Nehalem is Finally in Shape

Nehalem River - Nehalm, OR

by OR Department of Fish & Wildlife Staff


The Nehalem is finally in shape, and should fish throughout the week. With many of the other North Coast Rivers getting low, this would be a good bet for the weekend for those willing to fish catch-and-release for wild steelhead. The run seems strong this year and there are fish throughout the system.

The main stem Nehalem is a mostly wild fish river for steelhead, and as peaks January through early April. This is a large basin and as such can blow out easily and stay muddy for long periods. The plus side of is that it often fishes well when other North Coast Rivers are low and clear. There is primitive boat access, and plenty of bank access available from state forest lands.

Catching and releasing a big wild winter steelhead is one of the best experiences I know of, but anglers are encouraged to treat these fish with care. The best practices for a good release are to not over fight the fish, and release them as quickly as possible without taking them out of the water.

Trout season will reopen on May 22, 2020.


The North Fork is getting low and clear, and the hatchery run is definitely slowing down. That said are still some bright fish trickling in as well as wild steelhead available for catch-and-release. For low water conditions, using light line, small terminal presentations, and stealthy tactics can improve success. Anglers can call the Nehalem Hatchery fishing hotline for a recorded message on conditions and the fishing at 503-368-5670.

When fishing high or colored up water, large presentations and bright colors are key. This is also a good time to break out the bait or scents for added attraction. In addition fishing techniques that keep the presentation near the bottom (drift fishing, bobber doggin’, side drifting) are a good bet. 

The North Fork Nehalem is a relatively small basin, and gets one of our best early returning hatchery steelhead runs. Like most small basins fishing is best as the river drops after rain events. The hatchery run peaks late December through January on this basin, with catch and release opportunities for wild fish continuing through the end of March.

There is bank access available below the Nehalem hatchery. A raft/drift boat float is available, but is highly technical and is recommended for expert boaters only.

Trout season will reopen on May 22, 2020.

More Reports

OR Department of Fish & Wildlife Reports
for Wednesday, February 19th

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