|Oregon Coast Notes|
|Kayak Fishing the Oregon Coast part 2|
By Isaac Miller for YakAngler
The second part of "How to Kayak Fish the Oregon Coast" brings us to Depoe Bay. DB, as the locals call it, is a small hole cut out of the cliffs, making it the world's smallest navigable harbor. Because DB is so small, and there's no river feeding into the harbor, it's easy to drop in a kayak at the $2 boat launch, head through the 50' x 300' "hole" and find yourself in the Pacific Ocean without even thinking of dealing with a surf launch. But then the question hits you – How do I fish this place?
There are ample fishing grounds to be had just within two miles of Depoe Bay. You can start fishing as soon as you shoot the hole, or paddle along the coast until you find a nice area to settle into, the choice is yours. To help figure all that out, the maps should be of some assistance. The Green shaded areas are good areas for bottom fishing for lingcod and rockfish, and should be easily fished. The Yellow shaded areas are cautionary areas – shallow rocks and reefs that can easily separate you from your kayak. Red shaded areas are to be avoided due to navigation channels, marine reserves or otherwise dangerous waters. The tan areas are great for crabbing if you take some crab pots with you.
This first area is the immediate vicinity of Depoe Bay. The red lines indicate the approaches used for the bay, and you should steer clear of the channels as soon as possible. As you can see, there is immediate fishing available. Do be careful of the North and South Reef areas. If the tide is low, and the swell up, it's easy to be tossed off your kayak as you're bounced along the jagged rocks. You can see by the map that the North Reef rises very suddenly, which magnifies the surf. If things are laying down flat enough, this is a good area to find fish, but be cautious. Likewise the South Reef can cause the swell to break, even on light days. Right in close, in the kelp beds, is one of my favorite places to fish. On occasion, you'll even see people fishing from the rocks as well.
Moving outside the immediate area of DB it can be difficult to decide where to go. I prefer to go north, as I'm more familiar with this area, I also think there is more productive fishing here. Government Point and Boiler Bay are usually my primary grounds and take just about 40 minutes to get there. A reef extends out from Government Point and extends almost a mile to the NW. There is also a great little pocket where you can find a 40' jump in depth which has proven pretty successful. The whole length of the reef is great, in my opinion. Just inside of Government Point is Boiler Bay. Because of the shallower water, you can get away with lighter tackle in here. I've also found it's a popular place for some dive anglers! Many will crawl down the rocks and do their scuba fishing within the safe confines of the bay. Because it's shallow, there is very little pressure from other boaters.
To the south there is a lot of great structure for bottom fishing, but there are a good number of hazards as well. Because of the distances to get to areas south of Cape Foulweather, it's probably a better bet to launch from Beverly Beach to cut your paddle distance in half. Just before you get to the Whale Cove Marine Area (red) is a great reef to fish. I've had some very good days drifting along and up and over this reef. Depths drop rather significantly, much closer to shore, around Cape Foulweather, and it is probably one of my favorite spots to the south.
Finally, if you're fishing out of Depoe Bay, there are a couple etiquette items to go over. You should already have a VHF radio with you. When entering or leaving the Depoe Bay Bar, you should announce yourself. A simple "kayaks heading outbound Depoe Bay" or inbound, is sufficient. Make this announcement on channel 16 or 80. Channel 80 is monitored by most of the fleet in and out of DB, as well as the harbor master. Everyone, Coast Guard included, monitors channel 16. I noticed, more often than not, that the Harbor Master will relay inbound/outbound broadcasts from Channel 80 on Channel 16. You should already, as suggested in the first article, have a small airhorn as well. It is REQUIRED that all boats in and out of the bay sound a 4-6 second horn blast before shooting the hole. After the blast, stop for a moment and listen for a response. If there is none, then you're free to go. Incoming vessels have right of way, so if you're heading out, and hear a horn, do not proceed through the bar.
Isaac Miller is a well respected Kayak Angler from Portland, Oregon