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 5,100 summer steelhead have passed the Bennett dams in Stayton. Coho salmon should be arriving in the next few weeks and represent the next opportunity for anglers to catch large salmon. 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 1,150 cfs as of Sept. 6.
South Fork - Flows are settling in to normal summer conditions. Current flows (as of Sept. 6) are approximately 850 cfs as measured at Waterloo and are likely to drop further as the summer progresses.
Chinook season is now 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.