Nehalem Bay at Wheeler


We spent a few days out at the coast, so I thought I’d test out my bigger-water chops. This was the tail-end of the fall Coho run, and since my first steelhead last month, I’ve been itching to catch bigger fish. A tip pointed me toward the Wheeler dock, right in the center of the town along Hwy 101. I bought some “Coho killer” lures, which the guy at the fishing shop assured me would slay Coho. Alas, the hooks tangled in the line every other cast, which frustrated me to no end, so I switched back to my usual spinners. Every time I’m out I think about how I need to start making my own…

Not really sure how to approach fishing such large water from one spot, I just chucked it out as far as possible and varied retrieval speed and depth. It really felt like a crap shoot, with no way to know whether or not there were any fish at all. None of the boats I saw trolling up and down the river had any success, which made me think my chances were even more limited. I did manage one bite on a big pink and silver spinner, but no fish.

I liked fishing the tide, knowing that a window for good fishing is open for a limited amount of time made it feel like I was getting the most out of the occasion. As soon as high tide hit, groups of cormorants started fishing around the dock, with much more success than I had. A lone seal was also bobbing around, and I actually saw him watching me. It was good for a laugh until I realized he was probably just waiting for me to catch something so he could come in for an easy lunch while I was reeling it in. No luck buddy.

The second day I tried for some jetty fishing at Barview Park north of Tillamook, But the wind was howling and the rain coming in sideways. I took two steps onto the rocks and made two casts before the possibility of getting blown off the rocks outweighed the possibility of catching any fish. Nearby, the Coast Guard took the opportunity to practice helicopter rescues in the bay during bad weather.


I returned to the Wheeler dock for another hour with no success. The following day we picked up some fresh crab at a place near the Nehalem jetty, and it made me wish I’d taken the previous morning to rent a crab pot instead of getting wet and windblown at Barview jetty. At least I would have been sure to bring something home, and nothing beats Oregon Dungeness crab.


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