The Miami River near Garibaldi is one of the smallest (and least fished) tributaries feeding into the fantastic Tillamook Bay.
The reason the Miami is more lightly fished than the Wilson, Trask and Kilchis is due in large part because of the relatively modest numbers of salmon and steelhead that anglers can take home from this small stream, which has no hatchery plants.
On top of that, its lower section is hard to reach due to private property.
However, the Miami can be a go-to river for anglers who still want to fish even when the larger rivers in the Tillamook Bay region are high and out of shape after recent storms.
On the flip side, success for salmon and steelhead will fall here fast than in those bigger streams, whenever the small river itself falls into gin clear conditions during dry periods.
The Miami River is perhaps best known as one of just two Oregon rivers (the nearby Kilchis River is the other) where anglers can deliberately fish for chum salmon, which in Oregon are at the southern reaches of their range.
There is good access in the upper river along Miami Forest Road (Frank Crane Road) in the Tillamook State Forest.
But that is primarily fished for mostly wild steelhead and trout, and you may need to ask permission or pay a fee to get to the best salmon fishing on this river through private land bordering much of the lower river.
One of the most popular spots to fish is from private property located near Moss Creek, about a mile up the Miami River Road (Miami Foley Road). You’ll pay an access fee there.
Chum Salmon Fishing
These toothy salmon, also called dog salmon, are big and tough enough to break a stout rod and and strip the gears in your best reel, so come loaded for battle.
And while you can fish for chum legally in the Miami River, you must release every one of them unharmed.
Also, while the season at this writing is open from the second half of September through Nov. 15, the best time to fish for chum salmon here is when the bulk of the run typically arrives with decent rainfall in late October and more likely in early November.
While we try to keep this updated, always check with ODFW for current regulations before fishing, especially any type of salmon fishing.
How to catch Chum Salmon
Drifting yarn and Corkies, tossing spinners or casting flies are among tactics that will provoke these powerful fish to strike.
Green and chartreuse are very popular colors for chum, but anglers at times report success with warmer hues such as hot pink and bright orange.
Where to catch Chum Salmon
Chum spawn in the lower reaches of rivers, so fishing higher in the Miami for these fish likely won’t be productive, ODFW fish biologist Robert Bradley said. Prouty Creek, about six miles up the road, is about the highest point biologists find chum and there will be more farther downstream, he said.
The previously mentioned private property near Moss Creek is the most popular spot on this river to catch chum salmon, and you’ll have company there when the run is on.
Another possibility is fishing at the Highway 101 bridge during low tide, when that section is river rather than tidewater, Bradley said.
Chinook Salmon Fishing
There is a modest fall fishery here for wild Chinook salmon, ranging from a few dozen harvested in weak years and a bit better when runs along the coast are strong.
This run overlaps with the chum season and it’s worth a try when other rivers are blown out and high flows on the Miami put these big fish on the move. Fin-clipped fall Chinook and all spring Chinook caught here are strays, but they are fair game for rule-following anglers to keep during the open season.
Coho caught here are nearly always wild and those must be released.
Only fin-marked coho can be kept under the typical zone rules, but finding a legal fish would be a rare instance of a hatchery coho straying from another system where they are planted, such as the Trask River.
However, watch the ODFW website for announcements about when limited numbers of coho can be kept in certain coastal waters, which might include parts of the Tillamook Bay system, but this only happens in years when strong runs are expected.
The Miami River is not planted with hatchery winter or summer steelhead.
During some years, harvest of some stray hatchery winter steelhead is reported by anglers, but don’t come here expecting a big payoff for your grill: The number of hatchery winter steelhead officially tagged here during a season can often be counted on a single hand.
That said, for its size the Miami has a decent run of wild winter steelhead, which anglers can catch and release.
Where to catch Steelhead
Most of these wild steelhead are likely to be caught in the public forest land in the upper mainstem, where access is far better and where steelhead slow down a bit as they move into relatively smaller waters, often above the Chinook and chum salmon spawning areas. (At this writing, all tributaries are closed to fishing.)
That upper river can fall into shape quickly and save the day with some good catch-and-release steelheading when larger rivers are too off-color for productive fishing.
Like other coastal waters, the Miami River is home to native cutthroat trout, including those that spend part of their lives in saltwater of Tillamook Bay and near-shore ocean areas, where they fatten up on shrimp and other forage.
The best time to catch the searun cutthroat trout is when most return to the lower river, typically during the late summer and early fall months.
The mainstem is open seasonally for trout, and the upper section might be a worthwhile bet near the spring opener for resident cutthroat.
Note that at this writing there are no-bait rules in place for much of the trout season on this and many coastal streams, so artificial lures and flies are required until September.