boat can be parked) while being close-by these fishing hot spots will make everything easier and more enjoyable.

View from Oregon beach house cc from flickr.com


Winter Fishing in Oregon

In the Travel Oregon article mentioned earlier, fishing guide Andy Martin explains what makes winter fishing in Oregon special:

"Oregon's best river fishing takes place in the winter. It's the best time of year to catch trophy-size salmon and steelhead. The Coast also has mild weather in the winter, so even though it's wet, it's often much warmer than other areas of the state."

That sums up what winter fishing on the Oregon Coast is all about. Truly, it offers anglers a fishing destination to remember, especially, in the wintertime when the crowds are gone and the winter steelhead start to run.

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