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Santiam River anglers reminded of regulations to protect threatened winter steelhead

March 7, 2024

CORVALLIS, Ore.—Santiam River anglers should be aware that only artificial flies and lures can be used until April 22. This is in effect to protect threatened wild winter steelhead.

Since 2021, the use of bait is only allowed from April 22-Oct. 31 in the Santiam River mainstem, the North Santiam River up to Minto Dam and the South Santiam up to Foster Dam. See regulations for the Willamette Zone.

That means anglers are restricted to artificial flies and lures from Nov. 1-April 21 in these areas of the Santiam River. Fish tend to swallow baited hooks at a higher rate than flies and lures so the regulation is meant to reduce the risk of hooking mortality to winter steelhead. During this time of year, there are very few hatchery salmon and steelhead as the bulk of the sportfish are ESA-threatened winter steelhead.

Winter steelhead numbers have improved since dropping to an all-time low in 2017. This year's run is tracking to be the best since 2004 (with 4,249 adults above Willamette Falls as of March 4). This is good news for the recovery of steelhead in the Willamette, but it is also attracting the attention of anglers who value the unique experience of catching a wild winter steelhead.

While anglers cannot keep wild winter steelhead, they can still fish for and retain hatchery steelhead or hatchery spring Chinook. The peak run timing for these fish in the Santiam basin is usually in May and June, though some early fish do arrive in April. Hatchery summer steelhead have their adipose fin removed while wild steelhead have theirs intact.

If you do inadvertently catch a wild winter steelhead, please release it safely using these catch-and-release tips.


Contact: Alex Farrand, (541) 757-5239,
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