If you’re planning any Oregon ocean groundfishing this year, keep it close to shore. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife announced earlier this month that effective July 23, the fishery beyond the 20-fathom line will be closed to sport fishing. This is an attempt by the ODFW to minimize the catch-and-release mortality rate of yelloweye rockfish, which are considered overfished by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
“Yelloweye catch has been up along the entire Oregon Coast,” ODFW sport groundfish program leader Lynn Mattes said in a press release. “After consulting with the Sportfish Advisory Committee we decided to pull the fishery into 20 fathoms to protect yelloweye while still offering a fishery for other species.”
Why 20 fathoms? Well, according to Lynn, yelloweye rockfish generally live in deep water, so restricting the fishery to 20 fathoms helps prevent catch-and-release of the struggling species. Fishing enthusiasts can still fish for other species that reside within the 20 fathoms, such as black rockfish and lingcod.
In addition to the 20 fathom limit, anglers on boats can no longer keep cabezon, another common Oregon coast fish, because the harvest cap for the year is almost met.
Having trouble figuring out where 20 fathoms would be, exactly? Well, the ODFW has you covered. Check out the waypoints at the ODFW website for more information.