The Oregon Coast with its many rivers that flow into the Pacific Ocean is a hotspot for year-round fishing. There are many opportunities for fish along the entire coast, but one doesn’t need to go far. From Florence (73 miles north of Bandon) to Brookings (83 miles south of Bandon), from Salmon to Rockfish to Ling Cod to Perch, there is a wide variety of seafood available to folks who wouldn’t mind a little time on a boat or on the shore with a fishing pole in hand. A vast number of charter companies line the coast for those who head off shore in the ocean to do some fishing but don’t have the equipment or experience to get themselves out there.
Florence, where the Siuslaw River meets the Pacific, offers river and ocean fishing. The river is one of the best for fall Chinook which begin showing up in June and is also great for the native Cutthroat Trout. Steelhead fishing is best from December through February, and Shad fishing picks up from May through July. Albacore Tuna and Pacific Halibut can be found offshore from June through September. Siuslaw Bay is home to Dungeness crab and a variety of ocean Perch as well as Greenling, Rockfish, and Lingcod.
REEDSPORT AND WINCHESTER BAY
Reedsport and Winchester Bay are well known for their fishing spots and draw anglers from far and wide to the bay, the estuary, and the Umpqua and Smith Rivers. In the bay and estuaries, the late summer and fall Salmon are the stars of the fishing stage, but spring Chinook in April through June make a good showing as well. Offshore fishing is possible at Winchester Bay, and the jetties are prime for saltwater fishing and Spring Perch. Sturgeon and Striped Bass, as well as crab and clams can be found there as well.
The Smith River, a tributary of the Umpqua River that flows into the ocean, has a fall Chinook fishery as well as wild winter Steelhead (catch and release only) and keeper trout. The Umpqua has an excellent Smallmouth Bass fishery, and some years the shad fishing shines. In the Umpqua’s tributaries the trout, Steelhead, and Smallmouth fishing are good, and fly-fishing is available.
Fewer than 30 miles to Bandon’s north is Coos Bay, the largest bay in Oregon and home to a prolific Chinook Salmon fishery and lots of Coho Salmon. The bay also offers Herring, White Sturgeon, a variety of Perch (especially in the spring and early summer), Striped Bass, and Shad fishing, and Rockfish can be found in the lower bay and jetty channel. Lingcod is best from January through early spring.
Several waterways including Isthmus Slough and the Coos and Millicoma Rivers (and their forks) make their way to the ocean via the bay and are great spots for finding fall Chinook Salmon, Cutthroat Trout, and Winter Steelhead.
The beaches along the Pacific Ocean, including Horsfall Beach and North Beach offer fishing right from the shore. Horsfall Beach has the best surfperch fishing in Coos County. Striped Bass and Redtail Surfperch Perch are plentiful, and at times, White Sea Perch can be found there.
Clamming and crabbing are hot in the Coos Bay area. Access the tidal flats from Cape Arago Highway for excellent clam digging, and if it is too crowded there, Bastendorff Beach is another great spot for Razor Clams. Crabbing is fruitful most of the year and is best from the boat ramp in Empire to the jetty channel.
There is so much good fishing in the Coos Bay area, a visual aid is necessary. The chart on page 2 of this document helps anglers see when is best for each type of fish.
With its many shopping, golfing, cultural and beach walking opportunities, there’s truly something for everyone in Bandon, and fishing certainly tops the list of things to do. Tony Roszkowski, Bandon’s favorite fisherman with a pen, writes about Bandon’s fishing in terms of seasons, highlighting the fact that it happens year-round.
Spring brings Surfperch Perch that can be caught right from the beach as well as native Cutthroat Trout in the rivers and Halibut offshore. Summer sees fishing from the jetty for Perch and Rockfish as well as Sea Perch, Greenling, Snapper, and Lingcod. Offshore, Chinook and Coho can be found just a few miles out, and rock cod is great year-round. Albacore Tuna, typically done through a charter company, is 20-50 miles offshore. Fishing drops off a bit in the fall, but the Rockfish stick around through the season. Winter Steelhead is best on the Coquille River’s north and south forks.
Just south of town is the New River which runs parallel to the ocean’s shore. One of the best ways to access this river is from the BLM property at Storm Ranch between Bandon and Langlois. There, anglers can find Cutthroat Trout, Chinook Salmon, and Steelhead.
Clamming and crabbing are also popular in the area, and the extreme low tides of summer create excellent opportunities for razor clams. Fall and winter is the best time of year for the Dungeness Crab in the bay.
This recreation map of Bandon shows some of the best fishing spots from the Coquille River in Bandon to just north of Port Orford to the south.
The Elk and Sixes River in the Port Orford area have some of the best late-fall and winter salmon fishing on the West Coast. Both rivers have thriving Chinook fisheries, and there is a healthy showing of wild salmon, including kings, in both as well. Cohos and Cutthroat Trout can also be found then. The fishing is good until early spring; February and Mach can see the best steelhead fishing, just when it’s drying up on other rivers. Motors are not allowed on the Elk, so it’s perfect for drift boats.
Ocean fishing is popular and easy to do in Port Orford. One can fish for smelt, sardine, herring, bottom fish, snappers, lingcod, halibut, perch, and more from the dock or the jetty, and Pinkfin perch and Surfperch perch can be caught from just about any beach. From a non-motorized boat, it’s possible to catch bottom fish, greenling, red snapper, rockfish, and black snapper around Nelly’s Cove, and more can be found offshore.
South of Bandon by about 55 miles is the town of Gold Beach, well-known among fishers for its salmon and steelhead fishing in the Rogue River. The steelhead run is December through March, and they peak in February, which, fortunately, can be full of sunny days in the banana belt of the Oregon coast. The fall and winter see Coho salmon and summer steelhead. Chinook can be found the rest of the year in the river between Gold Beach and upriver to Agness, but spring is when they really shine, and a Rogue Chinook wins awards for eating quality at the World’s Fair every time it is entered.
The best ways to fish the ocean in Gold Beach are to catch surfperch from the shore or to charter a boat with one of several companies in the area. Charters will help you access Ling Cod, Rockfish, Cabezone, Snapper, and more. Plus, it’s a great way to see other wildlife and the beautiful shoreline from the water side of it!
Brookings, only 6 miles from the California border, has the safest bar on the west coast. It is, then, one of the favorites for fishers to try ocean fishing for Snapper, Ling Cod, Halibut, Salmon, Albacore Tuna, and Dungeness Crab almost year-round (weather permitting).
Like the south coast’s other rivers, Brooking’s Chetco River is great for winter steelhead fishing. In fact, the run is so healthy that the Chetco is one of only a few rivers in the world where anglers are allowed to keep wild fish. The fall also sees huge Chinook Salmon off of the mouth of the river.