The North Santiam flows west out of the Cascades into the South Santiam and finally to the Willamette River south of Salem, Oregon. The proximity of the Santiam River to Salem makes it a favorite after work and weekend destination during the summer months. Steelheaders love the North Santiam and steelhead can be found in this river year-round below Big Cliff Dam. Best known for it's steelhead fishing, the wild winter steelhead start entering the Santiam river in December and can be found through May. The summer hatchery generated steelhead run starts in May with the best fishing from late June through July.
The North Santiam is a major tributary of the Willamette River. The river is over 60 miles long flowing from it's headwaters at Santiam Lake in the southern Marion Lake Basin of Mt. Jefferson Wilderness to where it meets up with the South Santiam near the town of Jefferson. The North Santiam River offers fishing opportunities for Steelhead, Trout and Salmon. The best fly fishing conditions are when river flows are from 2.8 to 4.5 feet. Check out Creekside Flyfishing's fishing report which provides links to river levels. As flows are adjusted often on the river, it's good to check flows before you head out.
The lower North Santiam River (from Big Cliff Dam down to Jefferson) to is open for catch and release trout fishing from the end of May through October. Trout are no longer stocked in this section but there's fair fishing for wild rainbows and cutthroat trout. This section is also the favorite for Steelhead fishermen.
The summer run of steelhead are hatchery generated and fin-clipped. They arrive in late May and are present in good numbers through July with the average weight range about 5-15 pounds. The prime months are usually late June through July but steelhead fishing can continue to be productive through the fall months. Salmon are also present in the North Santiam with the Spring Chinook arriving in Mid-May. Bank anglers have good access to the river via all the state parks and boat ramps.
The upper North Santiam River (from above Detroit Dam to the headwaters) is open for hatchery stocked rainbow and brook trout fishing from the end of April through October. The water above Marion Forks can be particularly productive for fly fishermen and access is easy as Highway 22 runs along the river for 25 miles. There are several campgrounds along this section as well.
The North Santiam is floatable from Big Cliff Dam down to the mouth, however this river can be very tricky with many challenging rapids. Early season boating can be particularly hazardous. If you're planning on drifting the river you need to be an experienced oarsman and advance scouting is recommended.
Hatch Guide for the North Santiam River
Following is a summary of the most dominant hatches available monthly on Oregon's North Santiam River. Due to the cold water temperatures, hatches are limited. Best dry fly fishing is from July through September when the water has had time to warm up and the river is at summer flow levels. This listing is designed to give you a general idea of what to expect and plan for on your next trout fishing trip. Check out our fishing report for suggested Steelhead patterns with purple being the "go-to" color for Santiam steelhead flies.
|Month||Hatches:||Patterns: Dry Flies||Patterns: Nymphs|
|May||Mayflies, Caddis||Yellow or Green Elk Hair Caddis (Sz #12-18), PMD Sparkle Dun (Sz #14-18), Yellow Sally's (Sz 14-18)||Rubber Legged Hare's Ear (#10-16), Caddis Larva #14-16, PMD Nymph #16-18|
|June & July||Caddis, Mayflies||Tan, Olive or Brown Elk Hair Caddis (Sz #14-18), Parachute Adams #12-18, Royal Wulff #14, Madam X #14, Stimulators #12-14||BH Rubber Legged Hare's Ear (#10-16), BH Prince Nymphs #12-16, BH Squirrel Nymph #14-16|
|August & September||Caddis, Baetis||Tan, Brown or Olive Elk Hair Caddis (Sz #12-18), Adams (Sz #14-18), BWO Sparkle Dun (Sz #16-18), October Caddis Adult (Sz #6-8), Orange Stimulators (Sz #6-8)||BH FB Pheasant Tail (Sz #12-16), Rubber Legged Hare's Ear (Sz #12-16), October Caddis Pupa (Sz #6-8)|
|October||Caddis, Baetis||Adult October Caddis (Sz # 6-8), Parachute Adams (Sz # 14-18), BWO Comparadun (Sz #16-18), BWO Sparkle Dun (Sz #16-18)||Pheasant Tail Nymphs (Sz #16-22), Prince Nymphs (Sz #12-16), Gold Ribbed Hares Ear (Sz #12-16), October Caddis Pupa (Sz #6-8)|
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