Chetco, Smith, Rogue, Umpqua, Elk, Sixes, Coos and Coquille Rivers at their Best! phone_iphone541.813.1082  /  206.388.8988

Salmon season winds down, steelhead next

The drift boat salmon season on the Smith and Chetco rivers is winding down, about to give way to steelhead fishing now through the end of March. Heavy rain in mid-November allowed for the first opener of the season on the Smith River above Rowdy Creek and on the Chetco River above the estuary. Two weeks into the season, most of the salmon run has now spawned as the first steelhead begin to show up.

A nice king salmon released on the Smith River with guide Rye Phillips of Wild Rivers Fishing.

The opening day on the Smith resulted in epic fishing for the guides Wild Rivers Fishing had on the river. Andy, Mick, Rye and Sam got customers into big numbers of kings, with double-digit hookups for some of the anglers. Salmon had been stacking up in the Smith for weeks, as the fish were biting aggressively during the opener.

The next day, heavy rains blew out both the Chetco and Smith. From that point until now, the salmon fishing has been tough on both rivers, as many of the kings spawned as soon as the water levels rose.

Customers hold a bright Chetco king caught with guide Michael McGahan of Wild Rivers Fishing.

The Chetco produced decent salmon fishing the first week it was open, with bright kings spread throughout the lower river. But with rains arriving late this year, the majority of the salmon spawned soon after the first big rise in flows. The last several days, fishing has been tough.

Capt. Andy holds a big king caught on a MagLip plug.

For the past week, salmon fishing has been slow, but adult steelhead are beginning to show up on the Chetco. There have been reports of four steelhead Thanksgiving week on the lower river, along with big numbers of halfpounders.

A customer battles a king salmon on the Smith River.

Salmon will continue to trickle in for the next month, while the steelhead run will accelerate. Expect steelhead fishing to be good by late December. Some seasons, limits are possible by the second week of December. January and February are the peak season for steelhead on the Chetco and Smith rivers.

Longtime customer Dave holds a nice Smith River king caught with guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing.
Longtime customer Jerry holds a Sixes River king caught with guide Shane Brooks of Wild Rivers Fishing.
Longtime customer Vince holds a bright Chetco king caught with guide Michael McGahan of Wild Rivers Fishing.
A bright Smith River hatchery king caught with guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing.

Last season, salmon fishing remained good on the Elk and Sixes rivers into late December. Good flows are needed to get down these small coastal rivers, and they will remain options as weather conditions allow.

One of the highlights of fall fishing on the Smith and Chetco is the beautiful scenery, and autumn colors. Colorful trees still line the banks of the rivers. By January, the leaves will be gone, and the cold weather will trigger the main migration of winter steelhead.

Fall colors on the Chetco River.

To book a winter steelhead trip, visit or call (541) 813-1082.

Our Signature Trips

•   Chetco River   •

The Chetco is one of Oregon’s premier salmon and steelhead rivers, and our most popular fishery. It produces more kings over 50 pounds.

•   Smith River   •

The Smith River is known for its large run of giant king salmon, as well as numerous steelhead of over 20 pounds.

•   Rogue River   •

The Rogue River is one of the few rivers in the world that has salmon and steelhead fishing twelve months a year!

•   Coquille Bay   •

The Coquille and Coos Bays have most prolific early fall salmon fishing on Oregon Coast!

•   Elk and Sixes   •

For sheer numbers of king salmon, the Elk River is hard to beat. The Elk and Sixes both have late fall runs, peaking in December.

•   Brookings Ocean Charters   •

Capt. Andy Martin spent 10 years guiding in Alaska but now guides and runs charter boats year round in Brookings, Oregon.

Call Captain Andy Martin   •   541.813.1082 / 206.388.8988 Wild Rivers Fishing, P.O. Box 1646, Brookings, OR 97415