The city of Florence is located on the north shore of Oregon's eighth largest bay and was named after the sailing vessel Florence, which sunk offshore during a storm in November 1875. Today the bar at the entrance to the bay can be dangerous to cross and the small boater has to use caution when considering crossing the bar or fishing in the jetty channel. The waves generated by the wind and/or the current from a strong outgoing tide can sink a small boat. Call the Coast Guard station, (541) 997-8303, for recorded weather and bar conditions before considering boating in the jetty channel or crossing the bar.
The following underlined areas describe some of the dangerous tidal conditions affecting safe boating when entering or departing Siuslaw Bay or boating in the jetty channel as listed on the Web Page for Oregon State Marine Board at www.boatoregon.com and click on Publications/Library and Forms. Scroll down to Boating in Oregon's Coastal Waters and click on your bay of interest to familiarize yourself with the conditions at the bar.
Shoal water on the northeast side of the channel has a depth of two to three feet at high tide which extends from C"7" to G"9". Shoal water on the south side of the channel, extends from buoy #6 to buoy #4 and approximately 50 yards out toward the south jetty tips.
Outer end of south jetty. Breakers are almost always present. When the seas are from the southwest or west, breakers may extend to the entrance buoy.
Outer end of north jetty. Breakers are almost always present. When the seas are from the west, the breakers may extend to the entrance buoy.
Siuslaw River channel lies along the northern half of the river entrance. Water depth ranges from 6 to 20 feet. When swells are running from the northwest, boaters should stay in the channel. When the swells run from the west or southwest, stay closer to the south jetty until clear of rough water. When conditions are questionable, contact the Coast Guard station for advice on VHF channel 16 or 22A, or CB channel 9. Once inside the bar, head for the channel. Ranges mark the preferred depth channel, but depending on conditions they do not mark the best route to follow.
Siuslaw River bar has a very narrow channel extending out past the jetties. Unlike larger bars on the Oregon coast, the Siuslaw River bar may be rendered impassable for small boats by a moderate swell, particularly at ebb tide. Boaters should use extreme caution when operating near this bar. Due to shoaling and jetty extensions, bar conditions are unpredictable. When the bar is rough, expect continuous breakers 50 to 100 yards off the jetty tips.
Bridge: Clearance beneath the Siuslaw River Bridge is low. Use caution when crossing under the bridge on the flood tide to avoid damaging superstructure such as antennas and troll poles.
Rough bar advisory sign is positioned on the Coast Guard tower facing 150½ true.
Siuslaw Bay is best known for the quality of the coho salmon fishing. Fishing in the bay and main stem of the Siuslaw River has posted some of the highest fish counts for coho salmon recorded for any of Oregon’s bays.
Coho salmon of the Siuslaw River have one of the best runs of coho salmon on the Oregon Coast. The coho salmon return from late September, peaking in October and runs into November. Fish for coho salmon early in the run trolling with the incoming tide in the lower bay with plug cut herring, chartreuse hoochies or streamer flies. Troll these baits behind a diver or wire spreader in the upper half of the water column. Trolling with rainbow, chartreuse or pink colored spinners or spinner bait combinations is an effective option. Troll these baits throughout the bay and in tidal reach of the river channel. Be sure to troll a plug cut herring with a tight spin at speeds between 3 and 5 knots.
Chinook salmon begin returning in small numbers to Siuslaw Bay in September peaking in early October and running into November. The average catch rate has been increasing for the last 25 years and is dominated by a high percentage of 5 year old fish and some 6 year old fish. The majority of the Chinook salmon returning to the Siuslaw Basin return to Lake Creek with fewer Chinook returning to the Siuslaw River and the North Fork of the Siuslaw River respectively.
The best fishing for newly arriving fall Chinook salmon occurs in the lower bay during the incoming tide of the major tidal exchange of spring tides or neap tides especially when the incoming tide coincides with sunrise or sunset. The next most productive fishing period occurs at sunrise or sunset during the incoming tide of the minor tidal exchange in the daily tidal cycle. Daybreak is that magical time of day when Chinook salmon bite the best. Be sure to have the bait in the water one half hour before sunrise. Fishing is most productive from ½ hour before sunrise to midmorning and from late afternoon until ½ hour after sunset.
Early in the run trolling a plug cut herring with the incoming tide through high slack tide or with outgoing tide in the lower bay from the jetty jaws to the Highway 101 Bridge is the most productive method to catch early returning fall Chinook salmon. The velocity of the tidal current in the lower bay can require the use of heavy sinkers up to 16 plus ounces to keep the bait in the Chinook’s strike zone.
As the run develops troll a plug cut herring with the tide in the upper bay from the Highway 101 Bridge past Old Town to the confluence of the North Fork of the Siuslaw River. Troll a plug cut herring or spinners with the tide from the confluence of the North Fork to the Dairy Hole at the confluence of the Duncan Inlet or from the confluence of the North Fork with the main stem Siuslaw upriver to Bender Landing located on the North Fork of the Siuslaw River. Troll the spinners on the bottom utilizing a wire spreader with the spinner tied to a 72 inch 35 plus pound test monofilament lead and an 18 inch break away dropper. If the Chinook are rolling on top flat line the spinner by trolling it without using weight.
Fish in the tidal reach of the Siuslaw River from the Dairy Hole below Duncan Inlet upriver to the Dollar Hole located at the head of tidewater above Mapleton or in the upper tidal reach of the North Fork of the Siuslaw River from Bender Landing up river to Haring Creek or for the more adventurous to the head of tide at Condon Creek using the following methods: Troll with the incoming tide through high slack tide or back troll or back bounce with the outgoing tide using bait wrapped Flatfish lures, spinners or spinner bait combinations. Drift with the tidal current back bouncing a walnut sized gob of salmon eggs topped with a sand shrimp or drift with the tidal current using a free sliding bobber to fish a walnut sized gob of salmon eggs topped with sand shrimp suspended just off of the bottom at a depth of 8 to 10 feet. Bobber fishing is productive in the holes upriver from the Dairy Hole at Duncan Inlet, at the hole below the confluence of Sweet Creek, the Pipe Bridge Hole just below Mapleton Landing and in the holes above Mapleton Landing to the Dollar Hole just below the head of tide at Farnham Landing. Vertical jigging with a Buzz Bomb in the deeper holes upriver form the Pipe Bridge Hole can be productive. The most popular Flatfish lure has a silver body with chartreuse head or Hot Tail finish. The most productive spinner is No. 6 chartreuse Bolo spinner with silver and copper blades followed by a rainbow colored Yaquina Slammer spinner. Fish during low slack tide by trolling a No. 6 rainbow colored Yaquina Slammer spinner or by casting a No. 5 chartreuse Bolo spinner with silver and copper blades. Anchor up current above the deeper holes and fish with bait wrapped Flatfish lures, bait sweetened SpinNGlos, spinners, wobblers, spinner bait combinations, a walnut size gob of salmon eggs or bobber fish with salmon eggs and/or sand shrimp during the outgoing tide through low slack.
Cutthroat trout return to the Siuslaw River Basin anytime from the first week of July through first middle of August. Fishing for cutthroat is productive at the confluence of the North Fork and the main stem Siuslaw Rivers and upstream to Mapleton trolling Doc Shelton spinners rigged with night crawlers. Fish in the upper tidal reach of the Lake Creek and the Siuslaw River above Mapleton trolling Doc Shelton spinners rigged with a night crawler, casting spinners or by anchoring above the deeper holes and fishing on the bottom with night crawlers, crawfish tails or by casting spinners.
Striped bass enter Siuslaw Bay from the middle of March during the years when the striped bass population is at its highest. Fish along the tidal flats associated with the confluence of the North Fork, Cox Island, South Inlet or Duncan Inlet.
Black rockfish, blue rockfish and copper rockfish enter Siuslaw Bay early as March but usually from April through October withdrawing from the bay during periods of heavy seasonal freshwater runoff in winter and to deeper water during the daylight hours. Fishing at night in the jetty channel along the south jetty and the finger jetties is excellent from spring into early fall.
Pileperch, striped seaperch, redtail surfperch, walleye surfperch and white seaperch enter the bay in late spring. Striped seaperch are the dominate perch species followed by pileperch but the fishing really heats up when redtail surfperch enter the bay. Good fishing for perch starts in the jetty channel along the finger jetties just inside the entrance of the bay and gets better as the perch move up the bay to Cox Island. The fishing can be exceptional during June and July along the tidal flats adjacent to the deepwater channels from the city docks in Florence to the North
Fork of the Siuslaw River, Cox Island and the South Inlet. The fishing ranges from fair to excellent through fall depending on the tides and the weather conditions.
Kelp greenling, whitespotted greenling and rock greenling enter the bay with the tide from late spring through fall. The best fishing occurs during July and August among the submerged structure of the north, south and finger jetties at the entrance to the bay.
Lingcod spawn along the north and south jetties from late January throughout March. Fishing is fair to excellent during the spawning period.
Cabezon are present throughout the year with the best fishing occurring along the south and north jetties in March during the spawning period, but the fishing for cabezon ranges from fair at the end of the jetties for most of the year.
White sturgeon enter the bay in fishable numbers from December to June. Fish for them in the holes in tidal reach of the river channel during the last two hours of an outgoing tide through slack tide. The sturgeon fishery is a small but viable one that is subject to over fishing. Concentrate fishing in the deeper holes from the confluence with the South Inlet upstream to Mapleton.
Sand Sole enter the bay in small numbers from April through August.
Clam digging for gaper clams, piddocks clams or cockles is limited to the tidal area just inside the north jetty below Harbor Vista R/V Park. The most productive digging for piddock clams in any of Oregon's bays occurs along the north shore in the jetty channel in the area marked with a “4” but is only accessible by boat. The softshell clams in locate on the west end of Cox Island are larger in size than the average softshell clam found in Oregon's bays. The softshell clam beds are located in the tidal flats at just east of Florence on both sides of the river.
The Siuslaw Bay public fishing pier is located at the end of the South Jetty Road. The fishing for perch is excellent from spring through summer. The crabbing is excellent from late spring until the freshwater from winter rains force the crabs out into the ocean. The fishing for salmon from the pier is productive in late August and September as the salmon enter the river.
The Siuslaw Jetties The best fishing is from the south jetty, which has a larger population of rockfish and access to the Siuslaw Bay public fishing pier. The south jetty has finger jetties to control erosion. The fishing for bass, greenling and perch should be good along these areas. The south jetty is accessed by traveling south on Hwy 101 across Siuslaw Bay for approximately 1.4 miles, turn right on the south Jetty access road and follow the sign. The north jetty is accessed from Hwy 101 via Heceta Beach Drive; turn left on Rhododendron to the North Jetty.
Siuslaw Bay boat launches are the Florence City Docks and Ramp located in Old Town Florence. The other boat ramps and hoist are located east of Florence on Highway 126 and 36. Siuslaw Marina has an unimproved ramp located 4 miles east of Florence. Midway Dock is a hoist facility, Tiernan Boat Ramp is an unimproved boat ramp located about six miles west of Mapleton. C & D Docks and hoist facility. Mapleton Landing and Transit Dock are located in Mapleton near the intersection of Highway 126 and Highway 36. Farnham Landing is located just above the Dollar Hole at the head of tide on Highway 36 two miles east of Highway 126. Launch at Bender’s landing to fish the North Fork of the Siuslaw River. Access Bender’s landing by turning onto the North Fork Road from Hwy 138.
Oregon Dunes National Recreational Area.
The sand dunes associated with the Oregon Dunes National Recreational Area are the largest collection of coastal dunes in the world and is the most popular recreational area on the Oregon Coast. The area offers visitors unlimited recreational opportunity to fulfill their expectations. The clam digging, crabbing and fishing is exceptional. Fishing in the surf for redtail surfperch is exceptional between Umpqua Bay and Coos Bay. There are numerous lakes in the area, the most notable being Siltcoos, Tahkenitch and Tenmile, all of which offer exceptional fishing, boating or water skiing. There are hiking trails that offer varying degrees of difficulty from a casual walk along the beach to a heartpounding climb through the dunes. Dune buggy enthusiasts enjoy a level of participation that is comparable to their abilities. Vehicles entering the ocean beaches and the sand dunes in the Oregon Dunes National Recreational Area must be in compliance with beach access regulations. The beach associated with the Oregon Dunes Recreational Area is patrolled by the Marine Patrol and the patrol issues costly tickets to the owners of vehicles who violate regulations. Access to the sand dunes or to the beach by off road or by four wheel drive street legal vehicles requires an off road vehicle permit. Area merchants and the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles issue off road vehicle permits. All vehicles both street legal and off road must display a red flag on the end of a nine foot whip antenna and carry a classA fire extinguisher to access the off road areas of the Oregon Dunes National Recreational Area. Off road access to the beach by motor vehicle gives the angler ability to move often to locate feeding surfperch and striped bass. Be sure to park above the high tide mark and in an area where you don’t become stuck in the sand. Check with the Oregon Dunes National Recreational Office to confirm the sandy dunes and the beach areas open to vehicles. Other nearby recreational attractions such as the Kentucky Falls and the Deans Creek Elk Viewing Area are another compelling reason to visit the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. The dunes within the Oregon Dunes National Recreational area stretch southward from the south shore of Siuslaw Bay to North Beach on the north shore of Coos Bay.
191.7 The South Jetty Roadis located 1.4 miles south of Florence and is the northern entrance to the Oregon Dunes National Recreational Area. The ocean beach offers excellent fishing for redtail surfperch and the occasional striped bass and productive digging for razor clams. The south jetty and the Siuslaw Fishing Pier are located at the end of the five mile long South Jetty Road. There is ample parking for all vehicles in the parking areas along the South Jetty Road. Motor vehicles are only allowed on the sand dunes south to the Siltcoos Beach Road.
On 10/03 ODFW reports; Fall Chinook fishing is producing good catch rates through tide water and up into the lower reaches of the mainstem. The coho fishery is picking up with fish mostly being caught in the lower tidewater area. Cutthroat trout fishing is fair to good in the mainstem Siuslaw, Lake Creek and many of the tributaries.
However, the Siuslaw River offers premier fishing for cutthroat trout trout and some of the best action fishing for Chinook salmon found in any of Oregon's rivers.
Lane County requires parking permits to park in the day use parking areas at most of the county parks. The permits are available at the Sportsman Sporting Goods store located on HWY 101 just north of the HWY 101 bridge over the Siuslaw River Estuary. The Sportsman is one of two family owned and operated sporting goods stores on the Oregon Coast that carry a complete line of equipment that will satisfy your recreational needs.
Clam Digging Siuslaw River Estuary:
Softshell clams are the primary clams of interest in the Siuslaw River Estuary. Piddocks clams are dug from the exposed tidal flats on the north side of the channel some distance from the Harbor Vista R/V Park. Some cockles are raked and some gaper clams are dug on the tidal flats below the Harbor Vista R/V Park.
Click HERE for razor clam productivity from the beaches associated with the Siuslaw River Estuary.
Crabbing is good from late spring to early fall in the lower bay from the city docks of Florence seaward to the jetty jaws once the Siuslaw river flows have returned to normal. The most productive crabbing occurs seaward from the Highway 101 Bridge. At times the Port of Siuslaw Campground at the water's edge on the bay has knowledgeable information on current crabbing conditions at 541 997 3040.
Crabbing from the City Docks ranges to fair in late summer and fall with lots of juvenile crabs in the mix. The crabbing from Siuslaw Bay public crabbing dock located at the end of the South Jetty Road is excellent from late spring until the freshwater from winter rains force the crabs out into the ocean
On 09/22 the Sportsman reports crabbing from boats is good in the lower estuary.
Internet links of interest for the Siuslaw River Estuary:
Click on 2012 to view the NOAA tidal projections for your area of interest.
Plan for future clamdigging and or crabbing adventures by clicking on the Entrance to the Siuslaw River Estuary and scroll down the desired month for 2012 and 2013.
Click HERE for the 10 day weather forecast at Florence.
Click HERE to see the navigation hazards for crossing the Siuslaw River bar.
Click on Northwest Rivers to view the fishing information for the Siuslaw River Estuary.
Return to Clam Watch.