North and South Santiam River: North - Returns of adult steelhead and Chinook are in full swing at Willamette Falls and some of them have started to show up in the Santiam basin. The first Chinook has arrived last week at Upper Bennett dam in Stayton, along with a handful of summer steelhead. As of April 8, they have counted 453 summer steelhead and 385 spring Chinook at the Willamette Falls fish ladder. Flows are coming down making for improved fishing conditions.
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 year-round to hatchery steelhead. Trout harvest season begins May 22. River levels best for fishing are below 3,000 cfs at the Mehama gauge (the Mehama gauge was at 2,630 cfs as of April 8).
South - Flows have moderated lately and will continue to decrease throughout the week as nicer weather moves in. This will make for improved fishing conditions just in time, as more steelhead are moving into the basin. Current flows (as of April 12) are around 2,160 cfs as measured at Waterloo. Current conditions
Anglers can target winter and summer steelhead, which can be found in fair numbers in the upper sections. 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.
The first summer steelhead of 2016 have been reported at Foster dam fish ladder. A few Chinook may have also arrived in the basin.