Copyright 2014 James Marsh
Fly Fishing Guide to the Nehalem River Oregon

Winter steelhead is the prime species for the fly angler. One reason it is so popular is that it is
strctly a catch and release fishery. Steelhead trout are present in the Nehalem River from late
November through March, with the height of the run of hatchery fish usually occurring from
January to mid-February. Wild steelhead show up a little later and the run peaks in February
and March.

The sea run cutthroats normally average around 12 to 15 inches. They begin to show up in the
lower river in July and are in the river from then on through the month of September.  

The salmon season is best during the fall months of the year. All native Coho salmon must be
released. The Chinook salmon start showing up in Nehalem Bay during  the month of July.
They run upstream into the Nehalem River and peak between September and October.  These
salmon average about twenty pounds. The Coho Salmon average about ten pounds.

The Nehalem River's main stem and its North Fork is one of the few remaining streams with a
Coho Salmon season. These fish are hatchery fish that are returning to the hatchery on the
North Fork or the Nahalem River. Be sure to note that at the present time, only the lower
section of the river, between Fishery Point in the Nehalem Bay up to the confluence of the
North Fork of the Nahalem River is open for coho salmon.

There's a total of eight public and private boat ramps (that the public can use) in the lower
river area. Most of the fishing is done in the narrow mouth of the bay and its South and East

The steelhead fishing is best done from a drift boat. One drift plan is to put in at the Roy Creek
Park, which is upriver about twelve miles, and drift to the Nehalem Boat Ramp. Others just
head upstream by motor and then drift back down to the boat ramp. The section of the river
between highway #26 and Nehalem mostly flows through the Tillamook State Park. That means
you can fish anywhere along this section of the river.

The sea-run cutthroat fishing is usually best between the mouth of the Salmonberry Creek and
the North Fork of the Nehalem River. The resident cutthroat trout can be found anywhere
except the tidewater area.
Nehalem River, Oregon
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Photo Courtesy of
Dennis McCarthy
Photo Courtesy of
Dennis McCarthy