The convenient Necanicum River, located in and near Seaside on the Oregon Coast, offers some pretty good winter steelhead fishing along with being a fair bet for cutthroat trout and fall Chinook salmon.
Winter steelhead are a popular quarry, as the stream is planted with hatchery smolts that return from the ocean as beefed-up battlers.
You might find the first winter steelhead in time for Thanksgiving, but most hatchery fish come in during between December and February. Typically the peak steelhead fishing is likely from about Christmas and several weeks into January.
The Necanicum also has a good wild run of winter steelhead, which tend to arrive in better numbers in late winter. These fish have an intact adipose fin and must be released unharmed, but they provide excellent sport.
Harvests of winter steelhead in recent years have numbered in the 500-700 fish range, with some better years hitting close to 1,000. It’s on our list of best small steelhead fishing streams in Northwest Oregon.
The Necanicum is not planted with summer steelhead, although a small handful may be tagged some years after straying from other coastal streams with summer steelhead or from the Columbia River system. There aren’t enough of these to target on purpose, but would more likely be a bonus for trout or salmon anglers.
Speaking of salmon, the Necanicum has a fair run of fall Chinook salmon, with a few hundred harvested most seasons. Look for these to be in the river from September to November, with peak catches most years in October or possibly early November when there is better streamflow.
Chinook fishing is typically best in tidewater and also in bigger pools in the lower river, including the Big Spruce Hole at Klootchie Creek Park.
The Necanicum doesn’t have a spring Chinook salmon run and its coho are wild and must be released unharmed, except for a few strays that may show up.
This is a good trout stream during the open season, currently late May through October. Resident cutthroat trout can be found all year, usually with some good success right at the spring opener.
Another time to go after trout is in the late summer and early fall, when sea-run cutthroat return to fresh water. Intercept them first in the tidewater sections in Seaside during mid- to late summer. They also will bite lures and flies aggressively in the lower sections of the river itself.
U.S. 26 and U.S. 101 parallel the river for much of the section open to fishing (downstream from the bridge on Highway 53), but there’s a lot of private property, so you’ll have to look around a bit and maybe try asking permission if you want to get into sections that aren’t otherwise accessible.
However, there are a handful of good access options, including along Highway 101 at Klootchie Creek Park and farther upriver at Black’s Bridge (the only bridge across the mainstem along Highway 26), where a private timber company allows river access. Both of those locations are typically among spots where the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife plants hatchery steelhead smolts, so returning adults may tend to gather there as well.
The stream passes close enough to Highway 101 just south of and inside Seaside that there are places to access the lowest section of river and upper tidewater. You may also take out a small drift boat if you launched above.
The tidewater and bay section is best fished for fall Chinook salmon and sea-run cutthroat trout in late summer and early fall.
The small Necanicum Bay in Seaside also has some modest opportunities for crabbing and soft-shell clamming and for catching some ocean fish species, such as perch and flounder. There is a launch near downtown and most of these ocean species are caught in the saltier lower end of the bay.