North and South Santiam River: North - Returns of adult steelhead have all but ceased this late in the season at Willamette Falls but the overall numbers show a huge improvement from last year, especially with summer steelhead. Many of these fish are destined for the Santiam basin. About 5,200 summer steelhead have passed the Bennett dams in Stayton. A few coho salmon have also arrived and are available to anglers below Stayton. As a reminder, angling for coho above the Stayton-Scio highway bridge is closed until Oct. 15. Chinook season is closed until Oct. 15 on the entire river.
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. River levels best for fishing are below 3,000 cfs at the Mehama gauge; the river flow is at 3,470 cfs as of Oct. 10 following the last few rainy days.
Anglers may keep up to five hatchery trout from the mouth to Big Cliff dam through Oct. 31.
South Fork - A little bit of extra water is being spilled out of Foster dam to facilitate salmon spawning. Current flows as of Oct. 10 are approximately 1,250 cfs as measured at Waterloo and are likely to stay that way through the rest of the month
Chinook season is closed until Oct. 15. There are still plenty of summer steelhead in the river, however, with most fish found above Waterloo. Further downstream below Lebanon there is solitude, smallmouth bass and perhaps the occasional coho salmon waiting for the intrepid angler. Recycling of fish downstream has ended for the season. Best times to catch these fish are early and late in the day. Anglers may keep up to five hatchery trout below Foster dam through Oct. 31.