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Charter Ocean Fishing

charter fishing in oregon

Oregon Coast charters offer fresh fish and a fresh experience

By Patrick Johnson

One of the most exciting things you can do while visiting the Oregon Coast is see it from the ocean.

From whale-watching tours to 3-day tuna fishing excursions, there are many trips, companies and times to take a charter from one of the ports on the coast.

The trick is finding the charter that is right for you.

"What I tell people is to figure out what you want to do, and then book a trip for that," says Jim Tate, one of the owners of Dockside Charters in Depoe Bay. "You can take a trip pretty much 10 months out of the year."

Trips can range from smaller boats with fishing guides that stay in the bay to taking a high-performance boat over the bar in a wetsuit and into the Pacific Ocean. Your only limitation is weather - as many charters will cancel trips if the weather makes entering the ocean a dangerous situation.

Most of the charter services offer trips at a flat-rate - and provide safety equipment and fishing gear. Many of the charter services have Web sites where they outline when each type of trip is available.

"I would say that people coming from out of state should search for different charters in Oregon and then check on what's in season when they are here," says Crystal Dana, office manager of Linda Sue III Charters. "The seasons for different fish change every year depending on the state (fishing rules), so looking up the charter services are the best way to go if you want to take a trip."

Overall, these are the types of trips offered:

Whale-watching trips: On these trips you go just off the Oregon Coast and see migrating whales. Prices are generally lower for these types of trips than fishing trips, and most of the time you can still see land.

Half-day trip: These are anywhere from four to five hours and can include whatever fish is in season when you visit - from salmon, to bottom fishing for sea bass and ling cod.

Whole day trip: These trips can be extended salmon fishing trips, bottom fishing and crabbing trips, or voyages with bigger game in mind. The cost is higher, but they increase both your time on the water and fishing time. Also, many charter services include crabbing as well, if you request it or take on a package that includes crabbing. These trips can go farther out into the ocean and give you a taste of what it's like on a longer charter trip.

Halibut and tuna trips: These are typically what you think of when you hear the term "deep sea fishing." They often require a longer trip - some up to three days - but can yield catches of bigger, more exciting fish.

Crabbing: Many charter services include crabbing as well, if you request it or take on a package that includes crabbing. These trips can go farther out into the ocean and give you a taste of what it's like on a longer charter trip.

Here are some tips:
- Many people get together with friends to help defer some of the costs. Yes, you can walk in and get on a boat by yourself, but many times group rates are cheaper per person for the same trip.

- While charter companies offer the boat ride, safety equipment and fishing gear, there are some things you need to bring to enjoy your expedition no matter the length of your charter trip - sun screen, water and a camera. You'll also want to dress in layers.

- The weather on the Oregon Coast can change quickly - your day can start as a cloudy 45 degrees and quickly transform into a sunny 80 degree day.

- If you are fishing, an Oregon fishing license is also an additional expense that can be purchased from many of the charter companies.

- Longer trips can require that you bring any food you want to eat. Make sure to ask your charter company what you need to bring.

- Make sure to ask any charter service you are thinking of using about their safety record. Crossing from the bay into the ocean can be dangerous, and asking about their safety record is a question they are used to answering.

- As far as cleaning and packaging your fish, most, if not all, the charter companies do this either for free or for a small fee. Yes, you can buy fresh Oregon fish on the dock for cheaper, but the memory of the accomplishment of landing one of Oregon's 25-pound ocean salmon really is priceless.


Story by Patrick Johnson, a freelance writer based in Canby.