Summer Steelhead Fishing | Best Rivers on the Oregon Coast

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On the Oregon coastline, summer steelheading takes a back seat to fall salmon and winter steelhead fishing.

But five river systems south of the Columbia River have very good runs of steelhead that arrive in the spring and can be caught right through the season’s best weather.

In the middle to late summer, these streams can run low and clear. For the best success during hotter weather, fish early and late in the day, try smaller and less flashy baits, lures and flies, and use stealth when approaching likely holding water.

From north to south, check out these rivers for summer steelhead:

Wilson River Summer Steelhead Fishing

The Wilson is close enough to Portland to attract plenty of anglers, but most come for the fall Chinook salmon and winter steelhead (see our overview, Wilson River Fishing).

The summer steelhead run is modest by comparison but at times produces good results.

The Wilson has excellent access along Highway 6 that helps spread out the angling pressure. Pull-outs offer plenty of park-and-fish options but don’t cross through private property without permission.

The river is open for fin-clipped steelhead up to the South Fork all year, and the summer fish generally make their appearance by May or June and will be well-distributed, including in lower section of the river.

Fishing is fair to good for a couple of months and then tapers off when the water drops and warms in the second half of summer. During this time, stick to cooler waters of the upper river.

When most anglers are turning their attention to fall salmon, steelheading for these fish already in the river picks back up with rain and cooler weather arrives in late September or October, especially in the upper reaches.

For more on this fishery:
Winter & Summer Steelhead Fishing on Oregon’s Wilson River

Nestucca River Summer Steelhead Fishing

The Nestucca is south of the Wilson River, entering the ocean at Pacific City, and usually out-fishes it for summer steelhead.

The Nestucca has the region’s summer steelhead hatchery on its Three Rivers tributary and gets a larger smolt plant.

Some years it can have very good summer steelhead runs, with the best fishing coming with moderate flows of late spring and again in early fall.

Three Rivers, which enters the “Big Nestucca” at Hebo, gets a good number of the hatchery fish.

There is a lot of private property along the Nestucca, especially down low.

The mouth of Three Rivers is a popular access spot for both boaters and bank anglers, and there is additional bank angling along with launches at Rock Hole, Farmer Creek and Cloverdale.

Like the Nestucca, Three Rivers is open to fishing for fin-clipped steelhead all year, but it definitely produces better when there is a reasonable flow.

Three Rivers has good bank access at the Cedar Creek Hatchery, near the sewage treatment plant in Hebo and a few other spots.

For more on this fishery:
Winter & Summer Steelhead Fishing on Oregon’s Nestucca and Three Rivers

Siletz River Summer Steelhead Fishing

This river flows past the Taft end of Lincoln City, just across Siletz Bay from the Salishan resort, but the better summer steelheading takes place well upstream from May to July and again in the fall.

It is entirely possible to take home a fin-clipped steelhead from this river any month of the year.

Moonshine Park is an excellent starting point, since many of the hatchery-bred fish are returning here.

There also is bank access farther upstream into the Siletz Gorge when a private logging road is opened (generally for weekend anglers), and a lot of the summer steelhead stray up here to escape the warmer water downstream.

The Siletz has the only wild run of summer steelhead returning to the Coast Range Mountains of northwestern Oregon. These un-finclipped fish must be released unharmed, but there are plenty of hatchery-marked fish to take home for dinner.

For more on this fishery:
Winter & Summer Steelhead Fishing on Oregon’s Siletz River

Umpqua River Summer Steelhead Fishing

Hatchery summer steelhead migrate up the mainstem Umpqua starting in early spring.

Most summer steelies (and anglers chasing them) turn up the colder North Umpqua fork, where about 100,000 hatchery smolts are released each year.

The fishing begins as early as March and continues through the fall on the North Fork, which has access at Amacher Park, Whistlers Bend Park, near Colliding Rivers and just below Rock Creek.

The mainstem can produce some summer steelhead in spring and very early summer, while the fish are still moving and before it gets too warm for good steelhead fishing during the summer.

The South Fork does not have a hatchery summer steelhead program. Like the mainstem, it gets too warm for steelhead during the dog days of summer but supports an excellent smallmouth bass population. (The South Fork does have a hatchery winter steelhead run.)

For more on this fishery:
Umpqua River Fishing

Rogue River Summer Steelhead Fishing

upper rogue river summer steelhead fishing
Photo courtesy of Fishing the Rogue

The Rogue offers both standard adult summer steelhead as well as immature “half-pounder” steelhead counted in with the trout bag limit.

In the summer steelhead season, only fin-clipped steelhead may be retained.

Steelhead enter the Rogue nearly all year long, but look for the summers to arrive at the lower river in the best numbers during early summer.

Some of the best summer steelhead fishing actually occurs in September and October upstream, from Grants Pass upriver to below Lost Creek Dam.

Bank access is good in the upper river, including from the hatchery down to the Highway 62 Bridge.

Most half-pounders are caught downriver, including the Agness area near the mouth of the Illinois River.

For more on this fishery:
Rogue River Fishing for Salmon, Steelhead and Trout

Return to Oregon Steelhead Fishing Page

Resources
ODFW weekly recreation report and regulation updates
ODFW annual fishing regulations
National Weather Service forecasts