Slamming salmon on the Siuslaw!

In spite of ominous warnings issued by salmon fisheries officials predicting “low numbers” of returning fall salmon this season, the salmon angling experience on the Siuslaw and other coastal rivers has been far better than anyone expected. 

With predictions so off-base, the ODFW is likely scratching their heads over why their data was apparently so wrong this season. 

In fact, fishing on the lower Siuslaw River – under mostly clear blue skies, with a solid tide cycle, and a surprising number of early fall chinook in the Siuslaw River Bay – has been red hot. 

The river lit up in the first week of September with some of the best results we’ve seen in several years and is still going strong. 

Like any salmon run, some days are better than others, but the quality of the bite that Siuslaw fishermen have already experienced is surprisingly consistent, with plenty of fish coming in at over 20 pounds. It is a one-chinook daily limit, but from what I’ve seen on the water, the individual catch rate has been better than seasons’ past. 

Fish have been caught on the Siuslaw from Tiernen Landing down river to the Coast Guard Station. The largest concentration of early fall salmon gather in front of the Cushmen Dock, then upstream past the Cushmen Trestle to about the Dairy Hole.  

Fishing pressure has been heavy and persistent, so much so that the Port of Siuslaw parking lot was sold out by sunrise on several days last week. 

It’s good to finally see so many happy, local salmon fishermen. 

Because of the one-salmon limit this fall, river guides and the more experienced fishermen have been spending less time working the bay waters. I know of several guides last weekend that had a six-fish limit by 8 a.m. and had their boats loaded on the trailer and heading home within the hour. The sunrise bite has been the best bite of the day, followed by the high tides, which in the recent cycle, have been coming in about midday.  

Fishermen trolling skateboard-style flashers in combination with plug-cut herring or 360 spinners behind triangle flashers have been tagging the most fish. The cooler and damp weather conditions that reached the Pacific Northwest last week have been working to the fisherman’s advantage; about a five-degree drop in water temperature has very likely contributed to the number of successful outings salmon anglers have already accumulated in recent days.  

Bank anglers have also been successful in the lower bay, casting heavy spinners from the jetty in front of the Humane Society on Rhododendron Drive.  

But be prepared: horsing a big salmon to the bank is a tough job. You need a heavy rod and a quality reel. I highly recommend bringing a net and being extremely cautious moving around the breakwater boulders. 

It’s way too early to expect to find any salmon in the river above Mapleton. We need a good drenching rainfall to fire that part of the river up – something not in the forecast.  But if this early fall salmon fishery holds steady, up river bank fisherman, in the next few weeks, fishermen could also see the best salmon fish the Siuslaw has had in several years, too. 

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