The Siletz River and Bay can be excellent producers of fall Chinook salmon on the Central Oregon Coast.
In recent years, Chinook catches have bounced between about 2,000 and 5,000 fall salmon as the runs cycle up and down.
The Siletz enters the Pacific Ocean at the southern end of Lincoln City, perhaps known more for kites and casinos than kings.
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 fished but not as popularly fished as many other bays on the Oregon Coast.
Instead, boaters often find access to good fishing on the lower tidewater near Kernville just inland from the main coastal highway.
Additional launches 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 reaches.
In the river, most fall Chinook are caught below the community of 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, suggests ODFW fish biologist Derek Wilson.
The Siletz is a rarity in the northern half of the coast because it has a wild run of spring Chinook salmon.
These fish tend to be caught from June and throughout the summer, overlapping with the Siletz River’s bigger summer steelhead fishery.
At our latest update, ODFW has applied strict annual limits on wild spring Chinook that may be retained, so check the regulations for the latest updates.
In recent years, the numbers of spring Chinook have been in the hundreds, roughly a tenth of the fall harvest.
Best River Levels
Watch the river gauge closely to determine where and when to fish, particularly for fall Chinook runs.
The tidewater section often is best when the river is running low, because fish congregate here waiting for rain to raise the river level.
If the river level has been sitting below 4 feet, or even a bit higher, stick to trolling or bait and bobber fishing tidewater in the early fall.
When the river is above 4 feet, the river becomes at least an option.
Most river anglers consider the river to be in perfect shape when it is close to 5.5 feet and decent up to 7 feet.
Plunking with bait is better in higher water, peaking at 7 or 7.5 feet or a little higher and worthwhile to about 8.5 feet.
Note: The Siletz River also has very good fishing for summer and winter steelhead that overlap the Chinook salmon runs.
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