Copyright 2015 James Marsh
Fly Fishing Guide to the Kilchis River Oregon
In the Fall, heavy rains occur along the coast and often the coastal range streams become
blow-out of their banks or even flooded. Most of the rivers take a long time (up to three to five
days) to clear and fall back to normal levels. The Kilchis River is always the first one along
Oregon's coastline to clear up and become fishable. During the times this situation occurs, the
Kilchis River can become crowded with anglers because this isn't a secrete. It's well know by all
local anglers. Never-the-less, it becomes the only place you can fish for steelhead and salmon
during that situation.
The Kilchis River is generally discussed in two parts or sections - the lower coastal section and
the upper river. The upper river flows through the Kilchis County Park and into the Tilamook
Forest where there's plenty of access. This section of the river often runs low and may not be
the best area to fish under these conditions. The most popular and all around best section is
the lower coastal section of the Kilchis River. It contains resident fish as well as all the sea-run
species. It has little access since most of the property is privately owned. There are two public
boat launches and some that charge a fee. There's a county boat launch at the Kilchis County
Park. About three miles below that is Cape Meers Landing. Most boats take out at Parks
Landing on Alderbrook Road near highway #101.
The chum salmon are not of great interest to many anglers but on a light fly rod and in the
river current they can fight very good. The chum salmon is catch and release only. These fish
average about fifteen pounds. The steelhead are the most preferred species by fly anglers.
Sea-run cutthroat trout and the larger Coho and Chinook salmon also interest most anglers.
The entire sea run groups of fish move in and out based on the tides and river levels. The
river level is critical. It doesn't only affect the migrating fish, it affects where and if you can
wade. The river can rise and fall several feet during the Fall rains. This Kilchis River doesn't
have a gauge. Most anglers go by the Wilson River and the Trask River levels. Both of these
rivers have USGS stream flow gauges and they pretty accurately suggest what the levels of the
kilchis River is. When the Wilson is about 600 cfms and about 4 feet, it's in good shape but at
minimum flow. Its upper limit is 4.6 and 1300 cfms. Drift boats can handle heavier flows
because they can follow the fish in the current. Any level between these two extremes on
Wilson means the levels are probably good on the Kilchis River. Just remember, the best
fishing in the river usually occurs after a good rain because it brings lots of fish out of the bay
area into the river.
All in all, the river is best fished from a boat. The most common drift is from the Kilchis State
Park downstream to Mapes Creek. The various species can also be caught from the bank or
by wading, but you are rather limited in most situations.
Kilchis River, Oregon
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