Port Orford, Rocky Point and Other Small Estuaries

295.7 Sixes River Beach and the Sixes River Estuary are located just above Cape Blanco.  Sixes River Beach at the estuary is listed by ODFW as a location to dig for razor clams.  The beach is renowned as an excellent location to fish for redtail surfperch.  Access to the Sixes River Estuary is through Cape Blanco State Park via the Hughes House access road but access to the rest of the river is limited by private property.   A small number of coho salmon return in October.  Chinook salmon, usually the larger five year old fish, return to the Sixes River from late October peaking in November into December.  Some anglers drift the Sixes River from the Sixes River store on Highway 101 to Sixes River Estuary at Cape Blanco State Park.  Other anglers prefer the longer drift from the Mid–Drift launch further up river to the take out at the Sixes River store.  Drift the Sixes River when height of the river gage of the Elk River measures between 5 and 7 feet and the water level is dropping.   

  The Chinook salmon that return to small coastal rivers are generally dominated by 4 year old fish followed by 5 year old fish.  When large fish are caught in these small coastal streams they attract a lot of attention and easily becoming overcrowded with anglers.  There is a measure of truth in the axiom, “Too many cooks spoil the broth”, especially when too many anglers target the same fish in small water.  If you can deal with the crowded conditions the reward can be worth the effort.   Annually an average of 3000 Chinook return to the Sixes River.  The average catch rate for the Sixes river is 600 fish per year.  

296.6 Cape Blancois the westernmost coastal point of California, Oregon or Washington.  Cape Blanco offers an exceptional opportunity to observe gray whales.  The view from the cape is absolutely magnificent. 

The lighthouse, which was built in 1870, was the second lighthouse built on the Oregon Coast.  The black sand beach is a unique geological feature that attracts thousands of visitors each year. 

The park is the site of the historical Hughes House which was built in 1898 and displays period furniture depicting the lifestyle of the times.  Antonio Flores named Cape Blanco in 1603.  Cape Blanco has a full service State Park and equestrians are welcome. 

297.2 McKenzie River Beach and the Elk River are located below Cape Blanco.  The beach is an excellent location to fish for redtail surfperch especially at the mouth to the Elk River.  Motor vehicles are allowed on the beach at Elk River State Park south to and area below Port Orford.  A small number of coho salmon return to the Elk River during late October or early November.  Chinook salmon, usually the four year old fish, return to the Elk River from late October peaking in November into December.  The catch rate over a decade has averaged 930 Chinook per year.  Anglers avoid the Elk River estuary during high tide, because the Elk River estuary is subject to flooding by ocean waves during high tides.  Access to the estuary is over the beach with 4 wheel drive vehicles with oversized tires.  Most anglers drift the Elk River from the Elk River Fish Hatchery to Ironhead Landing, which is located east of Highway 101.  Access to most of the river is limited by private property.  Drift the river when the level of the river exceeds 5 feet and dropping. Check the level or the river gage at the Elk River hatchery by calling hatchery at 541 332 0405 for a recorded message describing river level, color and water temperature.

299.8 Paradise Point State Wayside is the beach access to Paradise Point and to Garrison Lake.  Fish for shallow water rockfish, i.e. grass, brown, copper, black or blue rockfish and sea trout, perch, cabezon and lingcod associated with the rocky shore from Paradise Point to Battle Rock at Port Orford.

301.0 Port Orford Heads State Wayside is located a short walk from Nellies Point.  The view of Orford Reef to the north and of the rocky shoreline and Humbug Mountain to the south is absolutely incredible and well worth the trip.

301.0                    Port Orford

Port Orford and Depoe Bay are the safest ports of entry for the small boater along the Oregon Coast.  Port Orford is located on the southeast side of Nellie’s Point and is protected by a 550 foot breakwater that extends SE from Graveyard Point.  The Port offers protection from NW summer storms into early fall, but is exposed to the winter storms that come from the south.  The fishing for shallow water rockfish, greenling and perch species associated with jetties and the rocky shore along the Port Orford jetty varies from fair to excellent.  The fishing offshore for all species is excellent.  Fish for rockfish to the south at Red Fish Rocks and for rockfish and salmon off Orford Reef and Blanco Reef.  Orford Reef is located between Nellie’s Point and Cape Blanco.  Blanco Reef is located off Cape Blanco. 

ODFW sponsors a fishery for Chinook salmon off of Port Orford between Cape Blanco and Humbug Mountain.  The Elk River Ocean Terminal Area Fall Chinook Salmon Fishery extends seaward 3 miles from Cape Blanco to Humbug Mountain Open shoreward of a line drawn from Cape Blanco (42°50‘20" N Lat.) to Black Rock (42°49‘24" N Lat. / 124°35‘00" W. Long.) to Best Rock (42°47‘24" N Lat. / 124°35‘42" W. Long.) to 42°40‘30" N Lat. / 124°29‘00" W. Long. to Humbug Mt.

Port Orford Public Fishing Pier offers fair crabbing and fishing.

Port Orford boat hoist is available on the wharf at the Port of Port Orford. 

Crabbing in the open ocean off of Port Orford is excellent.  Set out several crab pots on the way to the fishing grounds and pick them on the way in.  The scope of the crab line has to twice the length of depth in the ocean where the crab pots are to be placed.  Usually a crab line 120 foot long is sufficient.

Port Orford is the only port in Oregon that offers crabbing in the Ocean from a dock facility. Crabbing from docks is open all year but crabbing productivity varies from day to day and with the season. Recreational boaters crab in the ocean south of the port in 60 to 80 feet of water. 

We have asked the good folks at Port Orford docks repeatedly for information about crabbing and fishing from their docks but with no response. Finally, a crabber was good enough to share the following infomation about crabbing from the dock at Port Orford. I for one am looking forward to crabbing there. Bill

"When we were crabbing at Port Orford we were with a friend who was well acquainted with the dock area. If there are fishing boats coming and going there is only about 20 feet of dock available for crabbing because it is very much a working dock. We happened to hit it lucky two evenings in that all the boats were in before 6 p.m. so we were able to use the entire length of the dock where the cranes are located where the boats usually come in for as long as we wanted. If the cranes are in use you cannot safely crab from there. The third time we were there the weather was so lousy no boats had gone out at all so we had the entire dock to ourselves. The water at Port Orford appears to be much cleaner than the water elsewhere where crabbing is done at the mouths of rivers. We could see the bait on the bottom and could actually watch the crabs moving toward and onto the traps in the shallower water. The folks on the dock at Port Orford ask that crabbers spin the females or too small males back into the water so they hit the water on their sides. Since the dock is so high above the water it can kill the crabs if they land on their backs or stomachs. They also asked us to keep the area clean by removing all seaweed from the dock and throwing the snails back as well." Thank you for sharing, Bill

Internet Links of Interest for Port Orford

Click on 2012 to view the NOAA tidal projections for your area of interest.

Click HERE to see the 10 day weather forecast at Port Orford. Click HERE to see the unfavorable harbor conditions at Port Orford.

Rocky Point: the digging for littleneck clams at Rocky Point has declined because of a large scale die off late last year. The die off of littleneck clams has occurred in many areas along the ocean beaches of the Pacific Northwest. We need current up to date information on digging conditions at Rocky Point. Click on the link to Rocky Point for information about tide pools.

Rocky Point Update: An association member had a lengthy discussion with a South coast digger who noted that the steamer clam population has indeed had a terrible drop on those coastal rocky reaches. The digger did note that a couple of years ago, he would get 8 or 10 steamers out of some of the spots, but this year he managed to get only 1 or 2. The positive aspect of this is that some of the steamers did survive.

330.6 Hunters Beach has an excellent reputation for redtail surfperch.  Chinook salmon, usually the four year old fish, return to the Hunter Creek from late October peaking in November into December.  The catch rate averages 40 fish per year.

339.0 Pistol River State Wayside Beachis located between Crook Point and Cape Sebastain.  The beach north and south of the Pistol River is and excellent location to fish for redtail surfperch. Chinook salmon, usually the four year old fish, return to the Pistol River from late October peaking in November into December.  Striped seaperch are the dominate perch species caught along the rocky shore from Crook Point to the California Border.  The fishing for shallow water rockfish, i.e. grass, brown, copper, black or blue rockfish, sea trout, perch, cabezon and lingcod from Crook Point to the north jetty of the Chetco River Estuary varies from fair to excellent depending on the weather and time of year.

362.2 Winchuck Beachis located just north of Oregon California boarder.  The redtail surfperch fishing is excellent along the beach on either side of the Winchuck River.  Chinook salmon return to the WinchuckRiver from late October through November.  The run is comprised with a high percentage of five year old fish.  The catch rate over a decade averaged 90 Chinook per year.  The estuary at the Winchuck River is approximately ¼ mile in length.  Access to the estuary is through the Winchuck River State Park Wayside, but access to the rest of the river is limited by private property.  

On 10/17 ODFW reports:

ELK RIVER: Chinook, cutthroat trout

Anglers are starting to pick up Chinook at the mouth, but this is only the beginning of the run and fishing will be spotty. Access to the mouth of Elk River is at Cape Blanco State Park.

Check river conditions by calling 541-332-0405.

SIXES RIVER: Chinook, cutthroat

Rains this week may bring some Chinook into the lower river. Access to Sixes River is pretty good, with Cape Blanco State Park offering some of the best trout fishing. Anglers will want to keep a good eye on the weather because it can be very windy in the lower river. There is some bank access at Highway 101, ODFW access approx. 2 miles upstream of Hwy 101 and Edson Creek. 


Cutthroat fishing has been good. Even though the mainstem is closed to angling Aug. 1, anglers can fish any number of the tributaries flowing into the mainstem for cutthroat. 

Temporary regulations take effect Aug. 1, 2012 on the Winchuck River.   

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