Little North Fork Santiam


A pretty little recreational stream that flows into the Santiam near Mehama, the Little North Fork of the Santiam is close enough to Salem to get a lot of traffic from bathers and picnickers in the summer. In August, the water was crystal clear and very low, as can be expected. Although it’s open year-round for steelhead, I only saw one tiny trout the whole morning on the river, and didn’t even land that. Best Fishing in America says that odds are better in the winter than the summer.

The only other odd tidbit is that all the parks in the recreation area are fee parks, but are run by the county, BLM, and the Forest Service, each with its own separate fee. I paid the county fee at the pay station near the head of the road only to be stopped by a park manager at another spot to be told that it’d be an additional $5 to fish there because that part was managed by BLM and not the county. Needless to say, I didn’t fish there.


There may be some hidden gems somewhere on this river, but I’m not going to pay to find out. If you want my advice, fish the rest of the Santiam—fewer people, more access, more likelihood of a hookup, and no one’s going to charge you to go fishing.