At the turn of the century Oregon's ninth largest bay was a deepwater port of entry, but over time the bay has been subjected to extensive sedimentation. Studies show the ocean is the source of most of the sediment deposited on the tidal flats in the bay. The numerous logs and root wads marooned on the tidal flats have become small islands. The bar at the entrance to Siletz Bay is dangerous to cross. Not at anytime should the small boater attempt to cross the bar. You have to use caution when crabbing or fishing in Siletz Bay. You should only crab or fish in the lower bay on a high incoming tide. The high current velocity of the major tidal phase of an outgoing spring tide reaches seven knots at the entrance, enough force to pull an underpowered vessel or one having engine failure over the bar into the surf jeopardizing the lives of all aboard.
Siletz Bay is one of Oregon's most popular bays to fish for Chinook salmon. The Siletz River has both a spring and fall run of Chinook salmon, but it is the fall run that generates all the excitement as demonstrated by the congested boat traffic in the above photograph.
Chinook salmon return to Siletz Bay during the spring and in the fall. The master of the salmon demanded tribute from Indians before they could pass Medicine Rocks according to the Siletz Indian legend. Medicine Rocks consists of three rocks, on two of which the heads of persons may be recognized. On the left side of the master of the salmon stands his wife, both of them easily recognized; on his right side is their dead child.* Honor the legend by leaving something and the salmon will return forever.
Steve Martin caught the these beauties from the beach at Taft in Siletz Bay during the last half September into early October. Steve not only fishes from the noth shore of Siletz Bay he spends much of his time crabbing, hunting for agates and surfing local beaches. The fishing for Chinook and coho was very productive and steve is nearly tagged out. Thanks Steve for sharing your catch with us, Bill
Historically, the number of returning spring Chinook salmon is small. The catch rate for spring Chinook averages a 170 fish per year. The run begins about the last week of May peaking June and running into July. Spring Chinook unlike their fall cousins spend very little time in the bay or the lower tidal reach but instead hold in the upper tidal reach of the river channel. Fish for spring Chinook salmon 6 miles upstream from the Highway 101 Bridge to the head of tidewater located 15.5 miles upstream at Cedar Creek. Launching facilities are limited in the upper tidal reach of the Siletz River. Launch a boat at Strom Park and fish with the incoming tide to the head of tidewater or fish downstream to Sunset Landing with the outgoing tide. Fishing is also productive in the river above the head of tidewater. Launch at Morgan Park and fish the deeper holes to the takeout at Strom Park but the drift boater must be prepared to deal with the tide.
Historically, small numbers of fall Chinook salmon enter the Siletz River from the last week of August through the middle of September. The number of returning fish increase during the last half of September peaking in October. The catch rate averaged approximately 1500 fish per year and is dominated by a high percentage of 5 year old fish followed by 4, 6 and 3 year old fish. The best fishing for newly arriving fall Chinook salmon occurs in the lower bay during the incoming tide of the major tidal exchange of spring tides or neap tides especially when the incoming tide coincides with sunrise or sunset. The next most productive fishing period occurs at sunrise or sunset during the incoming tide of the minor tidal exchange in the daily tidal cycle. Daybreak is that magical time of day when Chinook salmon bite the best. Be sure to have the bait in the water one half hour before sunrise. Fishing is most productive from ½ hour before sunrise to midmorning and from late afternoon until ½ hour after sunset. The main channel runs northwest from the Highway 101 Bridge towards the sand spit turning north paralleling the sand spit to the bar. The approximately five mile boat ride from Siletz Moorage to the bar discourages anglers from fishing in the lower bay. Early in the run concentrate fishing in the lower bay trolling a plug cut herring with the incoming tide from the entrance at the bar along the channel paralleling the sand spit to the Hwy 101 bridge. Troll or back bounce with the outgoing tide from the Highway 101 bridge to the sand spit with a plug cut herring. Stay well clear of the entrance to the bar and the lower bay during the outgoing tide.
During the peak of the run most anglers concentrate fishing in the lower tidal reach of the river channel above the Highway 101 Bridge to Sunset Landing. Troll a plug cut herring, spinner bait combinations, rainbow colored spinners or silver colored bait wrapped Flatfish lures with a chartreuse head with the incoming tide. The competition for the more productive holes and travel lanes is intense. To avoid the congestion most anglers anchor on the up current side of the more productive holes and fish with a plug cut herring, bait wrapped Flatfish lures, spinner bait combinations, spinners or wobblers.
Back bounce or back troll with the outgoing tide from Sunset Landing downstream to the Highway 101 Bridge fishing with bait wrapped Flatfish lures, spinner bait combinations, spinners or wobblers. Fish upstream from Windy Bend drifting with the tide or by anchoring above the deeper holes during the last half of the outgoing tide through low slack tide fishing with a bobber using a walnut sized gob of salmon eggs and sand shrimp. Accent the salmon eggs and sand shrimp with a small length of pink, red, chartreuse or orange yarn.
Coho salmon return to Siletz Bay during the last half of October and run through November. Troll in the lower bay from the sand spit near the bar trolling plug cut herring, hoochies or streamer flies with the incoming tide to the Highway 101 bridge. Troll these baits behind a diver or wire spreader or diver in the upper half of the water column. Troll in lower tidal reach in the river channel from the Highway 101 Bridge to Sunset Landing with plug cut herring, pink, rainbow or chartreuse colored spinners. Remember coho salmon prefer bait trolled near the surface at speeds between 3 and 5 knots.
Cutthroat trout return to Siletz Bay from the middle of July through August. Early in the run fish from the Cannery Hole seaward to the Siletz Spit during the incoming tide trolling Doc Shelton spinners rigged with night crawlers. After the first week of August fish the entire length of the upper reach of tidewater trolling Doc Shelton spinners rigged with night crawlers. Fish from shore in the upper tidal reach of the estuary casting spinners or by fishing on the bottom of the deeper holes with night crawlers or crawfish tails.
Redtail surfperch, pileperch, walleye surfperch, silver surfperch and striped seaperch enter the bay in late spring. The fishing ranges from fair to excellent through fall depending on the tides and the weather conditions. The best fishing occurs during June and July in the lower bay along the main channel paralleling the sand spit upstream to the pilings at the Cannery Hole. Fish in the areas of the upper bay that are adjacent to eelgrass beds and along the channel that drains Millport Slough up to the entrance of the Siletz Bay Natural Wildlife Refuge.
White sturgeon enter Siletz Bay in small numbers sporadically throughout the year. The catch rate for keeper size fish averages less than 15 fish per year with the high count of 52 fish landed. The best fishing occurs in the lower tidal reach of the river channel above the Highway 101 Bridge from December through March. The best time to fish for sturgeon is two hours before low tide. Mud and sand shrimp are the most productive bait. The sturgeon fishery is a small one that is of interest to local anglers only
Sand Sole enter Siletz Bay in small numbers from April through August.
Bank fishing for salmon at the natural entrance to the bay has become a lost art. At one time the fishing for salmon from the north shore of the entrance to Siletz Bay was so popular it was hard to find a spot from which to fish. Fishing for salmon and perch is excellent from the north shore at the entrance of Siletz Bay. Bank fishing along Highway 229 for Chinook salmon is excellent on the lower river immediately upstream from Siletz Moorage. Anglers either fish with spinners or bobbers. Fishing with herring can be productive but the crabs steal most of the bait. Pullouts along the highway with heavily used trails leading down to the river usually disclose the location of the more productive fishing holes along the river. One of the best holes is located approximately 100 hundred yards upstream from a singlewide silver mobile home that is across the river from the highway. Another productive location is the Movie House Hole. The movie house was originally used as a set in the movie, “Sometimes a Great Notion”, starring Henry Fonda and Richard Jaeckel. The hole at the head of tidewater located at Cedar Creek is one of the most productive on the river. Spinners or salmon eggs are the most productive bait used by anglers. The best fishing occurs at daybreak and on the tide change. Fish for perch from the north shore of the bay at the entrance at the community of Taft or under the Highway 101 Bridge over Millport Slough or the Siletz River.
Clam digging in Siletz Bay historically has been limited to softshell clams. Purple varnish clams are colonizing the area of the tidal flats near the Schooner Creek Wayside.
Crabbing is good from late spring to early fall but most productive during July and August in the lower bay from Cutler City seaward to the entrance of the bay. Crabbing casting a Crab Hawk from the shore is very productive at Taft.
SiletzBayboat launches are limited to the Siletz Moorage located on the north shore of the upper bay at Kernville. The limited launching facilities can interfere with timely launching of the boat. There are several good RV parks with private boat launches located up river in lower tidal reach. They are Coyote Rock RV Park, Sportsman’s Landing and Sunset Landing. Lincoln County operates a free public boat launch located in upper tidal reach at Strom Park and in the river above Strom Park at Morgan Park.
121.4 Siletz Spit is accessed through the parking lot at the Market Place at Salishan. Turn west into the parking lot from Highway 101. The hiking trail to the sand spit is located in the right back corner of the parking lot. It takes approximately 15 minutes to walk the nature trail to the beach.
Internet Links of Interest for Siletz Bay:
Click HERE for the 10 day weather forecast for Lincoln City.
Click on the Northwest River Levels to view the height of the river levels for Northwest Oregon.
Click HERE to view the height of the river level for the Siletz River near Siletz.
Click HERE to view the navigational hazards of concern for crossing the bar at Siletz Bay.
Return to Fishing in Oregon's Bay.