The Lower Salmonberry


This one is a little out of the way. The Salmonberry is a tributary of the Nehalem, and about 1.5 hours out of Portland off Hwy 26. The disaffected Old Tillamook Railroad runs from the coast almost into the city along the Salmonberry and the Nehalem. This provides a decent walking path along the river, but is washed out in spots with fallen trees and mudslides.

A small parking lot along the road at the mouth of the river is the only place to park, and you have to walk about 10 minutes to get to the first fishable spot after some private property. After that it’s free access until you get back to civilization.

It may have been the fog and the moss, but there’s an eerie quality about the river. Something about the abandoned rail road and a couple of serial-killer shacks and old bridges make the place feel like the setting for a horror movie, but not in a discouraging way.


The first bridge is completely open, which feels strange walking across. There is bank access on both sides, but neither yielded any results for me.


Don’t look down


First fishable spot on the river

This was by far the most athletic river I’ve fished. Not only did I walk about seven miles out and back, but the up and down to get to the river—and having go over obstacles along the path—did a number on me. The greenery is starting to overgrow the path in many spots, so bring a machete or be prepared to duck and roll in a few spots.

This is a nice spot if you want to get away and be by yourself for awhile. I only encountered a threesome of fly anglers who had as much luck as I was having. One encouraged me that the river fishes well when it is high, and as it closes for steelhead fishing March 31, you better enjoy fishing high water.

Reports say that it yields a lot of big fish, but again, I’ve got nothing to report, and neither did my fellow intrepid anglers, despite the forecast saying this was the best spot to fish in the Willamette Valley or coast range at the time.

I would certainly like to come back and explore the upper reaches of the river, as it looks like a tranquil place to fish, and it is certainly a photogenic hike. I just wish it were open for a longer fishing season.



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