Wilson River Fishing
The Wilson River's easy bank access is one reason why it's a favorite salmon, steelhead, and trout fishing destination.
Sollie Smith Bridge, just east of Tillamook, is considered to be the head of the tidewater on the Wilson River and offers a large holding pool with limited access. Along the south, or parking lot, side of the river anglers can find a number of spots that will allow them to perch on a rock or a tree stump while they drift bobber and bait combinations or drift fish the hole.
While catching fish in this hole isn't particularly difficult, landing them can be. The bank is steep and brushy, so it helps to have a fishing partner and a long-handled net if you want to get your catch into the cooler for the ride home.
Josi Hole, north of the highway on Olsen Road, offers two distinctly different types of water. A pay-for-access hole, the lower end, below the riffle, starts with a deep holding pool at the upper end near an island and tapers off into relatively shallow water 100 feet downstream.
The upper drift at Josi's starts with deep, slow-moving water on a bend in the river and moves downstream towards the island marking the boundary with the lower drift.
The entire upper hole is deep and hugs the south bank, the side anglers pay to gain access to. While this deep, bank-hugging run can be drift fished, it is most commonly, and successfully, fished with bobber and bait combinations.
Approximately a mile east of Olsen Road is Donaldson Lane. Turning north and following the lane ? and paying the fee at the gate ? will bring you to Donaldson's Drift. Until the big flood of 1997 Donaldson's doubled as both a good bank fishing location and boat slide.
Unfortunately the river shifted and filled as a result of the flood and the boat put-in, for all intents and purposes, disappeared. It remains, however, a good bank fishing hole. The run is along the opposite (north) side of the river and is best fished with drift gear, spinners, spoons and even flies.
Just a half-mile east of Donaldson Lane is a large turn-out on the north side of the highway. From here an angler can walk down the bank to a series of relatively slow but very deep pools bordered by good riffles at both the upstream and downstream ends. The deepest section is most commonly fished with bobbers and bait while the upper and lower drifts are good drift fishing water.
Near mile six, just behind The Guide Shop, is Mills Creek. The long run from Mills Creek to the big, deep hole right below the Guide Shop, is an excellent stretch of salmon water. Normally running 6 to 8 feet deep, the slot is narrow and confined on the opposite bank by a high, sheer rock wall.
Just downstream from the Mills Creek slot is a very deep, easily accessed hole directly below the Guide Shop. This is a very popular spot and anglers wanting a choice position need to arrive well before first light to stake out their territory. While this hole can be drift fished it is very snaggy on the bottom and you'll lose a lot of gear. Most who fish it do so with bobbers and bait.
The lower end of this hole, along the south bank, is often overlooked and underfished. It offers slightly less deep water but is broken by a number of large rocks creating good holding water. This piece of river can be very productive, especially if there is a lot of pressure in the big hole and along the Mills Creek run. Under high pressure in the upper hole and run, fish will commonly drop down into this lower stretch to avoid anglers.
Just above the bridge over the Wilson near the Guide Shop, on the north side of the river is a pull-out and dirt road down to the river. Although it offers very limited access, this small stretch of river provides good water, in-stream boulders creating resting spots for salmon, and is often overlooked by anglers.
At mile marker eight there is a public boat ramp, Siskeyville Slide. The ramp area, behind a small hill opposite a large tree farm, offers bank anglers about 100 yards of good salmon fishing water.
Just upstream from Alice's Restaurant and clustered in less than a mile of river are Vanderzanden (or Herd Hole), Yergen and Zig Zag holes.
Vanderzanden is located at a barely improved boat slide that's recessed below highway level, on the south side of Highway 6, amongst a large stand of alder trees and provides about a quarter-mile of access up and downstream of a good salmon hole.
Yergen is accessed from a small turn-out about mile marker 13.5. The trail down to the river starts nearly 100 yards downstream from where you park and provides access to a great, and very popular, salmon hole.
The public area at Zig Zag begins almost exactly opposite Zig Zag Creek and offers about 900 feet of access including two good holding holes. Because of the brushy bank this area is commonly fished with bobber and bait.
The bridge at Kansas Creek ? easily seen from the highway ? marks nearly three-quarters of a mile of access on the south bank of the river and just under a half-mile on the north.
There is also an excellent hole right under the bridge. Just upstream from Kansas Creek is a small county park. The stretch of river contained within the park is commonly known as Boy Scout Hole while others refer to it as Demolay Camp Hole. It offers some rough water but a good salmon hole. Be very careful wading here as the water can be very treacherous.
One of the most productive pieces of the middle river is known as the Big Narrows. The river runs for nearly a mile through a narrow, high-sided rock gorge that contains a number of deep pools.
There is a trail from the turnout just upstream from mile marker 14 that will take you right into the Narrows. Because anglers are forced by the sheer walls of the gorge to fish from rock ledges above the river, this is another spot where a long-handled net is advisable.
And, again because of the terrain, it is almost impossible to fish this stretch with anything other than bobber and bait. Timed right, though, this can be one of the best producing stretches of the entire river.
Each of the several creeks that feed the main river between the Narrows and Lee's Camp offer good holding water just below the creek mouths.
It is important to read the regulations however as which creeks can be fished and when they are open changes almost every year.
Two prominent exceptions to this are the areas around both Jordan Creek and Jones Creek.
Although while fishing Jordan Creek you will need to limit your fishing to the area below the bridge, this area offers a couple of good holes and a really nice, relatively deep riffle.
Especially if the fish are moving after a heavy rain has brought the river up, this riffle offers exciting fishing to drift gear and hardware slingers as water levels drop.
For all practical purposes salmon angling opportunities dwindle drastically above Jones Creek. While there are limited public access areas, especially on the big bend near mile 27, much of the river upstream from Jones Creek is bordered by private property.
The big hole under the Jones Creek bridge offers the best of the last of the good public access fishing on the river. The main hole is best fished with bobber and bait or spinners while the lower end of the pool is good drift fishing water.
Although Jones Creek Campground has been closed for some time, there is camping available at Diamond Mill (cross the river, turn right at the first road and Diamond Mill Campground is about 3 miles down the road ? you can't miss it) and plenty of parking on the edge of the road.
Pay attention to the "No Parking" sign, however, as you will be ticketed if caught parking on the paved section of the road leading into the bridge.