Surf/shore/jetty fish to throw back


Unfortunately, i won't be learning surf or jetty fishing with an experienced fisherman, due to social distancing and the fact that i don't like people. Luckily there are great informational videos online, like PK's videos. Plus, you guys have been a huge help to me, so thanks for that.
I would love a few pointers, though... Like: are there any kinds of fish that i need to throw back fishing on the Oregon coast (without a boat)? Obviously I have gone over (and will go over again) the ODFW marine regulations, just want a little bit of personal experience input.
From what I understand, any halibut that ends up that close to shore is probably sick, so in the rare event I actually catch one I don't expect to keep it.
As far as I know, anything that I'm going to be catching off of our coast or jetties will be "good eatin's." Please let me know if I'm wrong. Left to my own devices, I imagine I would keep anything I caught other than a potentially sick halibut, or salmon (i don't plan on going barbless from the surf...).


Well-known member
You need to be able to identify all of the species that you might encounter, and also have instant recall of the regulations that apply as to whether you can retain or not.

From the surf, you will predominantly encounter surf perch. You might encounter the very, very, very occasional sole. There are a few select places where you might find starry flounder, and some very well known shore spots inside the bays where you can fish for salmon (think SS beach inside the jetty at the mouth of the Columbia).

From the jetties, yah maybe a salmon, more likely rockfish, a possible underling (undersized ling cod that you must release), pile perch, and then greenling and other pogie fish.

On the rockfish, you have many subspecies to learn how to recognize, and the rules on whether and how many you can retain. It changes year to year, so be mindful and dilligent.

In southern Oregon you may encounter striped bass.

Any other encounters would be extraordinary.

When in doubt, throw it back.


In general, jetties will have you with sculpin (cabezon), lingcod, and rockfish. The occasional blue striped surf perch and/or flounder can be caught too. If you fish the surf, you'll be catching redtail surfperch.


Well-known member
Cabezon are a sculpin, but not all sculpin are cabezon.

It is a mistake to encounter a sculpin and conclude "juvenile cabezon".

There are subspecies that are found in the surf, and others found all the way up in fresh tidewater or higher. Neither of these is a cabezon.


I don’t keep all greenling. Some can be a lot smaller than the sabastes species I would rather keep. But, they count to the same limit of five. You sort of want to gauge how you are doing that day. Keep the best of what’s available and comply with the regs—but don’t run a live pot that’s not legal. I just look at each fish. If it’s a good fish I keep it. If it is small, I either use it as bait or give it time to grow. Greenling are both good eating and good bait. Whether you cook it or put it back on the hook it counts as one of five.
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