The signs of seasonal change are easy to see along Oregon’s rivers and streams where fall colors really light up the scene. But there’s another sign hidden in the water that you can’t see: salmon are coming home!

Oregon’s fall salmon fishing is big time outdoors recreation as thousands head to bays and rivers to catch big fish. That’s where we headed this week: where freshwater meets the ocean on a getaway to catch a salmon and then discovered new ways to cook the catch.

When daylight’s a glimmer on the eastern horizon, three generations of the Mill’s family agree that salmon fishing in the Nehalem River estuary is full of promise.

There was some something special about the Coho salmon: it was a wild fish that was born in the gravel. You could tell it was wild because it had an adipose fin – a half moon shaped fin in front of the tail. Hatchery salmon have that particular fin removed when they’re babies. Wild coho salmon have made a turn around and anglers are fortunate that they can catch and keep them this season.

Nehalem River estuary anglers are allowed to keep 1 wild Coho a day – 2 for the season until a quota of 1200 wild fish is reached. Anglers are also allowed to keep one additional hatchery Coho or a Chinook.

It’s the first time in 20 years that anglers have been allowed to harvest wild Coho and it signals a remarkable recovery that the state and federal fish and wildlife agencies began in the early 90’s.

about author Grant McOmie

Grant McOmie is a Pacific Northwest broadcast journalist, teacher and author who writes and produces stories and special programs about the people, places, outdoor activities and environmental issues of the Pacific Northwest. A fifth generation Oregon native, Grant’s roots run deepest in the central Oregon region near Prineville and Redmond where his family continues to live.

Flag as Incorrect

Is any of the information on this page incorrect?

Share your thoughts Comments

Have something to say? Your Comment

  1. Brook Cunningham says…

    Well, Washington born and raised,,on my way to Oregon to live Oct. 20th. Whew,,so close and yet so far away,,,,thank goodness that there are people out there, such as yourself, to let us know what is going on!!!! Thanks

    Written on October 7th, 2011 / Flag this Comment
  2. Michael says…


    Thanks for the article, I really enjoyed it. How rough does the water get in Nehalem estuary? Do think launching a canoe would be wise?


    Written on October 9th, 2011 / Flag this Comment
  3. James Wellington says…

    It’s great to see recovery efforts paying off. Thanks for the article.

    Written on October 9th, 2011 / Flag this Comment
  4. Michael says…

    These areas are now or going to close. To bad!
    2011 Wild Coastal Coho
    Current Closures
    Alsea, closes end of day Oct. 10
    Coquille, closes end of day Oct. 11
    Nestucca, closed end of day Oct. 9
    Siuslaw, closed end of day Oct. 9
    Tillamook, closed end of day Oct. 5
    Umpqua River, closed end of day Oct. 1
    Yaquina, closed end of day Oct. 9

    Written on October 10th, 2011 / Flag this Comment
  5. Aaron says…

    Thanks Grant for an awesome episode. Saw it on Oct. 9th after limiting out on wild chinook earlier that day in another Oregon coastal river inlet. The recipes and respect for the fish are great, and I made the Salmon chowder the next day. Yes, many wild seasons are have shut down for the fall runs this year, but because of this, we can have a chance next year.

    Thanks again,

    Written on October 14th, 2011 / Flag this Comment
  6. David Mills says…

    This segment has a deep and real significance to me. This segment featured me, my Dad and my oldest son fishing together. My Dad and I have fished the streams of Tillamook county for over 20 years together. This last year my Dad was diagnosed with a terminal illness and I believe that this may have been our last fishing trip together. It was a magical day and one that I will never forget and, thanks to Grant McOmie and a few friends, I now have a permanent and lasting record of this wonderful day on the Nehalem.

    Thank you to all who made this day possible.

    Written on October 17th, 2011 / Flag this Comment
  7. D Schamp says…

    Wow…well done! Great story and tribute to two important pieces of our heritage that are endangered – wild coho salmon and family ties. Too many of today’s youngsters have never had the opportunity to experience Oregon’s outdoor treasures let alone enjoy spending a day fishing with their dad and grandpa. It thrills my heart to see that there is hope both will recover. Eldon Mills is one of the greatest guys I have ever met, and its no surprise that he, his son and grandson would be the focus of a story like this.

    Its also no surprise that Grant and “Fireman John” would have a hand in documenting and presenting these important life stories. Beautiful job guys!


    Written on November 20th, 2011 / Flag this Comment
Win a Pendleton Blanket


Subscribe to the Travel Oregon email newsletter and be entered to win a commemorative Crater Lake Pendleton Blanket.

Click here for terms and conditions.

You're almost there!
Click the link in the email we just sent you to confirm your subscription.

Hmm, something went wrong, please try later.