What have the Silvers been eating lately?

Many folks have enjoyed some great fishing for slivers this summer in the ocean offshore Oregon. The season in which hatchery (adipose fin-clipped) coho may be harvest by recreational anglers is over, but there will be another period of harvest permitted soon, and fishing should be great so if you can make plans to go, I encourage you to do so. This next short season will allow us to retain any fin-clipped and non-clipped coho, but it is important to check regulations regarding seasons, daily limits, and hook regulations.

The fly fishing in the ocean has been awesome to, say the least, and the fish have been relatively large this season and this indicates that they have been feeding very well indeed. As a biologist/angler, I am always curious about what these fish have been eating from day to day. The ocean near Pacific City last year seemed to be teeming with baitfish, mostly anchovies, but we have not been seeing big concentrations of bait fish this season. What has been common, at least on the days I have been on the ocean, is what my commercial buddy refers to as “crab spawn”.

This is actually the first year I have been out often enough, and conditions were just right, that I was able to see the elusive “crab spawn” floating around near the surface of the ocean.

On some days, the crab spawn (juvenile crabs) have been concentrated in current rips and the silvers have really been chowing down on them. A few of the photos here are common examples of stuffed to the gills conditions we have observed in the fish we have killed.

One might wonder (all my friends have) if we should have been fishing flies imitating these little crabs, instead of the 3-4 inch long bucktails we have been using. Nah, I say – the larger bucktail flies give the coho something to notice better than they would if we were fishing a fly less than the size of a dime, floating around among ten thousand other little crabs. The big bucktail and the motion we impart gets the salmon’s attention right quick, and they have a strong genetic impulse to eat baitfish even if there aren’t many in the water on any given day or hour.

Oh well, the crab are obviously providing great food for the salmon.

Have fun out there and fish safe.

Jay Nicholas, August 2014

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2 Responses to What have the Silvers been eating lately?

  1. Mrmachinist says:

    Wow, thats super gross,…..reminds me of using anything but a caddis durring the spring caddis blizzards here in the valley.

  2. Crabsman says:

    Not surprising – the predator-prey relationships among Dungeness crabs is HUGE. They even eat each other during the molting and adolescent stages. This is the first time I’ve seen a picture of a fish with a belly full of eggs though – very cool!

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