Siletz River Chinook Salmon Fishing
As with most Oregon coast Chinook salmon fisheries, the catch on the Siletz is best in September and October, with most fish landed in the tidewater areas. Siletz Bay proper, west of Highway 101 between the Taft end of Lincoln City and Salishan Resort, is not as popularly fished as many other bays on the Oregon Coast. Instead, boaters will find access to good fishing on the lower tidewater near Kernville, just inland from the main coastal highway. Additional launches, like ours at Coyote Run, are not far upstream from there along Highway 229. Trollers will often pull herring or spinners through the wider sections, while bait and bobber fishing is popular in the narrower upper tidewater.
Good numbers of fall chinook will enter the free-flowing river (near Strom Park) when rains give the Siletz a good lift, often in October. The best river angling will be in the lower areas of the river, most fall chinook are caught below Siletz, where bank access is somewhat limited due to private property. Try the handful of public shore access points from Mill Park downriver. Boaters should focus their attention on the lowest drifts, such as Ojalla (near the first steel bridge driving upriver) to Morgan Park.
Siletz River Steelhead Fishing
In the winter, hatchery fish released into the Siletz River are from a brood-stock program that uses Wild Steelhead to produce fin-clipped runs for harvest. These fish carry on their parents’ habit of returning later than earlier practices of fish reared in hatcheries for many generations. Therefore, while the very first fish may arri ve around Thanksgiving, and catches can be made up to Christmas most years, expect the very best fishing to be from January through March.
Winter fish will be caught in small numbers in April, which also is the month the first Summer-run fish generally are caught. Numbers build in spring and catches often are best in June and July, until the river gets low and warm in mid- to late summer. Fishing for summer Steelhead often picks up again in late September and well into fall, when cooler temperatures and rainfall can turn a sluggish Summer fish into an aggressive biter that is the trademark fish of the river.
When trying to catch a hatchery Steelhead (with adipose fins clipped) to take home from either run, Moonshine County Park is a good place to start. Drive up Logsden Road and then up Moonshine Park Road to get there. There are ponds near here where young Steelhead (smolts) from the winter strain are acclimated before being released into the river and this creates many of the adults that tend to return and are almost imperceptible from their wild cousins!
Summer-run smolts also are released in three locations in this general area, so this stretch often has good numbers of adult Steelhead that can be harvested by being at the right place, at the right time.
In the summer time, Steelhead will stray into the Gorge upriver from Moonshine Park, looking for cooler water and more abundant feeding conditions. Weekend only no-fee access (and often less crowded fishing conditions) can be found up-river on the privately owned Siletz Gorge Road. Below Moonshine Park there is plenty of private property, so respect owners rights but a bit of access and often high reward can be found at pull-offs, boat ramps and other spots for anglers willing to explore.
Drift boaters will find several good runs to fish in the upper river, they can put in at Moonshine Park and drift down to the Twin Bridges. Another drift can also start at Twin Bridges to Illahee Park known as the Town Drift as it ends at the boat launch in the town of Siletz. Boaters also put in at Illahee and drift a long, scenic (about five miles) loop to Mill Park on the north side of town, then make the short walk through town to get back to their vehicle.