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106 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
September 8, 2003

North Santiam River Report

Solitude in paradise is especially enjoyable after the summer crowds. A few rafts, kayaks, and driftboats can be expected to go by every day, but peace and quiet is normal in September. Good Fall colors and 60 steelhead per mile provide both beauty and action.

Steelhead are biting better now than last month, because the river is warmer in the upper sections. In the lower sections, it is too warm, but just the right temperature may be found somewhere between Packsaddle and Stayton.

Although the river did increase from the August average of 900 cfs to 1460 cfs last week, the river is still very fishable. Actually, the extra water makes it easier to drift and dodge rocks.

Salmon are spawning and are moving out of the deep holes to lay around the gravel beds. That causes the steelhead to move into different water, and it is fairly easy to find them.

Mehama to Stayton is a productive drift this week, partly because most of the salmon are in the upper river. There is still a little difficulty with the boat portage at upper Bennett Dam, but that is a small inconvenience that is easily dealt with after a couple of trips for experience.

Minto Park is still the place on the river with the best chances of catching Steelhead for bank anglers. Fishermen’s Bend has also been good, and so has Packsaddle. Kimmell Park in Mill City is good, but few people know about it. At the right time of day and temperature, North Santiam State Park is a likely place to find dozens of steelhead.

September 17 is the date for Salem Chapter Steelheaders to have a program on possible fish rearing projects and habitat improvements on the North Santiam River. Steve Mamoyac is the District Biologist for this river, and he will discuss ideas with us at this meeting at 7:00 p.m. at the Salem Library. Guests are welcome.

A fish viewing facility at Mill City would showcase one of the best fish runs in the Willamette Valley. With the deep pool below the Falls, there are often more than 500 Chinook salmon holding there. An underwater stair and window would give us a view of salmon holding in the river waiting for spawning time. It is of significant interest to local residents as will as anglers and tourists.

Rain and cooler nights this week did not cool the water temperature. Since Detroit Lake warmed up all summer, this is the warm water that is now going downstream. It may warm up even more in the next couple of weeks, and that will help the fish bite in the upper river.

On September 18, the river is scheduled to increase a little more to around 1800 cfs from Big Cliff. That level is navigable and fishable, and the peak of the salmon spawning will occur about the same time. The moon will be waning, and there are signs that steelhead fishing could be very good here.

The BandB Complex Fire is big news at the headwaters of the North Santiam. Both Marion Lake and Santiam Lake have been surrounded by the fire, and they are more than 30 miles upstream from Detroit Lake. With the rain today, the fire should be in control soon. Ash and other residue from the fire is not likely to filter down to the Lake, and certainly not to the river below.

Lures and baits the color of salmon eggs are likely to work very well this month.

Bill Sanderson
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