The Siuslaw River and its bay can be among Oregon’s elite fall Chinook salmon fishing systems, with 3,000 to 5,000 big kings harvested during its better runs.
An easy drive from the Eugene and Springfield area, the Siuslaw is best fished for salmon in the bay at Florence and through its long tidewater up to Mapleton.
The first Chinook arrive in the bay off Florence by August, and eager anglers will pick up some then and in the first days of September.
Larger numbers of fish and fishermen come in mid-September, and fishing holds up well through October and can be quite productive even into early November.
Bay anglers can launch right in Florence, and upriver you’ll also find public launches in at Cushman, Tiernan and Mapleton.
Trolling with bait or spinners is popular here, with plenty of room to fish in the long bay and tidewater.
Bobber and bait fishing is usually done higher in the tidewater section, including above the ramp at Mapleton.
While boaters have a distinct advantage in the bay and tidewater, bank anglers also can catch salmon here.
One of the best spots to intercept them from shore is in the lower bay where Rhododendron Drive goes along the bay in the vicinity of the waste disposal facility and Humane Society across the street. There is good access and parking along the road shoulder.
Bright Chinook will move above tidewater when rains are heavy enough to give the Siuslaw River level a nice bump, often starting in late September or early October and holding up through November.
Above tidewater, Chinook fishing is best in the lower river, especially below the confluence of Lake Creek at Swisshome, where there is bank access and boat launching.
The half dozen or so miles of free-flowing river from Swisshome down to tidewater offers a couple more public launches and additional bank fishing access at pull-outs along Highway 36.
Note that when lower salmon runs are in the forecast, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife may put emergency restrictions in place here, including limiting the number of wild Chinook that can be harvested in the Siuslaw.
Additional restrictions may also apply to Lake Creek, a major tributary where some Chinook turn to spawn but typically there is very modest salmon harvest. (Lake Creek can be a bit better for hatchery winter steelhead.)
It’s always wise to check for regulation updates before fishing for salmon anywhere in Oregon.
Note: The Siuslaw River and Lake Creek also have good winter steelhead fishing.