Mile by Mile Map of the Oregon Coast Trail from the Siuslaw River Estuary to North Bend.

191.0                              Siuslaw Bay

The Port of Siuslaw is located in the City of Florence on the north shore of Oregon’s eighth largest bay. Florence 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.

NOAA's Bar Observation Website for Oregon's Bays. Check the NOAA Bar Observations website for updated closures and restrictions on Oregon's Bays.

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. 

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.

The USCG are heavy users of the Marine VHF Channels; Channel 16 is reserved for distress, safety and calling, while channel 22A is utilized for special warnings, Marine Safety and other announcements.

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.

Fishing in the Siuslaw River Estuary:

The Siuslaw River Estuary 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.

Information Report 2000-04. Zhou, S., and R. Williams. 2000. Escapement goals for Siletz River and Siuslaw River fall Chinook based on stock and recruitment analysis.

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 Spin–N–Glos, 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.                                          

Crabbing is good from late spring to early fall in the lower bay from the city docks seaward to the jetty jaws.  The most productive crabbing occurs seaward from the Highway 101 Bridge.

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.

Crabbing in the Siuslaw River Estuary:

Crabbing at Siuslaw River Estuary is extremely good in the lower bay and in the ocean during normal summer and fall flows. Crabbing from the City Docks ranges to good 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.

North Jetty fish ladder access point for crab divers. An old fish ladder off of N. Jetty road in Harbor Vista park provides good SCUBA access, locally known as "The Crab Hole".............

Crabbing in the Siuslaw River Estuary:

Crabbing at Siuslaw River Estuary is extremely good in the lower bay and in the ocean during normal summer and fall flows. Crabbing from the City Docks ranges to good 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.

North Jetty fish ladder access point for crab divers. An old fish ladder off of N. Jetty road in Harbor Vista park provides good SCUBA access, locally known as "The Crab Hole".............

Lower Siuslaw River Estuary map of clam and crab distribution.

The Sportsman, the largest family owned at (541 997 3336) is the largest sporting goods store serving the Central and Southern Oregon Coast and is located on South Hwy 101 in Florence. The Sportsman is the go to source for local crabbing and fishing information and carries all the recreational necessities to fulfill your fishing, crabbing, clam digging and hunting needs.

My buddy Walt and I crabbed from the crabbing dock located on the south shore of the Siuslaw River Estuary. We did not catch any keeper sized crabs but only 2 keeper sized crabs were taken while we were there.

Clam Digging Siuslaw River in the Siuslaw River Estuary is limited to a huge populations of softshell clam accessed by boat or by car from Hwy 126 east of Florence at the confluence of the Siuslaw River and the North Fork of the Siuslaw River. Purple varnish clams are dug from the tidal flat located just east of the crabbing dock on the south jetty while razor clams are common to Heceta Beach and Baker Beach.

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.

During the Spring of 2015 I went to both the beach at the North Jetty and the beach at the Driftwood Shores Resort to dig razor clams. the surf was rough and I managed to dig only one medium sized razor clam.

Razor Clams: At one time excluding the Clatsop Spit Beaches the digging of razor clams at Heceta Beach was considered the best place to dig razor clams in Oregon ahead of Agate Beach and Meyers Beach. According to local diggers digging productivity varies from poor to very good depending on the tidal range and surf conditions.

Heceta and Baker Beach Razor Clams: Last summer ODFW reported some razor clams were dug from the northern reach of Baker Beach.

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.There are some parking permit required to park at the beaches north of the North Jetty of the Siuslaw River. Parking is free at the North Jetty and at the public beach access parking area immediately south of the Driftwood Shores resort. A Lane County parking permit is required to park at the end Heceta Beach Road. There is a day use fee to park at the Sutton Lake Recreational area on the west side of Hwy 101 just north of Florence except for holders of the Golden Eagle pass program. The recreational area at Baker Beach via the Baker Beach Rd requires a day use fee or displaying the passes of the Golden Eagle program.

Baker Beach Rd. is the northern most access road to the beaches located north of the North Jetty except for the trail that leads to Baker Beach from the turnout overlooking the beach from Hwy 101.

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.

Internet links of interest:Tidal Projections: Click on at entrance of the estuary to view the NOAA tidal projections for the entrance to the Siluslaw River Estuary, or click on City Dock to view the tidal projections for the city dock. The tide at Florence occurs 55 minutes later than at the entrance to river jetty.

Click on the River Gage at Mapleton to display the height of the river level for the Siuslaw River – Near Mapleton

Click on the Northwest Forecast River Center and scroll down and over the icon for the water level gauge station of choice. Click the river gage station icon to display the river gage station information.

Click on the Marine Forecast to view the marine forecast from Florence to Cape Blanco featuring Small Craft Warning.

Click on navigational hazards to avoid when crossing the Siuslaw River.

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 heart–pounding 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 class–A 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 Road is 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 crabbing dock is 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. Barret Lake is a small but isolated lake just south of the Siuslaw River Estary and is accessible by walking north from the junction of Odd Fellow's Road and the South Jetty Road. I could not find any reference to the species of fish common to the lake, if any.

198.1 Siltcoos Beach road is the access to the beach associated with the Siltcoos River. Turn west from Highway 101 into the Siltcoos entrance of the Oregon Dunes National Recreational Area. Fishing for steelhead trout and Coho salmon from the Siltcoos river is excellent durin the fall and winter runs. Check ODFW for season and bag limits. The beach north of the Siltcoos River is renowned for catching redtail surfperch. The best surf fishing is located on the beach 1 to 2 miles north of the Siltcoos River. Motor vehicles are prohibited on the beach from Siltcoos Beach Road to Sparrow Park Road.

Siltcoos Lake at 3,164 acres is one of the largest natural lakes in Oregon. Siltcoos Lake (from Wikimedia)is located south of Florence east of Hwy 101. The lake contains black crappie, brown bullhead, yellow perch, bluegill, largemouth bass, cutthroat trout, rainbow trout and supports a terrific run of Coho salmon. The Oregon Stat record for Coho salmon was taken from Siltcoos. The thrill of catching the largest fish of any species is an accomplishment that few experience.

Siltcoos Lake (from Wikimedia)is located south of Florence east of Hwy 101. The lake contains black crappie, brown bullhead, yellow perch, bluegill, largemouth bass, cutthroat trout, rainbow trout and supports a terrific run of Coho salmon. The Oregon Stat record for Coho salmon was taken from Siltcoos. The thrill of catching the largest fish of any species is an accomplishment that few experience.

Cleawox Lake is an 82 acre lake located south of Florence on the westside of Highway 101 at the Jessy M. Honeyman State Park. Honeyman State Park is the second largest overnight camp in the state. There are two miles of sand dunes between the park and the ocean. Two natural freshwater lakes are within the park. Cleawox -- which is great for swimming -- and Woahink, which has a public boat ramp, is used for all water sports. Rent a canoe and explore the lake.

Woahink Lake is an 787 acre lake located south of Florence east of Highway 101 at Honeyman State Park. Woahink Lake (from Wikimedia) contains yellow perch, largemouth bass, brown bullhead and bluegill plus the lake with all sizes of the rainbow trout each spring. Little Woahink Lake is a small lake located just north of Woahink.

Spring brings out the pink rhododendrons. Come summertime, this is a great place for family reunions. The fall huckleberries and blackberries are ripe for the picking. This a camp for all seasons.

Cleawox lake contain largemouth bass, yellow perch, black crappie, brown bullhead and bluegill plus the lake with all sizes of the rainbow trout each spring. Bear Lake is an isolated lake locate west of Cleawox and is accessible by hiking or Atv. Visitor to the area should be equipped to deal with damp rainy conditions.

198.7 Carter Lake - 28 acres; south of Florence, west of Highway 101. The lake contains largemouth bass, yellow perch ann is stocked with catchable rainbow trout. Carter Lake Campground and Taylor Dune Trailhead is handicap accessible. The first quarter mile of the Taylor Dune Trail is handicap accessible. Follow the beach trail to the beach to fish for redtail surfperch and the accasional striped bass.

200.8 The Oregon Dunes Overlook offers the visitor two viewing platforms that are connected by boardwalks that are completely handicap accessible. The platforms provide the visitor with a scenic view of the dunes. Follow the 1 mile trail to the beach. The entire beach offers excellent fishing for redtail surfperch and for the occasional striped bass.

Perkins Lake varies up to six acres in size and it is stocked with rainbow trout by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. There is a priviate home on the lake. Please respect their property.

202.3 Tahkenitch Creek Trailhead to the beach is accessed by parking at the Tahkenitch Creek Trailhead and hiking along the Tahkenitch Dunes Threemile Lake Loop to the beach. The entire beach offers excellent fishing for redtail surfperch and for the occasional striped bass.

Tahkenitch Lake is one of the larger lakes on the Oregon coast with a surface area of 1674 acres. The name is from an Indian word that is said to mean "many arms." The lake contains black crappie, brown bullhead, yellow perch, bluegill, largemouth bass, cutthroat trout, rainbow trout and supports a terrific run of Coho salmon.

Tahkenitch Lake Boat Launches: Tahkenitch Fishing Village is a private launch with a launch fee. Call 541 271 5222.

Tahkenitch Boat Launch a U.S. Forest Service facility, I think. I was unable to determine if there is a launch fee or day use fee associated with the lake. Both Douglas and Lane Counties have day use fees, however there are some parking areas where the fees are not charged.

Elbow Lake is a 13 acre lake located on the west side of Hwy 101 thirteen miles south of Florence. The lake contains largemouth bass, yellow perch and is planted each spring with a limited number of good sized rainbow trout. There is a single lane road that fishermen use to lauch small cartop boats. The road does not have a boat ramp.

207.5 Sparrow Park Road is the access road to the beach south to the North Jetty of Umpqua Bay. Sparrow Park Road is located 1.5 miles north of Gardiner. The fishing is excellent for redtail surfperch and striped bass and the beach south to the North Jetty is a productive location to dig for razor clams. R/Vs and trailers should avoid the long narrow and winding road to the beach. There is a turn around at the end of the road, but the only parking available is on the beach. Motor vehicles are only allowed to travel on the beach south to the north jetty; however, motor vehicles are allowed access through the sand dunes to the west shore of Umpqua Bay on Clam Bed Road. Local fishermen use ATVs to access the beach south to the North Jetty to fish this hotspot for redtail surfperch and striped bass. Fishing for cutthroat trout in Three Mile Lake is an option for those fit enough to make the hike.

Loon Lake a 258.3 acre lake is accessible From I-5 in Oregon, take the Drain Exit south of Cottage Grove.Travel 43 miles west on State HWY 38 to Mill Creek Road, 4 miles west of Scottsburg. From US HWY 101 and Reedsport, travel 13 miles east on State HWY 38 to Mill Creek Road and follow the signs.

(From Atlas of Oregon Lakes, Johnson et al. 1985)  Loon Lake sits in beautiful surroundings in the Coast Range east of Reedsport and is a classic example of a landslide lake. Great blocks of sandstone fell from the west wall of the Lake Creek valley to lie as a jumbled mass of blocks that impounded the waters of Lake Creek. Carbon-14 dating of trees drowned at the time of damming indicate that the event occurred about 1460 years ago. Loon Lake a 258.3 acre lake was originally much longer, extending several miles upstream. Its size is gradually being reduced as the outlet stream erodes through the natural dam. While the sides and outlet end of the lake are flanked by steep, timber-covered slopes, the inlet end is flat pastureland of lakebed origin that became exposed as erosion reduced the height of the barrier at the outlet. Loon Lake was apparently discovered in 1852 by explorers from Scottsburg and named for the presence of loons nesting on the water.

The drainage basin of Loon Lake is primarily forest land, with a mix of private and Bureau of Land Management lands. The lake is heavily used for public recreation, including fishing, camping, and water skiing. A BLM campground, swimming beach, and boat launch are located near the outlet and a resort and private summer cabins flank the upper portion of the lake.

Loon Lake is relatively deep and develops a sharp thermal stratification during the summer. The depth of the thermocline is rather shallow, indicating less wind-induced mixing than is found in Oregon coastal lakes. The water is noticeably turbid during the winter when heavy rains bring much surface runoff. The turbidity persists in the deeper water during the summer and may contribute to density stratification. Deeper water is sometimes low in dissolved oxygen and somewhat higher in conductivity than surface water. These conditions are a consequence of the density stratification.

The quality of the water in the lake is quite good. Extensive growths of macrophytes develop in shallow water areas. During summer months, the concentrations of chlorophyl and phosphorus are quite low and water transparency is quite high. Based on these characteristics, Loon Lake is classified as oligotrophic. The depletion of oxygen in the deeper water is seemingly inconsistent with the chlorophyl and phosphorus data and as noted, suggests that oxygen depletion may be related to material washed into the lake during the winter from the watershed rather than from the decay of plants growing in the lake itself.

Loon Lake Nestled in a beautiful forested setting, the Loon Lake offers good trout fishing in the spring and early summer as well as many other recreational activities such as swimming, water skiing, boating and camping.

Umpqua River Estuary

The Umpqua River Estuary is Oregon’s third largest bay and one of the most productive. Historically the catch rate for coho and Chinook salmon in the offshore waters is one of the highest of any port along the Oregon Coast. There is a lighted whistle buoy located .9 tenths of a mile west of the south jetty light. The south jetty is marked with a light with a seasonal fog signal and radar reflector. A 086 degree lighted range and a buoy mark the entrance channel which is subject to frequent changes. Early settlers realized the potential of establishing a commercial port at the Umpqua River Estuary, and at the settlers urging, the Federal Government built the first lighthouse on the Oregon Coast at the entrance to the Umpqua River Estuary in 1857. Building the lighthouse on the sand was a mistake and b 1861 erosion had undermined the lighthouse and it collapsed.

Ships crossing the bar at the Umpqua River Estuary were at the mercy of an unstable channel that was constantly shifting. Nature was unmerciful when the brewery vessel Willamina ran aground at the entrance to Winchester Bay while attempting to deliver Pacific Pride beer to thirsty fishermen. The construction of the north jetty in 1919 and the south jetty in 1933 helped to establish the Umpqua River Estuary as a major port of entry for sport fishermen, but the entrance to the bar and the jetty channel are still subject to dangerous tidal conditions. Recorded weather and bar condition reports are available by calling (541) 271-8417. Breaking waves can be encountered on the Umpqua River bar at any time. The following underlined areas describe some of the dangerous tidal conditions that affect boating safety in the jetty channel of the Umpqua River or crossing the Umpqua River Bar as listed on the Web Page for Oregon State Marine Board at www.boatoregon.com.

The Umpqua River is Oregon’s second longest coastal river and is dominated for extended periods by freshwater runoff from seasonal rains and/or snowmelt originating in the Cascades. The tidal reach of the Umpqua and the Smith Rivers extend upriver for 27.09 and 23.98 miles respectively. Public access to the riverbanks in the tidewater reach of the Umpqua River is limited by private property. Public access to the riverbanks in the tidewater reach of the Smith River is more accessible than the Umpqua River.

The Smith River is a large coastal river that flows into Umpqua River Estuary 11.49 miles above the jetty jaws and was named after the legendary Mountain Man, Jedediah Smith. Jedediah was the first white man to cross the Sierra Nevada Mountains into California and to walk from California to the Columbia River. Jedediah was one of eighteen trappers camped at the confluence of the Smith and Umpqua Rivers. Jedediah and two other trappers were away from camp when Kelawatset Indians attacked the trapper’s camp killing all but one of the trappers.

215.5 Winchester Bay on the Umpqua River Estuary: The crabbing and fishing reports are provided by the outdoor reporter and outdoor writer, Pete Heley at Pete Heley's Outdoor Publicaitons at the Stockade Market. Read Pete's weekly outdoor report for all aspects of recreational fishing and crabbing in the Umpqua Post at http://www.theumpquapost.com/. The Stockade Market carry a complete line of equipment for crabbing, clam digging and fishing equipment.

Crabbing:

The Lower Umpqua River Estuary Map of crabbing and clam distribution.

In June 2014, I spent the morning crabbing from the Coast Guard crabbing dock in Winchester Bay without taking a legal crab. I spoke to the only other crabber and he had taken only 1 crab in 2 days of crabbing. The video clip captures the continued deterioration of the crabbing dock. How long will it be before the dock is permanently closed? We have lobbied our political representatives and while they all agree we need to restore the sturctural integrity those grant commitees that fund these types of projects have failed to do so.

In August 2012, I took my wife crabbing at Coast Guard crabbing dock at Winchester Bay, but the strong NW wind kept her in the truck. We arrived at 10:30 and crabbed for 2 hours. Even though I caught over 100 plus Dungeness crabs I only managed to take 2 legal crabs using 2 Crab Max crab traps. One crab was soft and the other crab had lost its pinchers and having no desire to keep a hard shell crab with very small pinchers I returned both to the bay. I crabbed with a new collapsing crab pot using the heads and guts from 8 cutthroat tout we caught yesterday evening. I pulled the pot twice in 2 hours and managed to catch 2 small crabs. This is the second time I have used trout heads for bait and each time the catch was disappointing; so from now on I will use the heads and guts from the trout I clean as garden bait.

Crabber Ted and another crabber both took the 6 Dungenss crabs using crab rings. Ted and the other crabber started crabbing at low slack around 5:30 am. Ted had been camped at Winchester Bay for a week and had limited out each day, but he had to crab during the entire incoming tide each day to do so.

Clam Digging:

05/29 clam digger Dutch reports diggers did very well on softshell clams at Bolon Island taking limits of large clams. Softshell clams are the dominate clam species in the Umpqua River Estuary. The tidal flats associated with Bolon Island and Gardiner offer the digger the best access. Click on Digging Softshell Clams on Umpqua River Estuary to view the video showing one of the best methods for digging softshell clams.

My buddy Dutch digging gaper clams from the Triangle at Winchester Bay. The population of the large sized gaper clams varies greatly during periods of continuous storm water run of persist for extended periods.

Internet links of interest for the Umpqua River Estuary:

Tidal Projections: Click on the NOAA tidal projections for Oregon. Scroll down to Umpqua River Estuary and click on your area of interest.

Click on the navigational hazards to avoid when crossing the bar at Winchester Bay.

Click on the Marine Forecast from Florence to Cape Blanco featuring Small Craft Warning.

Click on Northwest River Forecast Center: Scroll over the river gauge station. Click the river gauge station icon to display the river gauge station information

Click on the height of the river level for the Umpqua River – Near Elkton

Recommended link: Click on the following link to see an detailed hourly forecast for weather and surf conditions on the southern Oregon Coast. Then click your coastal zone of interest to view the detail information compiled on the Marine Digital Point Forecast Matrix Interface.

Fishing in the Umpqua River Estuary and Winchester Bay:

Chinook Salmon return to the Umpqua River in the spring and fall and to the Smith River in the fall. Feeder Chinook salmon often enter Umpqua River Estuary in July and are caught between Winchester Bay and buoy 19. The largest Chinook salmon ever landed in Oregon weighed 83.0 pounds and was caught in the Umpqua River in 1910. Spring Chinook salmon in the Umpqua River offer anglers one of the best opportunities to set a new state record.

Spring Chinook salmon enter Winchester Bay in April, peaking in late April or in May and running into June. The run of Spring Chinook salmon is usually comprised of high percentage of mature 5 and 6 year old fish. Spring Chinook spend very little time in the lower tidal reach of the Umpqua River Estuary. Some anglers experience success trolling for spring Chinook salmon along the south jetty with a plug cut herring, but the most productive fishing occurs above Scottsburg. Fish with bait wrapped Flatfish lures, Rogue Bait Rig and anchovy combinations, spinners or bait sweetened Spin–N–Glos using a wire spreader rigged with a 12 inch sinker dropper line and a 36 inch leader line to present the bait to the salmon. It usually requires a 2 to 8 ounce sinker to walk the bait to the desired location, 15 to 60 feet behind the boat. During periods of low river flows, anchor above and fish in the deeper water between the slots of the rock ledges. During the increased flow of spring runoff, anchor in the shallow water on the inside of a curve and fish at a depth of 4 to 10 feet from the inside out.

My friend Bill Morris caught this Spring Chinook downstream from Reedsport in 2013. My friend Steve Schuttpelz caught the fat red meated Chinook jack with his hand tied red ant fly at the deadline of Winchester Creek (see the video for more informatiion) at Winchester Bay.

Umpqua River fall Chinook salmon begin returning in late August or early September peaking in late September into early October. The age class of the returning Chinook is usually comprised of higher percentage of younger 3 year old fish followed by 4 year old fish.

Early in the run concentrate fishing in lower Winchester Bay. Most anglers fish between the East Basin and buoy 12 trolling a plug cut herring with the incoming tide in the channel that parallels the east shore along the south jetty to buoy 12 or in the deepwater channel that parallels the west shore from buoy 12 in a straight line to buoy 15 then to buoy 17 on east shore. As the number of returning fish increase troll a plug cut herring or rainbow colored spinners from buoy 17 to the International Paper Co. Chinook salmon often hold the deepwater between buoy 19 and buoy 21. Anchor and fish with bait wrapped Flatfish lures or with wobblers. Fish for Chinook salmon holding underneath the Highway 101 Bridge at Reedsport or in the deeper holes at confluence of the Smith and Umpqua Rives by trolling a plug cut herring or rainbow colored spinners.

To fish the tidal reach of the Umpqua River above the Smith River, launch a boat at the Umpqua Wayside State Park or at Scottsburg. Trolling a plug cut herring with the high incoming tide is the most productive method used to catch Chinook salmon followed by trolling a bait-wrapped Flatfish lure, spinners or a spinner bait combination. Back bounce, back troll or troll with the outgoing tide using a plug cut herring, bait wrapped Flatfish lures, spinners, a spinner bait combinations, wobblers or with a walnut sized gob of salmon eggs topped with a sand shrimp. Anchor up current above the deeper holes above Scottsburg and bobber fish with salmon eggs and sand shrimp or fish on the bottom using salmon eggs topped with sand shrimp, bait sweetened Spin–N–Glos or wobblers.

Fall Chinook salmon return to the Smith River in October. The run usually peaks in late October, and the age class of the returning Chinook is usually comprised of 4 and 5 year old fish. In early October fish for Smith River fall Chinook in lower Winchester Bay using the same methods used to fish for fall Umpqua River Chinook. Fish in the lower tidal reach of the Smith River from the confluence with the Umpqua River to the South Side Bridge trolling a plug cut herring, bait wrapped Flatfish lures or spinners with the incoming tide. Back bounce or Back troll with the outgoing tide using a plug cut herring, a walnut sized gob of salmon eggs topped with sand shrimp, bait wrapped Flatfish lures or spinners. To fish the upper tidal reach of the Smith River launch at the Noel Ranch launch or the Riverside boat launch. Drift with the tidal current using a free sliding bobber to fish a walnut sized gob of salmon eggs topped with a sand shrimp just off of the bottom. During the outgoing tide anchor up current above the deeper holes and fish with bait wrapped Flatfish lures, bait sweetened Spin–N–Glos, wobblers, a walnut size gob of salmon eggs or bobber fish with salmon eggs and sand shrimp.

Coho salmon return from September peaking in October and running into early November. Fish for coho salmon early in the run trolling plug cut herring, chartreuse hoochies or streamer flies with the incoming tide in the lower bay from the south jetty to buoy 12. Troll these baits behind a diver or wire spreader in the upper half of the water column. Be sure to troll a plug cut herring with a tight spin and at speeds between 3 and 5 knots. Fly fishing and/or trolling or casting spinners in the tidal flats associated with the City of Gardiner and the site of the former International Paper Mill is a favorite of local anglers. The water in the Umpqua River is often stained or murky with sediment. Fish with rainbow or dark colored spinners with brass or copper blades in stained water and light colored spinners with silver accents in clear water. Pink or chartreuse colored spinners are very effective when fishing for coho in the tidal flats. Umpqua Bay boast the highest catch rate of coho salmon for any of Oregon’ coastal bays.

Striped bass enter the Umpqua River Estuary from middle of March before spawning in the Smith and Umpqua Rivers in June, but they only spawn successfully in the Smith River. Striped bass spawn successfully in the Smith River more not than often. ODFW has a policy of managing in favor of salmon over striped bass. The larger mature striped bass enter the estuary followed by schools of smaller striped bass feeding heavily on spawning herring from middle of March into early April. The striped bass move upriver to the Scottsburg reach feeding on smelt and shad during their respective runs. After spawning in June the stripers move down river feeding heavily before returning to the ocean in the middle of September. Oregon’s largest striped bass at 68.0 pounds was caught in the Umpqua River.

Fish for striped bass upstream from lower Umpqua River Estuary from the south jetty to the confluence of the Smith River using the methods detailed in the section describing striped bass. Concentrate fishing around the islands upstream to the confluence of the Smith River and in Scholfield Creek. Fish in the structure associated with the bridges and railroad trestles that cross the Smith and Umpqua Rivers. Fish in the main stem Umpqua River from the confluence with the Smith River to the head of tidewater above Scottsburg. Launch above tidewater at Sawyer’s Rapids and drift to Scottsburg Park. Fishing from Scottsburg to Sawyer Rapids can be exceptional anytime from the middle of March as the stripers feed heavily on smelt. Shad return the Umpqua River during May and June. Back bounce using whole smelt or strip bait cut from shad from Sawyer’s Rapids to Scottsburg during their respective runs during March–April and May–June. Fish striped bass in the tidal reach of the Smith River from Hudson Slough or Otter Slough to the head of tidewater. Most anglers fishing in the Smith River concentrate fishing for stripers in the Noel Ranch area from the middle of March to June.

Black rockfish and blue rockfish fishing is poor during heavy freshwater runoff from November through February. Fishing is usually good from late spring through October except for periods of heavy runoff from snowmelt in the Cascades. The best fishing occurs after sunset on an incoming tide in the channel along the jetties or in the harbor. Remember if you’re going to fish in the jetty channel at night do so only on an incoming tide and when the ocean is clam.

Pileperch, striped seaperch, walleye surfperch, redtail surfperch and white seaperch enter Winchester Bay in spring. Schools of perch move onto the tidal flats feeding heavily on intertidal animals. Perch are caught upriver as far as Double Cove Pt on the east shore and Buoy 17 on the west shore. Fish between Buoy 12 and 15, ODFW reference. Striped perch are the predominant perch species caught in the bay except during the years when redtail surfperch enter the bay. The greatest numbers of striped perch are caught at the triangle while redtail perch and pileperch are taken further inside the bay to buoy 15 and along the east shore of the East Basin. The fishing ranges from fair to excellent late spring through fall depending on the tides, weather and snowmelt runoff.

Greenling: kelp greenling, whitespotted greenling and rock greenling enter Winchester Bay with the tide from late spring through the summer months. The best fishing occurs along the rocky structure associated with the triangle followed by the jetties and occasionally the structure associated with the boat basins.

Lingcod spawn along the rocky structure of the jetties from late January throughout March. Fishing is excellent during the spawning period along either ocean side or the bayside of the triangle and the south jetty. Historically the fishing for lingcod rates behind Yaquina Bay in productivity.

Cabezon are year–round residents. February through March is the most productive time of the year along the south jetty at the triangle. Fishing is slow the rest of the year.

Pacific herring enter the bay to spawn from February into April. Live herring are available at the Umpqua Bait Co. in the East Basin of Winchester Bay.

Starry Flounder fishing is fair during spring and poor for the rest of the year. Drift from the East Basin seaward using sand shrimp, blood worms or pile worms for bait.

White sturgeon enter the bay for most of the year. The sturgeon fishery ranks second behind sturgeon fishery of Tillamook Bay. The best fishing occurs from January through June but declines sharply from the middle of July before picking up again in December. Mud and/or sand shrimp are the most productive bait throughout the year followed by smelt, shad and herring.

Big Bend is the transition area between the lower and upper bay and is the most popular location to fish for sturgeon. Fish in the deeper holes associated with the channels and tidal flats around the islands in Big Bend. Fish in the deeper holes upstream from Buoy 12 to Buoy 21. Fish from Buoy 12 to Buoy 15 in water that is 15’ to 20’ deep. Fish from Buoy 17 to Buoy 19 in the deepwater channel along the outside of Big Bend. The “Wall Hole” which is nearly 50 feet deep at buoy 19 in Big Bend is the most productive location to catch sturgeon in the lower bay.

Fish upriver from the Wall Hole to the paper mill and in the holes associated with the islands at the confluence of the Smith and Umpqua Rivers.

Fish the deeper holes in the Umpqua River from the confluence with the Smith River to the Deans Creek elk viewing area or from Deans Creek to Scottsburg using smelt or shad for bait. Fishing in the holes associated with the power lines or below the confluence with Mill Creek is very productive. The smelt run anytime from January through March. Fresh smelt or shad is the most productive bait during their respective spawning seasons. Fish for sturgeon from May through June using shad caught at Sawyer Rapids for bait. The Umpqua River boast one of the best shad runs on the Pacific Coast.

Sand Sole enter the bay in small numbers from April through August.

Bank fishing: Fish for perch, greenling, bass, lingcod and salmon from the jetties and triangle breakwater in the lower bay.

Fish for striped bass from the shore at Half Moon Bay located just above the south jetty. Fish for pile and stripped perch along the east shore north of the Coast Guard Station in the East Basin. Fish for salmon and perch from shore at end of Oak Point located between the West and East Basins. Fish for Chinook salmon in the East Basin just below the bridge over Winchester Creek. Fish at night for bass on an incoming tide from the south jetty. Park at the turnout on the west side of Highway 101 located at mile mark 210.0 and fish for sturgeon and striped bass on the downstream side of the railroad trestle. Fish for sturgeon upriver on the Umpqua River at the confluence with Mill Creek. Fish for striped bass and salmon along the guardrail section of the Smith River Road above East Gardiner. Fish for striped bass at night during an incoming tide using frozen sardines rigged with a sliding sinker. Patience is required, because it may take hours for a school of stripers to appear.

Internet links of interest for the Umpqua River Estuary:

Tidal Projections: Click on the NOAA tidal projections for Oregon. Scroll down to Umpqua River Estuary and click on your area of interest.

Click on the navigational hazards to avoid when crossing the bar at Winchester Bay.

Click on the Marine Forecast from Florence to Cape Blanco featuring Small Craft Warning.

Click on Northwest River Forecast Center: Scroll over the river gauge station. Click the river gauge station icon to display the river gauge station information

Click on the height of the river level for the Umpqua River – Near Elkton

Recommended link: Click on the following link to see an detailed hourly forecast for weather and surf conditions on the southern Oregon Coast. Then click your coastal zone of interest to view the detail information compiled on the Marine Digital Point Forecast Matrix Interface.

Oregon Dunes camping and R/V parks.

215.7 Ziolkouski Beach Park is located south of Umpqua Bay and is reached through the community of Winchester Bay by taking the Salmon Harbor Recreational Area Exit west from Highway 101. Follow the signs along county road 251 to the three beach parking areas. Parking is free at the first parking area. A parking permit is required at the second and third parking areas. A wheelchair access area is available at the second parking area. The third parking area offers ATV access to the sand dunes only from the south jetty to Spinreel Campground.

Lake Marie is a small lake located within the Umpqua Lighthouse State Park. The lake is the trailhead for the 1 mile Lake Marie trail. The lake is only suitable for car top boats and Kayaks because the lake has no boat launching facilities. The lake is planted annually with thousand of rainbow trout and supports largemouth bass and yellow perch.

Clear Lake - 149 acres is located south of Winchester Bay, east of Highway 101. Native cutthroat trout. Access to the lake is restricted because the lake is the water source for the City of Reedsport. Clear Lake flows south in Edna Lake.

Edna Lake a 34.8 acre lake is located between Clear Lake and Teal Lake. The lake is surrounded by private property. The lake contains native cutthroat trout. Edna Lake flows into Teal Lake.

Teal Lake a 6.1 acre lake is located between Edna Lake and the remnant of Potts Lake. Potts Lake was filled when Highway 101 was constructed. Teal Lake is owned by the Shuttpelz family and contains native cutthroat trout. The lake is posted, so please respect their privacy

Shuttpelz Lake is a small, lightly fished lake just north of Hall Lake. Hall Lake is an 11.9 acre lake. The lakes are separated by small waterfall that prevents fish passage upstream to Shuttpelz Lake.  Fishing in Shuttpelz Lake catch-and-release only. There is good bank access on the western shore and many anglers pack a float tube or small raft to fish the brushy eastern shore. The lake is a short 0.5 mile hike from the new day-use area at Hall Lake. Hall Lake located across U.S. Hwy 101 from Tugman State Park. To get there follow Hwy101 north past Lakeside and turn west at the Wildwood Drive exit. Turn left at the sign for the Hall Lake Day Use Area. A simple gravel parking lot with restrooms and a grassy field compose the only developed elements of the park. Follow the trail mark signs to hike to Shuttpelz Lake. Both lakes contain cutthroat trout and largemouth bass.

221.5 Eel Lake a 347.3 acre lake is a large, deep lake located along the Oregon Coast between the Umpqua River and Coos Bay. Clear, Edna, Teal, Stuttpelz and Hall Lakes drain into the western side of Eel Lake via Clear Creek. Tributaries also include Eel and Marsh Creeks which flow into the east and west arms of the lake.  The lake’s outlet, Eel Creek, joins Tenmile Creek about a mile below Tenmile Lake before flowing into the Pacific.  Eel Lake, like many other lakes on the Oregon Coast was formed by a series of geological events that included changes in sea level and movement of coastal dunes.

Nearly all the shoreline of Eel Lake drops precipitously to a flat bottom of over eighteen meters deep. The average depth is 12.5 meters and the deepest point is approximately 20 meters. The northern portions of each of the lake’s arms gradually become shallower and end in extensive wetlands.

Eel Lake’s watershed consists of steep timber covered slopes ranging from 16 to 228 meters above sea level.  Rainfall within the watershed averages 74 inches per year.  There are a few residential areas to the west of the lake, but most of the watershed is owned by private logging interests and William M Tugman State Park. A boat launch, picnic facilities, restrooms, and hiking trails are provided in the State Park. There are no homes on the lakeshore. 

The lake is primarily used for fishing, boating, and drinking water supply.  The Lakeside Water District uses Eel Lake as a drinking water source for approximately 1200 residents of the City of Lakeside and surrounding areas.  Fish species include native cutthroat trout, coho salmon, steelhead, and rainbow trout; and non-native largemouth bass, yellow perch, and bluegill.  The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife stocks Eel Lake with rainbow trout each spring. 

222.0 Tenmile Lake a 1138.5 acre lake (From Atlas of Oregon Lakes, Johnson et al. 1985) and North Tenmile lake arehaccessible via Lakeside Junction. Tenmile Lake is the largest in a series of lake basins that drain the west side of the Coast Range south of the Umpqua River. It is the farthest south in a chain that includes Clear Lake, Eel Lake, North Tenmile Lake and several smaller water bodies. The lake was originally known as Johnson Lake, but the U. S. Board of Geographic Names has officially named it Tenmile Lake; the name South Tenmile Lake is incorrect but is in common usage. Tenmile and North Tenmile Lakes were undoubtedly named for Tenmile Creek which connects them to the ocean. In turn, the creek was so named because it was supposed to be about 10 miles south of Winchester Bay, the first pioneer settlement on this part of the coast.

The entire chain of lakes owes its existence to the same series of geological events as described by Cooper (1958). Ancestral Tenmile Creek was the mainstem of a stream network that drained this entire region, Eel Creek a tributary entering from the north, and Clear Creek a tributary of Eel Creek. During a time of coastal submergence which accompanied post-glacial warming, the whole system underwent a period of readjustment. The main valley and the lower courses of its tributary valleys were inundated. A bar of sand dunes formed across the river mouth and the ponded valley thus became a large lake with branches extending up the tributaries. As submergence continued the depth of the lake increased and the arms were extended farther upstream. At the same time, dunes along the shore north of Tenmile Creek were advancing inland and eventually entered broadside into the valley of Clear Creek, impounding its headwaters and forming what is now Clear Lake. As drainage from Clear Lake flowed into the Eel Creek valley a delta began to form which developed into a sand flat blocking off the upper portion of the valley and giving rise to Eel Lake. The overflow from Eel Lake then carried sand farther downstream and resumed delta formation in the lake occupying the submerged valley of Tenmile Creek. The delta extended itself across the lake to the south shore and farther upstream and downstream. Upstream the delta made contact with the promontory separating the large, submerged north and south arms of Tenmile Creek, thus segregating the present North Tenmile Lake and (South) Tenmile Lake, and producing the extensive sand flat upon which the village of Lakeside now stands. Since that time, movement of sand has ceased and a forest cover has developed so that there have been no further substantial modifications of the drainage pattern.

The drainage basin of Tenmile Lake is thus quite large and includes the basin of North Tenmile Lake within it. Other major tributaries entering the various arms include Shutter Creek, Adams Creek, Johnson Creek and Benson Creek. In contrast to Eel and Clear Lakes, the Tenmile Lakes are quite shallow and have filled in with rich organic matter which washes in from the drainage basin; narrow marshes border the lakes in several areas. The bottom material is sand, muck and peat. In some places around Tenmile Lake the surface topography is very steep and there is frequent slumping of overlying sedimentary material into the water, thereby gradually reducing lake depth. The upland area of the drainage basin is primarily covered by forest and is almost totally in private ownership, as is the shoreline of the lake.

The ecological characteristics of the Tenmile Lakes are dominated by their very shallow depth and the effects of introduced species of rooted macrophytes, particularly the Brazilian water weed (Elodea). Major ion concentrations are below average for coastal lakes; but phosphorus and chlorophyl concentrations were above average, and nitrate values were extremely high when sampled for this survey. Water transparency is below average for coastal lakes. These are all indicators of an eutrophic lake. Algal blooms are frequently observed in the water, and there is a noticeable oxygen depletion of the bottom water even though the lake is shallow. The phytoplankton surveys reported here showed quite high algal densities in spring and late fall, when cooler water temperatures normally reduce algal densities. Summer algae would be even more dense. A bloom of Aphanizomenon, a blue-green alga typical of highly eutrophic lakes, was reported by in August, 1956 (Phinney and McLachlan 1956). Phytoplankton data for 11/22/82 show Gomphosphaeria, also a blue-green eutrophic alga, to be dominant in terms of biomass. McHugh (1972) reported dominance of Melosira during winter months, which again is typical of eutrophic lakes. The summer, fall, and winter phytoplankton contain indicators of eutrophic conditions; however the spring sample is more typical of a lower trophic state as indicated by the biomass dominance of Dinobryon. Dinobryon is usually regarded as occurring most frequently in low-phospate, or oligotrophic, lakes, but this may be an exception. Undoubtedly some of the nutrient input into the lake is due to the heavy recreational use and the large number of homes around the shoreline. Also, the shallow nature of the lake allows nutrients to be resupplied readily from bottom sediments. 

Tenmile Lake has long been popular with recreationists from the local area as well as with large numbers of users from the interior valleys. In fact, Tenmile Lake receives more use by boaters (over 40,000 boater use days per year) than any other lake in Oregon (Frenkel 1975). Like the north lake, Tenmile has good rainbow fishing but it is the success with bass and panfish that attracts most anglers. Largemouth bass activity has been so good that limits are often the rule. Bluegill is the most prolific species in the lake.

In spite of the excellent fishing now found in Tenmile Lake, the history of the fishery is an unfortunate one (Grenfell 1969, Schwartz 1977). Earlier this century large populations of cutthroat trout, silver salmon and steelhead passed through the Tenmile Lakes system to spawn in the tributary streams. The rich, productive lakes provided an ideal habitat for fish growth. The size of fish taken by anglers was impressive and the reputation of the Tenmile Lakes as producers of trophy fish was well established. In an attempt to create more variety and to develop a warm water fishery, yellow perch and brown bullhead were introduced, probably in the 1920s. These new species prospered, but at the expense of the salmon and trout. In time the quality of the salmon and trout fishery declined drastically as the increased numbers of warm water fish decreased the food supply. Studies of the problem were begun by the State Game Commission about 1938 and in 1953 an intensive study program was started with the goal of eliminating undesirable species and rebuilding the salmon and trout runs. These runs had also been adversely affected over the years by the deterioration of spawning grounds. Logging operations made some tributaries unsuitable for spawning salmon, while on others siltation reduced productivity. Much loss has also resulted from re-channeling of streams by landowners to obtain better drainage and more farming areas, usually in the flatter areas around the mouths of tributaries that make good pasture.

North Tenmile Lake a 829.2 acre companion lake just north of Temile Lake is joined to each other by a channel. (From Atlas of Oregon Lakes, Johnson et al. 1985)  North Tenmile Lake is a large natural lake on the Oregon coast south of the mouth of the Umpqua River. It is part of the well-known "Tenmile Lakes" system which includes the larger Tenmile Lake immediately to the south. The lakes are named for Tenmile Creek, which connects them to the ocean. The creek was so named because it was thought to be about ten miles south of the pioneer settlement at Winchester Bay. The geological development of these lakes from an old stream system is described earlier in this volume in the Tenmile Lake report. North Tenmile Lake shows a distinctive dendritic, or branching, pattern characteristic of lakes formed in submerged river valleys. Surface streams enter at several arms of the lake and the outflow is into a navigable channel leading to Tenmile Lake about half a mile away.

Most of the shoreline property around North Tenmile Lake is privately owned and some small water rights exist for domestic use and irrigation by local land owners. Timber companies own most of the land throughout the drainage basin, much of which was logged off in the 1940s. Brush and second-growth timber now cover the hills in this part of the Coast Range. North Tenmile Lake receives heavy recreational use, particularly by fishermen, although not as much as Tenmile Lake. It is primarily trout water while the other is a bass lake. Bluegill are also found in North Tenmile Lake in great numbers. In some years coho salmon run up Tenmile Creek to the lakes and provide good angling.

The Tenmile Lakes are later in their geological stage of development than Clear and Eel Lakes, which were part of the same ancestral stream system. Clear and Eel are deeper with relatively steep shorelines. North Tenmile is a shallow lake with a mean depth of 11 feet and is gradually filling in with nutrient-rich sediment from the drainage basin. Narrow marshes border much of the lake and the bottom is composed of sand, muck and peat. There are dense growths of rooted macrophytes, including the genera Brasenia nuphar, Typha, Potamogeton, Myriophyllum, and particularly Elodea which was introduced in the 1940s. The long history of problems with macrophytes and fish populations in the Tenmile Lakes is discussed in the earlier report.

Water quality in the two lakes is similar although North Tenmile is slightly more eutrophic, a determination based on concentrations of total phosphorus and chlorophyl, transparency, conductivity and nitrates. The sample taken on 5/5/82 showed a high nitrate concentration. Algal blooms have been noted, particularly Volvox aureus and Melosira granulata. Both Volvox and Asterionella formosa, also commonly found, have been associated with taste and odor problems, indicating the highly enriched state of North Tenmile Lake.

222.5 The Umpqua Trailhead (John Dellenback Trail) is located between Coos Bay and Winchester Bay west of Highway 101 just south of the Lakeside junction. Turn west from Highway 101 onto the trailhead access road. Access to the beach is by a four mile hiking trail. Watch for Snowy Plover Seasonal Closure Areas March 15 – Sept 15. The fishing is excellent for redtail surfperch mostly during Spring and striped bass following the rare instances when they have successfully spawned.

224.3 The Spinreel Campground provides easy access to the beach by off road vehicles to the sand dunes and to the beach by ATVs to Horsefall Beach. On the beach fishing is excellent for redtail surfperch during the spring. Tenmile Creek offers excellent fishing for steelhead trout.

226.5 Saunders Lake a 41.4 acre lake (From Atlas of Oregon Lakes, Johnson et.

al 1985). (ODFW Photo) Saunders Lake is one of several lakes in an extensive area of sand dunes on the Oregon coast stretching from North Bend to Florence. It is more visible and more heavily used than most in this area because of its proximity to the Oregon Coast Highway. Along with other nearby lakes (including Horsfall and Beale Lakes in this study) it lies in a forested deflation plain on which the sand is stabilized by a dense growth of shrubs and trees, primarily pine and fir. Active dunal ridges, reaching about 100 feet above sea level, flank the plain on both sides and trend north and south parallel to the coast. There are no perennial streams in the area and the lake is a surface expression of seasonal fluctuations in the water table. Saunders Lake is relatively steep sided so changes in surface area are not as great as at other lakes on the deflation plain. Nevertheless, there is a distinct seasonal pattern. At high stages the lake is often connected to Clear Lake, a small 25-acre lake to the north, and there is also some surface outflow to the west. Ground water aquifers in the area are tapped by the Coos Bay North Bend Water Board for industrial use and that activity has had some effect on lake levels. During the 1976-77 drought the natural level of the lake dropped by several feet. For the most part the shoreline of Saunders Lake is private property with many home sites. 

Local residents probably withdraw some water from the lake for domestic use. There is a short stretch of county owned shoreline at the south end and the Department of Fish and Wildlife has provided a boat launching ramp. Fishing success can be had on Saunders Lake, particularly for a few wild cutthroat and planted rainbow trout in the spring and early summer. The lake offers largmouth bass and bluegill and yellow perch are also caught in good numbers. The maximum depth of Saunders Lake is 35 feet, but over half the lake is shallower than 10 feet and there is an extensive growth of water lilies and other macrophytes. However, in spite of this fact and the large number of homes around the shoreline, Saunders Lake has a lower trophic state than most of the other coastal lakes. Secchi disk depth, chlorophyll and phosphorus concentrations all indicate mesotrophic conditions, but quite close to oligotrophic.

227.5 Riley Ranch County Park is located at milepost 227 on US Highway 101 just west of the community of Hauser, Oregon and 6 miles north of North Bend, Oregon. Riley Ranch is adjacent to the Oregon Dunes National Recreational Area. Physical address is: 93507 Riley Ranch Lane, North Bend, OR 97459.

The campground currently consists of 92 reservable campsites with water and electrical hookups, and 2-16’x20’camping cabins.  Two Restroom/shower buildings.  No dump station in the park but there is a RV sanitary dump station available for use at Tenmile County Park 5 miles up the road at the town of Lakeside. The campground accommodates ATV users with direct dune access from your camp site. The Ranch also welcomes Equestrians.

The day use area consists of a large gravel parking area which can be used for overflow dry camping if the campground is full at the rate of 25/night. 

Butterfield Lake (ODFW Photo) borders the northern part of the campground and provides a fishing opportunity for campers and day users alike. The lake currently has largemouth bass, warmouth bass crappie, perch, and trout. The lake will be on ODW&F’s stocking program and be receiving trout several times a year. The lake will be open to boats but will be limited in size and restricted to electric trolling motors only.

232.3 North Bay Viewpoint is located on the west side of Highway101. The viewpoint is the access point to the tidal flats associated with the slough of North Coos Bay and a good location from which to view wildlife. Softshell clams are dug along the shore.

232.8 The Trans Pacific Parkway provides access to Horsfall Beach, North Beach and the west shore of Coos Bay. Turn west from Highway 101 drive toward the far shore and park at the turnout at the far side of the small bridge. Fishing the incoming tide for perch and striped bass is good. The tidal flats are a favorite location to pump for mud or sand shrimp.

232.8 Horsfall Beach is located above North Beach. Access is gained by turning west from Highway 101 onto the Trans Pacific Parkway and right on Horsfall Beach Road. The Horsfall Beach Campground has full service camping facilities and equestrians are welcome. Horsfall Beach is the surf fishing hot spot for Coos County for redtail surfperch and an occasional white seaperch. Fishing for striped bass is good to excellent in the years following the bass successfully spawning in the Smith River.

Bluebill Lake a 14.4 acre lake within the Bluebill Campground.

Bluebill Campground is located in the Horsfall Area, known for its excellent off-road vehicle trails. It is also conveniently located less than a mile from Pacific Coast beaches and 2 miles north of North Bend, Oregon. With such an ideal location for recreation, it's no wonder families love this site.

Natural Features:

Surrounded by shore pine, huckleberry and wax myrtle, Bluebill lies near Bluebill Lake, within a short drive from the coast. It is part of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, known for its wind-sculpted sand dunes towering up to 500 feet above sea level.

Recreation:

Rainbow trout fishing in Bluebill Lake is great, and the campground links up to the Bluebill Trail, which is a one-mile loop around the lake.

Off-road vehicle enthusiasts flock to the campground to cruise the surrounding dunes. Some parts of the dunes are designated for hiking and horseback riding only.

Facilities:

Bluebill is equipped with drinking water, vault toilets, campfire pits and dumpsters. A host is available to answer campers' questions.

Nearby Attractions:

Scenic waterways are in every direction of the campground. Head south to Coos Bay, west to the Pacific, and northeast to Horsfall Lake.

Know Before You Go

  • No off-road vehicles allowed in campground
  • Limit 2 vehicles per site; no parking available for extra vehicles
  • For more information on Siuslaw National Forest, click here
  • Don't Move Firewood: Please protect Pacific Northwest forests by preventing the spread of invasive species. Firewood can carry insects and diseases that can threaten the health of our western forests. You can make a difference by obtaining and burning your firewood near your camping destination. Visit Dontmovefirewood.org for further information.

Getting There:

GPS Info. (Latitude, Longitude):

43.44778, -124.26222
43°26'52"N, 124°15'44"W

From Reedsport, Oregon, take Highway 101 south for 22 miles to the Horsfall Dunes and Beach road sign; turn right and follow signs.

From Coos Bay/North Bend, Oregon, take Highway 101 north for about 2 miles to the Horsfall Dunes and Beach road sign, turn left and follow signs.

Phone Number: nformation:  (541)271-6000

232.8 North Beach located just north of the entrance to Coos Bay is listed by ODFW as a location to dig for razor clams. North Beach is administered by the BLM. North Beach is accessible by off road vehicles via the jeep trail from the Trans Pacific Parkway. Driving on the wet and dry sand areas of the beach is allowed from September 16th through March 14th and restricted to the wet sand area from March 15th through September 15th. Check with the BLM.

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