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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
January 12, 2004

North Santiam River Report

Slow snowmelt last week is providing delayed runoff into Detroit Lake, which is at the low winter level now. As the snow melts, the lake will fill. However, flows out of Detroit have increased to match the runoff, so the North Santiam River is high for an unknown time. We just don’t know how quickly the weather will melt the snow, which is visible on all the ridgetops. The Little North Fork is very fishable, and will get even better until the next storm.

A couple of trees fell into the North Santiam a week ago, but they can both be avoided if boaters pay attention. One is a mile below Fishermen’s Bend, and the other is below Guides Island. The area that normally has the tree problems, between Shelburn and Green’s Bridge, is clear at this time.

Winter steelhead have been coming up the Willamette into the Santiam system, but most are native fish that we release. Since most of the winter steelhead spawning beds are covered over by Detroit Lake, we really should have mitigation hatchery winter steelhead to compensate for the flood control that the valley towns need. Because of the endangered species listings, mitigation fish have to be raised from native broodstock and raised in North Santiam water. Science knows how to do that, and ODFW should get on the ball and return this wonderful fishery to the public. Santiam steelhead that return in the summer also can be raised in circumstances that equal natural conditions. We should quite wishing and get fishing!

Spring Chinook will be coming up the Columbia into the lower Willamette soon, and a good year is predicted again for these large, native fish. We get to keep about 90 percent of the Chinooks we catch, so it is a great comsumptive fishery.

Summer steelhead are just starting to come up the river in very small numbers. They will increase slowly, with good numbers starting in March. 2,004 should be an excellent year for these prime fish.

River levels may not stabilize on the North Santiam for a while, but we never know this time of year when conditions will be right. We have to take our chances and check conditions a day or two ahead of time. Local knowledge is critical to success.

Coastal fishing has been excellent some of the time in some of the places. Three Rivers was hot last week, and the North Fork Nehalem had some excellent days, mixed with some days with very high water. Again, local knowledge is critically important. The drive over there is long enough that we need to know ahead of time which river will be in shape for the time we have available.

The hatchery fish in the North Fork Nehalem are very sporty and very numerous. The river is very tricky and the level varies quickly. Jim Erickson at 503-368-5365 is the best information source and shuttle service on that river. Nestucca Valley Sporting Goods in Hebo at 503-392-4269 does the shuttles and keeps track of the daily data for the Nestucca and Three Rivers.

The porta potty has been installed at the Three Rivers fishing deadline below the Cedar Creek Hatchery. Steelheaders have been instrumental in providing this, and are planning on other improvements at that killer fishing drift. The boat ramp at Farmer Creek is greatly improved, and there has been little pressure on the middle part of the river recently. That will change as the river drops some more.

Boat shows and sport shows are here and excellent. Plan to attend.

Steelheaders annual auction and banquet is on April 17. A couple of publications have had the wrong date, so mark this one down. Since it is the biggest steelhead event of the year, plans and reservations should be made now. Send me an e-mail for more information or call 503-653-4176 during business hours.

Clackamas and Sandy River fish are coming in now, so many fishing opportunities close to home are available for most Oregonians. Take advantage of it.

Bill Sanderson
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
The North Santiam has such a great balance between fish and whitewater that I just love keeping track of all the variables and doing the weekly report. It is true that fish bite better elsewhere some of the time, but this river deserves lots of attention anyway. Thanks for your continued interest.
 
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