Winter Steelhead Fishing Trip Idea
Activities: Fishing, Crabbing & Clamming
Of the many outdoor recreational activities here on Oregon’s Adventure Coast, winter steelhead fishing is undoubtedly a favorite among sportsmen! Coos Bay, North Bend and Charleston have a bounty of incredible fishing options, so we asked a local expert where fishermen can go to find the best winter steelhead fishing.
We checked with Gary Vonderohe, a Fish Biologist with the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife in Charleston, who shares his tips and recommendations below to help you plan your winter steelhead fishing trip to Coos Bay!
To learn more, you can always check with the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife for the most up to date recreation report and visit Oregon’s Adventure Coast for a list of local bait and tackle shops. Visit our website to learn about more fresh water fishing options in Coos Bay.
Top Picks for Steelhead Rivers on the South Coast
In the Coos River basin winter steelhead fishing typically starts the week of Thanksgiving. We have hatchery steelhead acclimation sites on the West Fork Millicoma River, East Fork Millicoma River, and South Fork Coos River. Fishing on the West Fork and East Fork Millicoma rivers are best in December through mid-February. Fishing on the South Fork Coos River is best from December through March. There is good fishing access at the Millicoma Interpretive Center on the West Fork Millicoma River and Nesika Park is a good place to fish for steelhead on the East Fork Millicoma River. Access to fish the South Fork Coos River is through Weyerhaeuser property and a permit is needed.
In the Coquille River basin winter steelhead fishing starts the last week of November. There are hatchery steelhead acclimation sites on the North Fork (LaVerne Park) and South Fork (Woodward and Beaver creeks) Coquille rivers. The best months to fish the North Fork Coquille River are December through February with excellent access on foot at LaVerne Park. The South Fork Coquille River is an excellent river to be fished by boat. There are multiple access points to launch drift boats. Some of these access points are good areas to fish from the bank. The South Fork fishes well from December through April with the best fishing lower in the river early in the season. As part of a coastwide conservation plan, hatchery steelhead releases were discontinued on the East Fork Coquille after 2014. The East Fork Coquille River is open to harvest of wild steelhead (1 per day and 3 per year) and hatchery steelhead from the mouth up to Brewster Gorge. The best months to fish the East Fork Coquille are January through early March.
Fishing for winter steelhead in Tenmile Creek starts in late December with the best fishing in January through late February. Best fishing in Eel Creek is from January through March. There are three hatchery steelhead acclimation sites, one at Saunders Creek at Spinreel Park, one at Eel Creek in Tugman State Park, and the third is on a small stream in between Eel Creek and Spinreel Park. There is excellent boat and foot access on Tenmile Creek at Spinreel Park and good foot access at the mouth of Eel Creek. There are a few access points to Eel Creek but it is accessible by foot traffic only. Eel Creek is very brushy and the pools that hold steelhead are small.
Gary’s Winter Steelhead Fishing Tips
- One of the most popular techniques for fishing steelhead on all three river systems is to drift eggs or corkies along the stream bottom through holding water
- Another technique becoming popular is to drift a jig under a bobber
- Fly fishing is another way to catch steelhead with an egg pattern drifted under a strike indicator being the most popular technique. Swinging flies through a run can also produce a bite
- Each steelhead season from December 1 through April 30, steelhead anglers will be able to keep an additional adipose fin- clipped steelhead per day for a total aggregate of 3 adult fish harvested daily in the Coos, Coquille, and Tenmile basins