This mid-valley county is known more for farming than fishing, but it has several smaller creeks that offer ideal habitat for the Willamette Valley’s native cutthroat trout, which can be found here in healthy numbers.
One of those streams also is stocked a couple of times each year with hatchery rainbows.
County anglers also have access to the Willamette River on the county’s eastern border. Fishing in the big river ranges from the possibility of catching everything from little panfish to big Chinook salmon.
The purpose of this article is to point out some of the options anglers might consider further exploring within this county.
For more resources on related fishing topics, click the links we’ve included within the article itself and at the bottom.
One section includes links to fishing spots in all of Polk County’s adjoining counties, including some prime spots for salmon, steelhead and shellfish within a quick drive.
Polk County’s incorporated cities are Dallas, Falls City, Independence, Monmouth and parts of Salem and Willamina. Unincorporated areas include Ballston, Bridgeport, Buena Vista, Eola, Fort Hill, Grand Ronde, Pedee, Perrydale, Rickreall, Valley Junction and Valsetz.
Monmouth is home to Western Oregon State University.
Listed alphabetically, here are some of the best fishing spots in Polk County:
A nice-sized stream system with several fishable tributaries, the Luckiamute flows through southwestern Polk County (with some of the upper system in Benton County) through Pedee.
The Little Luckiamute flows out of the hills and through Falls City.
The mainstem Luckiamute River and most tributaries are now open all year and have modest seasonal trout bag limits beginning in late May. Only artificial lures and flies may be used.
Winter steelhead do run into the Luckiamute, but note zone restrictions pertaining to these fish.
This stream allows seasonal harvest of two wild cutthroat trout per day.
The main fishing area is above the bridge at Mill Creek Park, located off Highway 22 a couple miles south of Buell (northwest of Dallas). Mill Creek Road provides access to the creek.
The no-bait rule applies to this fishery.
This stream flows out of the Coast Range hills, through the middle of Dallas and then along Highway 22 to the Willamette River.
Once stocked in town, the mainstem and tributaries now provide a wild cutthroat trout fishery with the seasonal opportunity to keep two per day starting in late May.
As with the other trout creeks in this area, you may not fish with bait. As with the Luckiamute, there is a run of winter steelhead but restrictions on angling for them.
South Yamhill River
A section of this stream in northwestern Polk County near the main route to Lincoln City and the Spirit Mountain Casino has been stocked each spring with hatchery rainbow trout.
Check the links at the bottom of this article for news of future plantings.
The stream now is open all year, with harvest of two trout allowed from late May through October.
The stocked reach starts near the intersection of highways 18 and 22 close to Willamina and goes upstream to Gold Creek Road Bridge, a few miles east of the casino. Best access is along Yamhill River Road (Fort Hill Road).
You must use artificial lures and flies — no bait allowed in this fork.
Above the mouth of Rock Creek near the casino, the stream is predominantly a wild cutthroat trout fishery.
Part of the stream is legally open to coho salmon angling, but ODFW catch records indicate this is not a particularly active fishery.
This section of the river is fished for warmwater fish in the mainstem and backwater sloughs.
Frequently caught species include smallmouth and largemouth bass, crappie, sunfish and bullhead catfish.
There also are runs of salmon and steelhead that pass through and can be targeted. The strongest of those are the spring Chinook salmon and summer steelhead that run through in mid- to late spring.
Look for coho to appear in late September into October.
Some of these coho are headed into the Yamhill River while others are heading to other tributaries, especially the the Santiam River, which enters the Willamette just across the county line south of Buena Vista, where there is a boat launch.
In the warmer months, there are active smallmouth bass in that area as well.
For an overview on fishing in the Willamette system, read Willamette River Fishing.
Fishing in Neighboring Counties
Yamhill County: To the north, includes a similar array of small stream fishing plus a couple of heavily stocked trout ponds.
Marion County: To the east, a large county with good salmon and steelhead opportunities in the North Santiam watershed and hugely popular Detroit Reservoir.
Linn County: To the southeast, home of great salmon and steelhead runs into the South Santiam River and some of Oregon’s best kokanee fishing in Green Peter Reservoir.
Benton County: To the south, trout streams and a stocked trout pond just beyond the county line.
Lincoln County: To the west, offers a wide variety of salmon, trout and steelhead fishing options, plus excellent ocean fishing, crabbing and clamming.
Tillamook County: To the northwest, loaded with coastal salmon and steelhead fisheries, excellent crabbing and clamming, and many other angling opportunities.
More Fishing Resources:
In addition to other sources, the following websites were very helpful while compiling these county fishing pages, and the information there is valuable to all Oregon anglers.
For current regulations, trout stocking, weekly angling reports and more, find links on the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Fishing Resources Page.
For boating information about these waters, see the Oregon State Marine Board’s launch locator map.