We all know the Oregon Coast is one of the most pristine sights on the entire West Coast. Its beaches are plentiful, the local sand dunes breathtaking, and you can spend days on end retreading the ground once covered by Lewis and Clark. To top it all off, there’s plenty of fishing to be had in the Beaver State, both freshwater and saltwater.
What anglers want to know is – will the deep sea fishing Oregon provides actually be worth it? Is this kind of trip worth your time and money? Our answer to both questions is a resounding yes, and here we’ll show you exactly why we think so. But before we get to the why’s, let’s take a look at the fishing who’s.
What You Can Catch in Oregon
The good thing about Oregon’s Pacific Coast is that you’ll always know exactly what you’re looking for and what your chances are. Spend a few days on the water at different times of the year and you’ll soon have your favorites, too. So without further ado, let’s check out some of the usual suspects.
As many as 25 distinct species of Rockfish call the waters of Oregon their home. That’s a big number for sure, but a lot of these species will be hard to tell apart at first glance. Most Rockfish-focused charters will be fishing for them around a dozen miles offshore, where the common targets include Widow, Canary, and Yellowtail Rockfish.
The poor Lingcod often goes overlooked, which is why we’ll be including it at the very top of our Oregon deep sea fishing species list. One of the most common catches in winter, you can find it all over the Oregon Coast for most of the year. Other Pacific Coast states have seasonal restrictions on Lingcod, but over here the fishing’s open all year. You’ll mostly be catching these fish at depths of around 350 feet, but they can go much deeper than that, as well.
A lot of people consider Halibut to be the tastiest fish found in this part of the US. Because of their popularity, it’s necessary to have strict fishing regulations to ensure the fishery stays healthy for decades to come. When going after these bad boys, you’ll want to go over 20 miles out where the waters are more than 800 feet deep.
Oregon’s Tuna fishing might be on the short end, but it’s still loads of fun when these fish get close enough to target (around 20–50 miles offshore). The southern part of Oregon has the best access, and therefore the most fishing charters on hand when the Tuna run hits. This is Albacore Tuna we’re talking about, so expect big schools and great fishing.
Once only popular with commercial anglers, this voracious predator has developed a devoted following in recreational fishing circles throughout the years. If you saw the Netflix series Battlefish (filmed right here in Oregon), you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about.
Where’s the Best Oregon Deep Sea Fishing?
The good thing about offshore fishing in Oregon is that you can pretty much pick a place on the coastline and it’s likely to have someone running fishing trips there. The absolute best fisheries are actually located both on the northern and southern edges of the Oregon coastline. Here are some of our favorite locations when it comes to angling in the deep blue.
Astoria is one of the most popular and iconic fisheries in Oregon. It’s easy to see why, as it has easy access to both the pristine waters of the Columbia River as well as the depths of the Pacific. There’s a lot of variety here in both fish and anglers, but the trifecta of Lingcod, Halibut, and Tuna makes up Astoria’s deep sea fishing offer. Nowadays, Astoria has become the default fishing location for anglers looking to explore all possible sides of Oregon fishing.
On the far south of Oregon’s coast lies Coos Bay, the state’s own Tuna Central. When Albacore season hits in late summer, there’s hardly a better place for you to be. Sure, it’s also got plenty of Halibut and Lingcod, as well as decent crabbing, but it’s the Tuna bite that brings all the anglers to the harbor. Unfortunately, it lacks the reputation of Astoria even though it can easily compete with it in the offshore fishing department.
Smack dab in the center of the Oregon Coast you’ll find the city of Newport. Another excellent place for checking out the deep sea bite, awesome fishing year round is almost a guarantee. And if you’re into Lingcod fishing at all, that almost turns into a definitely. Other than the mighty Lingcod, you can also find the likes of Rockfish, Halibut, and Albacore Tuna.
Oregon Deep Sea Fishing Techniques
Oregon anglers like sticking with what works, so you should expect the expected when it comes to fishing techniques. This usually means trolling for Tuna and bottom fishing for everything else. This sounds simple enough on the surface. But when you actually start considering the best gear and bait for the job it can get anything but.
Trolling and Live Bait Fishing
When the season starts around mid-July, you’re best off trolling with Tuna jigs and diving plugs. It’s around the end of August that things start to change. Traditional trolling with jigs becomes less and less effective, so you’ll need to switch things up. This is when anglers start completely moving over to fishing live bait for the rest of the season. Chumming some bait in front of a school of Albacore and witnessing the chaos that follows is something you should have on your fishing bucket list.
While you don’t need to go more than a mile or two to find Lingcod, all the big ones are in the deep blue. The deeper the water, the bigger the fish – that’s how it goes. For Lingcod, in particular, a proper deep sea fishing trip is in waters 400-or-so feet deep. Halibut fishing grounds can easily be twice that. In these depths, you’ll need to use some proper heavy-duty tackle to reel in these tasty fish.
Oregon Deep Sea Fishing Season
Albacore Tuna are the ones with the tightest schedule in these fisheries. They show up in droves somewhere around the end of July and stick around until October. And before you know it, they’re gone until next year.
On the other hand, you’ll find Lingcod here all year long, the perfect stress-free fishing option. Halibut season is more restrictive, but you can typically expect fishing to be open from May until November.
With all that said, it looks like the best time to drop a line is in fall when you’re most likely to experience all the best deep sea fishing Oregon has to offer.
Preparing for Your Trip
Fortunately, there’s not a lot of preparation to do if you’re fishing with a licensed guide. They’ll provide you with all the essentials, with the sole exception of fishing licenses. You can buy those online, so it won’t be too much of a hassle. What you do want to prepare for are longer trips.
If you’re going to be on a boat for 10+ hours, it’s a good idea to bring along some drinks and snacks. Most charters will have at least water on the boat, and some will even have beer. You should also be mindful of the weather because coming unprepared can ruin your day when the weather is less than perfect. Rain gear and layered clothing are a must. It’s much cooler out there than on land, and you can easily get wet, even if it’s not actually raining.
Oregon Deep Sea Fishing: A Modern Classic
You wouldn’t believe it now, but up until the early 2000s, Oregon’s deep blue was mostly reserved for commercial crabbers and Albacore fishermen. Nowadays, it brings in huge numbers of recreational anglers year after year. When you cast a line here yourself, chances are you’ll be hooked for life.
Have you ever been deep sea fishing in Oregon? How did you like it? Share your stories with us in the comments below!