The Siuslaw River is one of our area’s greatest treasures—a source of beauty, inspiration, recreation, and livelihood. It’s an Oregon fishing haven.
And a darned-good place to catch salmon.
And crab. But more on that in a moment.
What Does Florence, Oregon Fishing Have in Store?
For the best Florence, Oregon fishing, local expert Bobby Jensen, owner of Breen Marine, says a boat will get you the best access and the best catches of either fish or crabs.
“Florence has an awesome fall season for Coho and Chinook. It starts in late August, September is strong, and it starts to slow in October—but you can catch year ‘round,” Jensen reports.
Those wishing to catch Coho or Chinook salmon, or a variety of other fish, need only find a place along the many docks in Florence. Alternatively, there are several other river access points from the river’s mouth all the way upstream to nearby Mapleton.
Two things to note as well:
1. The Siuslaw doesn’t have a spring Chinook season.
2. Sturgeon are great for sport fishing, but if caught in the Siuslaw, they must be released.
Lakes have perch, trout, bass, and other freshwater delectables. The ocean? Just about anything and everything else. Also, salmon and tuna have been incredible this year. It’s not unusual to spot whales, dolphins, or orca at different times of year once you go beyond the Siuslaw River bar.
Fishing on the Siuslaw
Fishing on the Siuslaw River is the gold standard for a fulfilling fishing experience in Florence, Oregon. It’s a fun and relaxing activity for families, and a potential thrill-a-minute adventure for skilled fishermen and fisherwomen. In fact, many locals say, “let’s go catching” instead of “let’s go fishing.”
The docks on the river near the marina in Historic Old Town Florence are a great place to wet a line. So is the riprap on the riverbank along Rhododendron Drive near the Oregon Coast Humane Society. Even the North Jetty and South Jetty can be productive but can be dangerous for the untrained.
There are also a few charter services to take you out on the river.
The best boat launch is at the Port of Siuslaw marina at the east end of Bay St. in Old Town. Stop into the Bridgeport Market and ask Jay Cable for the latest fishing tips and news. Pick up a wide variety of deli treats and snacks for your adventure and return at the end of the day for an adult beverage and to watch the pickups with their trailers jockey for position as they retrieve their boats.
Lake Fishing Around Florence
In and around Florence, fishing isn’t just limited to the river. There is also excellent lake fishing. There are actually more than a dozen lakes within a dozen miles!
Woahink Lake by Honeyman State Park has a quality, no-charge, deep launching ramp. “There’s hardly ever a wait to launch at Woahink,” says Jensen. The lake reaches a maximum depth of 60 to 75 feet. Other big lakes on your must-fish list and worthy of your time are Siltcoos, Sutton, Tahkenitch, Mercer, Munsel, and Cleawox.
Ocean Fishing and Charter Services in Florence
What could be more exciting than fishing the wide-open ocean? The Pacific Ocean is just four miles downstream from Historic Old Town Florence. There are several commercial charter companies to take you out on the river and over the bar to the ocean.
“Ocean fishing off Florence is incredible,” Jensen adds. “This year has been amazing for albacore tuna, halibut, salmon, and crab.”.
Jensen cautions those new to the area to check with the local Coast Guard Station and NOAA before heading out to the ocean because the Siuslaw River bar can be tricky. It’s necessary to go all the way out to “the can.” “The can” is a buoy that’s anchored about 200 yards off the tip of the jetties. “If you just turn north or south at the tip of the jetties, you’ll end up wrecked,” he warns. “The south jetty extends much further than one can see; it’s just under the surface and goes about two hundred yards further underneath the water.”
What You Need for fishing in Florence
According to Jensen, a nine-foot medium-action casting rod with a spinner is your best bet from either a boat or from shore. By boat, you’ll want to troll at about 1.8 miles per hour using an 8-oz lead ball with a shiny “flasher” lure and cut, frozen herring as bait. Lacking the fresh bait that the salmon prefer, Jensen says to get a Brad’s plastic herring and add herring scent to it. These are available at several stores in Florence. Jensen also recommends North Country Lures.
Once you catch your quarry, you need to clean it. There are two cleaning stations at the Port of Siuslaw marina at the east end of Historic Old Town Florence. If you don’t know how to clean your fish, many locals are happy to show you how. We’ll get back to this when we talk crabbing in a moment.
What About Boats?
Jensen recommends Chad Wiest of On the Line Guide Service. Wiest charters a 28-foot covered boat that fills up quickly. If you call and he’s booked up, he happily supports other charter services as well.
If you are a boat owner, you will find that the Port of Siuslaw has reasonable moorage fees and the best river launch in the area. That said, there are also other good privately-owned ones upstream.
If you need boat repair or are looking to buy a boat, Jensen’s Breen Marine is the place to go. You’ll find them at 2520 Highway 101, in Florence.
What About Crabbing?
Crabbing in and around Florence is excellent! Jensen uses raw chicken and says, “or I go Dumpster diving at the two cleaning stations at the Port of Siuslaw docks where fish guts are free.” Crabbing from the Port’s docks, the other public docks, from the crab dock along South Jetty Road, or a boat in the river or the ocean are all great options. For more details on crabbing in Florence, check our earlier blog on the website.
Oregon fishing and crabbing… just two more reasons that Florence is known as “Oregon’s Coastal Playground.” When you come for your next coastal playground adventure, be sure to call ahead and book your room directly with us for the best available rates and most accurate availability of rooms. Online booking agents tend to lag on information and don’t get our very best prices.