Mile by Mile Map of the Oregon Coast Trail from Alsea Bay to the Siuslaw River Estary at Florence.

155.4                             Alsea Bay:

The City of Waldport is located on the south shore of Alsea BayOld Town Waldport was built on the site of an Indian burial ground.  Deceased Alsi Indians were interred in wooden canoes above ground.  The early white settlers piled the canoes together and burned them.  The City of Waldport set an example that other coastal communities should follow by building easy access steps over the riprap to the bay.  The low and high salt marsh of the large island that separates the North Channel from the main channel is the most prominent tidal area in Alsea Bay.  The large island becomes three smaller islands during high incoming spring tides.

The bar at the entrance to Oregon’s seventh largest bay is dangerous to cross.  Not at anytime should the small boater attempt to cross the bar.  You have to use caution when crabbing or fishing in Alsea Bay.  You should only crab or fish in the lower bay on a high incoming tide because the high current velocity of the major tidal phase of an outgoing spring tide reaches five to seven knots at the entrance, noug force to pull an underpowered vessel or one having engine ailure over the bar into the surf jeopardizing the lives of all aboard. Loss of life from boats capsizing in the surf at the entrance to Alsea Bay occurs annually.

Eckman Lake is a 45 acre lake located 3 miles east of Waldport on Highway 34. Catchable rainbow trout are planted each spring. The shallow lake contains some brown bullhead and largemouth bass. Eckman Lake was created to provide water skiing opportunity for Waldport residents by erecting a small dam across Eckman Creek. Eckman Lake was the result. The question was the loss of the ecological productivity of converting tidelands to a freshwater lake with the price? Today the boat launch is overgrown with weeds and water skiers no longer use the lake.

Chinook salmon return to Alsea Bay in small numbers in some years as early as the last week of August but usually during the first week of September.  The run peaks in late September to early October running into November.  The average catch rate is 2780 fish per year.  The best fishing for newly arriving fall Chinook salmon occurs in the lower bay during the incoming tide of the major tidal exchange of spring tides or neap tides especially when the incoming tide coincides with sunrise or sunset.  The next most productive fishing period occurs at sunrise or sunset during the incoming tide of the minor tidal exchange in the daily tidal cycle.  Daybreak is that magical time of day when Chinook salmon bite the best.  Be sure to have the bait in the water one half hour before sunrise.  Fishing is most productive from ½ hour before sunrise to midmorning and from late afternoon until ½ hour after sunset.  Trolling a plug cut herring with the incoming tide through high slack tide in the lower bay from the bar to the Port Docks is the most productive method to catch early returning fall Chinook salmon.  The velocity of the tidal current requires the use of heavy sinkers up to 16 plus ounces to keep the bait in the Chinook’s strike zone.  Most anglers concentrate fishing in the upper bay from the Port Docks to the confluence of Drift Creek to avoid the dangerous tidal conditions of the outgoing tide in the lower bay.  Chinook salmon move into the upper bay above the Port Docks to avoid the high velocity of the current in the lower bay.  The color of the water in Alsea Bay varies from clear to off colored and stained depending on the amount of rainfall runoff especially the runoff from Drift Creek.  Fish in the upper bay in the main or north channels from the confluence of Drift Creek to the Port Docks by trolling with or incoming or outgoing tide using a plug cut herring or spinners equipped with genuine silver, matte silver or rainbow colored blades when the water is clearer and spinners with green accents and rainbow colored spinner blades or with 50–50 green or chartreuse hammered brass spinner blades in dingy stained water.  Back trolling or back bouncing with a plug cut herring or spinners during the outgoing tide are options that produce fish.  Trolling a plug cut herring or spinners on the tidal flats above and between the Port Docks and North Island during a last hour of the incoming tide through high slack tide is an option that can be productive.  Remember when buying herring buy the largest herring available. 

Fish in the lower tidal reach of the river channel from Taylor’s landing to the confluence of Drift Creek or in the tidal reach of Drift Creek using the following baits.  Troll with the incoming tide with spinners equipped with genuine silver, matte silver or rainbow colored spinner blade or bait wrapped Flatfish lures with a silver body and chartreuse or green accents.  Back bounce or back troll with the outgoing tide fishing with a walnut sized gob of salmon eggs, spinners or with bait wrapped Flatfish lures.  Drift with the tidal current using a free sliding bobber to fish a walnut sized gob of salmon eggs topped with a sand shrimp just off of the bottom.  Bobber fishing with walnut sized gob of salmon eggs topped with a sand shrimp while drifting with the tidal current is the most popular method used to fish for salmon in the upper tidal reach of the river channel. 

Anchor above the deeper holes from Taylor’s landing to the head of tidewater above Kozy Kove in the community of Tidewater.  Fish with a bobber during the last half of the outgoing tide through low slack tide using a walnut sized gob of salmon eggs topped with a sand shrimp.  Fishing with bait sweetened Spin–N–Glos, spinners, spinner bait combinations, bait wrapped Flatfish lures, wobblers or bait while anchored above the deeper holes during an outgoing tide are also productive methods for catching Chinook salmon in the Alsea River.

Coho salmon begin returning to Alsea Bay in September peaking in October and running through November.  Troll a plug cut herring, hoochies or streamer flies behind a diver or wire spreader in the lower bay with the incoming tide in the upper half of the water column from the bar to the Port Docks trolling.  Fish in the upper bay from the Port Docks to the confluence with Taylor’s Landing trolling plug cut herring, chartreuse hoochies, streamer flies, rainbow, chartreuse or pink colored spinners.  Remember coho salmon prefer bait trolled at a speed of 3 to 5 knots.

Cutthroat trout return to the Alsea River early in July and run through August.  Fish from the first week of July through the first week of August trolling Doc Shelton spinners rigged with night crawlers from Eckman Slough upstream to Canal Creek.  Troll with Doc Shelton spinners rigged with night crawlers or cast spinners in the upper tidal reach of the Alsea River above the community of Tidewater through the end of August. The searun in the photo was taken up river.      

Pileperch, walleye surfperch, redtail surfperch, white seaperch and striped seaperch enter the bay in late spring.  Striped perch are the dominant perch species found in the bay.  Schools of perch move onto the tidal flats feeding heavily on intertidal animals upstream from the entrance to the bay to McKinney’s Slough.  The fishing ranges from fair to excellent through fall depending on the tides and the weather conditions.  Fish for perch in the channel adjacent to the Port of Alsea, at the entrance to Lint Slough and along the channels that drains the tidal flats of northern half of the bay to McKinney’s Slough

Starry Flounder fishing ranges from nonexistent for most of the year to fair in the spring.  The best fishing occurs from the Highway 101 Bridge to the North Channel that drains the tidal flats of the upper bay.

White sturgeon enter Alsea Bay in small numbers for most of the year.  The best fishing occurs from May through August.  Fish in the holes downstream from McKinny’s Slough and Eckman Slough or from the confluence of Drift Creek upstream to Taylor’s landing.  The best time to fish for sturgeon is two hours before low tide.  Mud and sand shrimp are the most productive bait.  The sturgeon fishery is a small one ranking 6th overall when compared to more productive bays averaging 45 fish per year with low and high yearly catch of 12 and 116 fish respectively. 

Bank Fishing at the entrance to Alsea Bay is under utilized to say the least.  Fish along the north shore for perch, starry flounder and salmon from the Highway 101 Bridge seaward and along the south shore for salmon from William P. Keady Wayside seaward and for perch and starry flounder from the Port Docks located in Waldport seaward.  Bank Access is limited in the upper bay and the lower tidal reach of the river channel is limited by private property.

Clam digging in Alsea Bay for softshell clams is renowned for its excellence and rates right at the top for any of Oregon’s bays.  The softshell clam beds on the south shore are located up Highway 34 at Eckman Lake.  Travel east on Highway 34 from the City of Waldport to Eckman Lake.  There is ample parking along Highway 34 across from Eckman Lake and the church allows clam diggers to park at the church parking lot.  The clam digging area is located on the far bank opposite of the church parking lot on the other side of Eckman Creek.  The softshell clam beds on the north shore are located 1.4 miles east of Highway 101 on Bayview Rd.  A small to moderate population of cockles are located on the banks of the deep channel in front of the City of Waldport and in the channel east of the Highway 101 Bridge that runs parallel to the south shore.  Alsea Bay supports a moderate population of gaper clams on the northwest shore of the sand spit that parallels Alsea bay Dr.  Purple varnish clam beds are located in the tidal flats east of the Hwy 101 Bridge and the Port of Alsea

Alsea Bay is renowned for the high population of softshell clams common to the upper bay. Cockles and gaper clam (Tresus Capax) are common to specific areas in the lower bay as shown below.

In the not to distance past, my buddy Walt and I were into digging large gaper clams in the lower bay. However, clam digger Bret filled a 5 gallon bucket with 8 of his limit of 12 gaper clams. The best we could do was dig 4 of the big brutes.

Our clam digging buddy and former CDAO Board Member Jerry dug the clams in the following photograph. He dug the gaper clams from the lower bay and the softshell clams from the tidal flat on the bayside of HWY 34 at Eckman Lake.

The size of the gaper clams (tresus capx) in the photo demonstrate the abunance of age class of gaper clams in Alsea Bay. The clams in the photo were dug from the Bridge Flat on both sides of the Hwy 101 Bridge. The Waldport Bridge Flat was dominated by thousands of juvenile gaper clam that clam diggers were confusing as softshell clams. We asked ODFW to close the flat to harvest to protect the juvenile gaper clams from being dug. We aske OSP for enforcement! They both refused to act and the result was the gaper clams disappeared. Why? Is this important? Yes, because ODFW does not have either a Clam Managment and Crab Management plan in place. Would the presence of a Clam Management plan made a difference? We will will neve know!!!

Shellfish and Estuarine Assessment of Coastal Oregon (SEACOR) for Alsea Bay.

Directions to Alsea Bay clam digging access points:

Crabbing in Alsea Bay has a reputation for excellence.  Like most of Oregon’s bays the most productive crabbing occurs in the fall during September, October into November depending on the arrival of the seasonal fall storms. Crab in the channel that parallels the north shore from a point opposite of McKinley’s Marina seaward to the entrance of the bay. Be aware of the sand bars that extend from accross from the Port Docks toward the west.   The Port of Alsea allows crabbing from the port docks in Old Town Waldport.

Bill from the Dock of the Bay located at 1245 NE Mill St, Waldport, OR 97394 · (541) 563-2003 carries all of the crabbing gear to fill you needs to rent or buy.

Diving for crabs in lower Alsea Bay during the time of abundance paid off. My daughter involved her boys in choosing which crabs to keep.

Bill Here: Last season one of my daughter's friends stopped by my home and gave me 4 of the 12 crabs he had caught in the lower Alsea Bay. What a great gift! The crabs were soft and about half full of crab meat. However, my wife and I enjoyed a great crab Louis. I made Oregon's Crab Louie salad dressing with fresh ginger added to it.....

OREGON’S CRAB LOUIE DRESSING

Last season one of my daughter's friends stopped by my home and gave me 4 of the 12 crabs he had caught in the lower Alsea Bay. What a great gift! The crabs were soft and about half full of crab meat. However, my wife and I enjoyed a great crab Louis. I made Oregon's Crab Louie salad dressing with fresh ginger added to it.....

The recipe for Oregon’s Crab Louie dressing is based on the ability to enhance the flavor of the ingredients of Oregon’s Crab Louie. The optional ingredients consist of Worcestershire sauce or Chipotle chili pepper sauce or fresh ground ginger. Either one of the optional ingredients adds a flavor component to Oregon’s Crab Louie that complements the delicate sweet flavor of the fresh crabmeat.

Ingredients:

2 cups Mayonnaise
2/3 cup Catsup
3 tablespoons hamburger relish
1/2 lemon juiced
1 tablespoon Chipotle flavored hamburger relish if available or 1 minced Chipotle chili pepper from a can of Embasa Chipotle chili peppers (optional), or
1 plus tablespoon fresh ginger root finely chopped (optional), or
Several dashes of Worcestershire sauce (optional)

Preparation:

1. Oregon’s Crab Louie dressing is a combination of mayonnaise, catsup, hamburger relish and lemon juice mixed to taste. Add either one of the optional ingredients to enhance the flavor of the Louie Dressing. Add a tablespoon of Chipotle flavored hamburger relish or 1 plus tablespoon of fresh minced ginger to complement and enhance the flavors of the crabmeat and other ingredients. If the Chipotle flavored hamburger relish is unavailable add 1 minced Chipotle chili pepper to the three tablespoons of hamburger relish. Do not allow the flavor of the chipotle or ginger to overpower the dressing by using too much.

Internet links of interest:

Tideland Ownership Maps, 1972-1973

Tidal Projections:View the tidal projections for Waldport, or view the tidal projections for Drift Creek.

View the navigational hazards to avoid when crossing the Alsea Bay Bar. Scroll down the PDF pages to Alsea Bay

Click on Marine Weather forecast to view the marine weather forecast for coastal waters from Cascade Head to Florence OR out 10 nm.

Alsea Bay boat launches are located on the south shore off of Highway 34.  Follow the signs to the public boat launch at the Port of Alsea and to McKinley’s Marina to access the lower bay.  There are a number of private boat launches in the upper bay along Hwy 34.  Launch at the Kozy Kove Marina in the community of Tidewater to fish in the tidal reach of the river channel. 

155.9 Alsea Bay South Shore access is gained by turning west into the beach access parking lot at the intersection of Highway 34 and Highway 101. The parking area is located behind the Historic Alsea Interpretive Center. The Historic Alsea Interpretive Center offers the visitor interesting exhibits on marine life. Take the stairway to the bay and pump for sand shrimp, fish for salmon during the annual migration or rake for cockles in this section of the bay.

156.6 William P. Keady Wayside access to the southeast shore of Alsea Bay is from the stairs built by the City of Waldport. Pump for sand shrimp or rake for cockles in this section of the bay.

157.1 Governor Patterson State Memorial Wayside is one the access point to the south shore spit of the entrance to Alsea Bay. Dig for razor clams along the sandy beach from the entrance to Alsea Bay to Yachats.

159.0 Waconda Beach is located between Beachside Beach and the Governor Patterson State Wayside and is a fair location to fish for redtail surfperch and dig for razor clams. Parking is very limited along the west side of Highway 101.

159.3 Beachside State Park is a full service State Park located north of Tillicum Beach and is a fair location to fish for redtail surfperch. The sandy beach above Yachats is listed by ODFW as a location to dig for razor clams.

160.5 Tillicum Beach is a full service State Park located 3.5 miles north of Yachats and is a fair location to fish for redtail surfperch and a good location to dig for razor clams.

163.6 Smelt Sands Beach is located .7 of a mile north of the Yachats River Bridge and is home of the 804–beach trail. The trail provides excellent access to the rocky shore. The rocky beach is famous as the location where smelt are caught by dipping nets into the tidal surge to catch the spawning smelt. The smelt run during July. The area is an excellent location to fish for perch, sea trout, bass, cabezon and lingcod. The rocky shore from Smelt Sands Beach south along the coast to Strawberry Hill offer anglers some of the most productive locations along the Oregon Coast that consistently produce fine catches of bass, sea trout, perch, cabezon and lingcod.

164.4 The Yachats State Park is a day use park located in Yachats. To access the park turn west on 2nd Street or west on Marine Drive 163.8. The fishing for perch, sea trout, bass, cabezon and lingcod is excellent. Refer to the Oregon Sport Fishing Regulation restricting the taking of shellfish or marine invertebrates within the Yachats Marine Garden. The area is not only popular with surfers and anglers but is ideally suited for most recreational activities.

164.8 The Yachats Ocean Beach Wayside is an access road that parallels the rocky shore for .5 of a mile. To access the Wayside turn west onto the access road immediately south of the Yachats River Bridge. The fishing for bass, cabezon, greenling and lingcod is excellent.

166.9 The Devil’s Churn is just north of the visitor center and 2.7 miles south of Yachats. Park at either the visitor center or in the turnouts along Highway 101. The best fishing is on the rocky area south of the Devils Churn. The fishing for perch, sea trout, bass, cabezon and lingcod is excellent.

167.1 Cape Perpetua Auto Tour is a short drive to the top of the Cape. The view on a clear day is absolutely breath taking. The basalt monolith rising 803 feet above the ocean shore is the highest point immediately fronting the ocean below on the Oregon Coast. The view from the top is a challenging reward for those with the energy to hike the trail to the top.

167.3 The Cape Perpetua Visitor Center is located 1 mile north of Neptune beach. There is a vehicle access fee to park in Cape Perpetua Recreational Area. There is ample parking for all vehicles at the visitor center and limited parking available along highway 101. Follow the hiking trail down to the rocky shore. Fish from the rocks south to Cook’s Chasm. The fishing for perch, sea trout, bass, cabezon and lingcod is excellent. The taking of shellfish and invertebrates within the Cape Perpetua Marine Garden is closed except for the excellent digging of razor clams and the taking of a single mussel for fishing. There are 26 miles of hiking trails that take visitors to areas of incredible beauty and vistas that are truly inspirational. The center provides visitors with a wealth of information and displays about the daily lives of Native Americans. The history of Cape Perpetua and the surrounding area goes back 5,000 years.

Credit for discovering Cape Perpetua belongs to Captain James Cook on March 7, 1778. Captain Cook named Cape Perpetua in honor of St. Perpetua, an early Christian who was murdered on March 7, in the year 203. The information provided by the Visitor Center can only enhance the quality of your trip.

168. 2 Neptune Beach is located 3.6 miles south of Yachats and is a good location to fish for perch, sea trout, bass, cabezon and lingcod. Refer to the Oregon Sport Fishing Regulation restricting the taking of shellfish or marine invertebrates within the Neptune State Park Reserve.

168. 5 Neptune Beach has two parking lots. The parking is limited on both locations. There is a restroom located at this one. Neptune Beach is a good location to fish for perch, sea trout, bass, cabezon and lingcod. The sandy beach associated with Neptune Beach and the Cape Perpetua Visitor Center offers excellent digging for razor clams.

169.3 Strawberry Hill is located north of the Bob Creek Wayside and south of Neptune Beach 5 miles south of Yachats. There is excellent fishing for all rockfish species from the rocky ledges and for striped seaperch from the beach.

170.0 The Bob Creek Wayside is located north of Searose beach. There is a fairly large sea cave under the Bray's Point overlook. The fishing for sea trout, bass, cabezon, lingcod and striped seaperch is good.

171.3 Searose Beach is located between Stonefield beach and the Bob Creek Wayside. The fishing for striped seaperch and redtail surfperch is good. Access is gained by parking at the pullout located on the north side of the Tenmile Creek.

171.5 Stonefield Beach State Wayside is located just south of Tenmile Creek. The fishing for redtail surfperch is good.

172.6 Tokatee Klootchman State Wayside beach access.

173.9 Rock Creek Beach is a sandy beach located between the rocky beaches of Roosevelt and Stonefield. Fishing for redtail surfperch is good.

175.0 Roosevelt Beach is located north of the Muriel Ponsler Wayside.

175.3 The Muriel Ponsler Wayside has limited parking.

176.0 The Carl G. Washburn State Park is a full service park and is located south of the Muriel Ponsler Wayside. The fishing for striped seaperch is good over the rocky beach. China Creek is named after the coolies that worked in the creek for Gold.

177.2 Trailhead parking for access to the China Creek Trail, the Valley Trail, the Hobbit Trail and the trail to the beach is from a turnout on the eastside of Highway 101.

178.2 Devil’s Elbow is located between Cape Creek and Heceta Head.  The entrance to the parking area for the Devil’s Elbow and the Heceta Head Lighthouse is located immediately south of the service entrance to the lighthouse.  The lighthouse was built in 1884 and it cast a light 21 miles seaward.

The lighthouse is the most photographed landmark on the Oregon Coast.  The best location from which to photograph the lighthouse is from one of several turnouts on Highway 101 south of the Devil’s Elbow.  The ghost of the lighthouse keeper’s daughter is rumored to walk the halls of the light keeper’s house.  Heceta Head is named after Spanish Explorer Bruno Heceta who discovered the headland in 1775.  The fishing for pileperch, striped perch, sea trout, shallow water rockfish and lingcod is excellent during spring from the basalt rocky shelves that are only exposed during an outgoing tide or at low tide.     

179.2 The Sea Lion Cave is one of the most popular attractions on the Oregon Coast.  The cave was discovered in 1880 by retired sea captain, William Cox.  Captain Cox entered the cave from the ocean by skiff and found himself trapped inside the cave by a storm for several days.

181.2 Baker Beach overlook is located on the turnout on Highway 101. 

The view of Baker Beach in the foreground and Heceta Beach, the jetty at the mouth of the Siuslaw River and the Oregon Dunes National Recreational Area in the background give promise to the unlimited recreational opportunity.  Follow the stairs to access the trail that leads to Baker Beach below.

182.2 Baker Beach as pictured above is located north of Florence and is accessed by turning west onto Baker Beach Road from Highway 101 or via the footpath from the overlook on Hwy 101.  Baker Beach is a good location to fish for redtail surfperch and to dig for razor clams south to Heceta Beach.  Equestrian enthusiasts are welcome at Baker Beach.  The beach is so popular with equestrians, on weekends, that it is difficult to find a place to park.

182.2 Baker Beach Access to Lilly Lake. Lilly Lake is the lake that comes into view as your vehicle decsends the hill on Hwy 101. Turn west onto Baker Beach Rd. and continue to the Lillly Lake Trail. Take the trail to the 1.6 acre lake. Lily Lake contains native cutthroat trout catch and release only using files and artificial lures.  

185.4 Sutton Lake Recreational Area is a full service recreational area located north of Florence and is accessed by turning west into the Sutton Lake Recreational Area access road.  The beach is a good location to fish for redtail surfperch and to dig for razor clams.

Sutton Lake - 101 acres; north of Florence, east of Highway 101. Yellow perch, largemouth bass, brown bullhead, blue-gill.

187.3 Heceta Junction Lakes are located just west of the Heceta Junction and Hwy 101. The lakes contain largemouth bass, however the lakes have limited public access.

187.3 Heceta Beach is located at Florence via Heceta Beach Road 3 miles north of the junction of Highway 101 and Highway 138 or from any of a number of streets in Florence.  Park at the end of the road and walk to the beach.  Dig for razor clams south toward the north jetty or northward along the beach.  Heceta Beach has an excellent reputation for digging razor clams and for surf fishing for redtail surfperch.  The beach possibly offers the most productive razor clam digging south of aside.  The city of Florence was named after the three–masted bark Florence, which sunk offshore during a storm in November 1875.

Mercer Lake - 341 acres; north of Florence, east of Highway 101. Yellow Perch, largemouth bass, black crappie, brown bullhead.

Collard Lake - Access to the 31 acre lake is limited. The lake is located north of Florence, east of Highway 101 and contains largemouth bass and cutthroat trout.

Clear Lake is a 153 acre natual dune lake. The lake supports largemouth bassis and cutthroat trout. Access is limited to the hardy souls who are able to hike into the lake.

Ackerley Lake is small lake tucked between Clear Lake and Munsel Lake.

Munsel Lake - 93 acres; north of Florence, east of Highway 101. Yellow perch, largemouth bass, bluegill, brown bull-head.

The City of Florence is home to the Rhododendron Festival the second-oldest flower festival in Oregon and third – oldest on the West Coast and is just one year younger than the Portland Rose Festival. The Oldest flower festival on the west coast is the Tournament of Roses in Pasadena, California.

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