Dixie Boley knows seafood on Oregon’s South Coast. For 30 years, from 1978 to 2008, she and her late husband, Scott, were commercial salmon fishermen on the Rogue River, just north of their home in Gold Beach.
In 1998, they worked with two other local fishermen to launch Fisherman Direct — a fresh fish market and processing center in an old cannery building in Gold Beach that’s open to visitors seven days a week.
Here, they smoke and sell fresh Oregon rockfish (also called snapper), pink shrimp, lingcod, albacore tuna, shucked oysters, steamer clams, chinook salmon and more by season — both wholesale and directly to hungry locals and visitors. “Our motto is to give good seafood to our local community, and give a little bit of education about Oregon seafood,” Boley says.
All of their fish comes from the waters off Oregon and the Rogue River; most is caught by small-boat fishermen with hook and line, rather than large trawl boats. April marks the start of pink shrimp season, which visitors can get by the pound.
We asked Boley and other locals for the best spots to enjoy fresh seafood on the South Coast. Here’s where to go:
Coos Bay: SharkBite’s Seafood Cafe is known for their stellar locally sourced seafood in a funky, surf-inspired atmosphere. Highlights are the huge local floured and grilled Coos Bay oysters, Dungeness crab cakes, wild Alaskan caught halibut fish n’ chips, halibut burger, crab cake burger and Oregon pink shrimp melt.
Bandon: Fresh, local seafood truly drives the menu at Bandon Fish Market, a casual eatery with not one but five varieties of fish n’ chips: North Pacific “true cod,” local lingcod, rockfish, Alaskan halibut and salmon. Each are dipped in their house batter and fried in trans fat-free soybean oil.
Port Orford: The Crazy Norwegian’s Fish n’ Chips keeps diners happy with their crispy Alaskan Pacific cod, coated in tempura batter and fried golden brown. Local seafood — whether it’s halibut, rockfish or shrimp — frequently land on the specials menu, depending on the season.
Gold Beach: Barnacle Bistro, housed in an old yurt, has long been a locals’ favorite. Owned by Evan Boley, son of Fisherman Direct’s Dixie Boley, the casual bistro puts a fresh spin on the classic tuna melt with Oregon Pacific albacore tuna. Their light and crispy fish n’ chips and wasabi fish tacos are also beloved.
Brookings: Pacific Ocean Harvesters is a fresh fish market and grocery store selling fresh, local seafood — everything from Dungeness crab and oysters to smoked salmon dip, scallops, lingcod, rockfish, albacore tuna and shrimp — direct to visitors from their bright blue storefront. Show up early; when they run out, they close for the day.
Story by Jen Anderson
Photo by Justin Bailie