North and South Santiam River: Fish can be found throughout the river, but are more concentrated in the upper sections (Mehama to Packsaddle), where summer steelhead can find cooler water. Counts at Willamette Falls as of early September show just around 21,700 summer steelhead had entered the upper basin. Of those, over 3,370 made it above Stayton on the North Santiam through the end of August.
The river is now closed to spring Chinook harvest. In a very short time, however, the coho will arrive, providing another opportunity to catch salmon. The first few coho have already passed the Willamette Falls fish ladder, however, only one has been counted so far passing the monitoring station at Stayton . When the bite is on, bobbers and jigs are the preferred angling method with spoons, spinners and egg clusters also being effective. Currently the entire river below Packsaddle Park (near the Minto Fish Facility) is open to adipose fin-clipped steelhead and trout fishing and will remain open to Oct. 31.
River levels best for fishing are below 3,000 cfs at the Mehama gauge (currently the gauge is around 1,320 cfs).
South - Flows in the South Santiam below Foster dam remain at 1,530 cfs as of Sept. 15 and should remain fairly stable for the short term. These are excellent conditions coinciding with the diminishing influx of new fish into the basin. Spring Chinook and summer steelhead numbers at Willamette Falls indicated an improved run this year, and fish showed up in good numbers to the base of Foster dam. As a reminder, spring Chinook fishing closed on Aug. 15 and will not reopen until Nov. 1.
Best sections to fish are from Wiley Creek to Pleasant Valley boat ramps, around Waterloo County Park, and from Lebanon down to the confluence with the North Santiam. As of late August just under 2,700 summer steelhead had entered the fish ladder and nearly 2,450 were recycled back down river for another angler opportunity. The recycling has now ended for the year.