Big Fish

Pilot staff writer Linda Pinkham hates crowds when shopping, so you might find her fishing somewhere on a river near you during the holiday season.

While many people across the country will try to catch a tremendous shopping bargain at the mall on Black Friday, others will choose to use their fishing rods to land “lunkers.”

Free-fishing days are scheduled in Oregon for the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving, Nov. 29-30. Having out-of-town guests for the holiday? They can fish for free as well.

If you decide to add fishing to your holiday plans, you don’t need a license or a tag to fish, crab or clam anywhere in the state that’s open to fishing, crabbing or clamming, including ocean fishing.

But it’s not a holiday from other fishing regulations. All other rules and regulations apply.

“Bag limits, closures and size restrictions are in effect, and you need to know the rules and regulations where you are fishing,” said Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Gold Beach office specialist, Blair Krohn.

If you’re fishing for salmon, steelhead or marine species such as rockfish, remember to check the fishing section of the recreation report, on ODFW’s website, for the zone you want to fish.

Here’s the latest information on closures and best bets as week’s end:

Salmon, steelhead, half-pounders

The Chetco, Sixes and Elk rivers have closures due to low water, so make sure to check updated regulations and maps that show where fishing is still allowed. The Pistol River, meantime, is closed entirely.

The Rogue River has slowed for chinook, steelhead and half-pounders, but with water temperatures continuing to drop, fish are moving upriver, according to the ODFW Weekly Recreation Report, which is updated every Wednesday.

Ocean fishing

For ocean fishing, the report continues, “Bottomfishing is now open to fish at all depths. Fishing for lingcod and rockfish was very good this past weekend. Many anglers caught big lingcod while fishing out past 40 fathoms. The daily bag limit for marine fish is 5 plus 2 lingcod.

“The harvest of cabezon, along with copper, quillback and China rockfish, are now all closed to boat anglers. Shore anglers will still be able to harvest these rockfish species (but are encouraged to release them) and 1 cabezon a day.” 


Recreational crabbing is open in bays and estuaries, plus beaches, docks, piers and jetties along the entire Oregon coast from the Columbia River to the California border. (ODFW recommends eviscerating crabs before cooking.)

The recreational harvest of razor clams is closed from the south jetty of the Siuslaw River to the California border, for elevated domoic acid levels. This includes all beaches and all bays.

The recreational harvest of bay clams is open along the entire Oregon coast from the Columbia River to the California border.

Harvesting mussels is closed from the south jetty of the Coquille River to the California border, due to elevated levels of domoic acid.

If you’re crabbing or clamming, don’t forget to call the shellfish safety hotline at 1-800-448-2474, or check the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s recreational shellfish page before you head out to ensure an area is open.

For the latest updates to fishing regulations and to find how-to articles, visit For general fishing and shellfish regulations, visit


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