Molalla river winter steelhead

I've decided to stay close to home and focus on the nearest river to me, the Molalla. This is a post about the info I've been able to find online and in my books. No idea how accurate it is.

From what I've been able to glean off the internet the run is mostly from Feb through April. I found an article from ODFW that says that about 1/3rd of all steelhead that pass through the Willamette Falls fish counter are destined for the Molalla. Looking at the Feb fish counts that's not as bad a number as I thought it would be, with 3-30 steelhead a day destined for the Molalla.

Granted, going off of the ODFW reported catches only 7 fin clipped fish have been retained in the last 4 years of record keeping (up to 2007). This can be explained by the low pressure and small amount of strays entering the water.

Here are the 2011 regulations for the Molalla-

Open for adipose fin-clipped Chinook salmon and adipose fin-clipped steelhead entire
• Open to harvest of non-adipose fin-clipped steelhead July 1-Aug. 31.
• Use of bait allowed May 15-July 15.
• Open for coho salmon entire year.
• Use of single barbless hooks encouraged.
• No limit on size or number of bass taken.
Pine Creek Bridge seems to be WAY upstream quite a ways east of Silverton. So there is a LOT of available water to fish.

I'm on the market for some sort of flotation device but as of today I'm going to be bank angling. Fishing pressure, while light is mostly concentrated on the lower stretches below Feyer Park due to it being float-able. Bank access seems to be at Molalla River State park at the mouth where it dumps into the Willamette, Wagon Wheel park, and Feyer Park. The upper stretches above Feyer Park seem to be a wilderness with trails and forest roads and sound like good bank access and hiking (which I enjoy).

As of now (Feb) I'm going to target the lower stretches and move up as the run progresses. Does anyone know how far up the steelhead go? Any advice on other bank access lower down? Information on this fishery is sporadic at best but I know we have several members who live near by and fish it.

I also plan on learning how to fly fish on this river once it opens for trout on the upper stretches.

Any and all advice/corrections/feedback is welcome...

There are 3 access point in Canby Knights Bridge, Canby Pond an a small roadside parking an trail down to teh water an the Hwy 170 bridge. I am no expert on steel but back when they stocked it there were a lot of people at Knights Bridge steel fishing. But as of late most people banking it fish the swimming hole just above Wagon Wheel.
Thanks! Maybe I'll go check out around Canby tomorrow. I tried the hole right by the bridge at Wagon Wheel yesterday before I got chased off by hail...looks like a pretty good spot.
Also just below the 99 bridge at the train tressel looks like a good spot.
If you go to Goods Bridge (HWY 170) stay on the West side of the hwy, the homeowner on the east side has put up barriers. The trial on the West side should get you under the bridge and downstream from it a bit, but it doesn't go too far. Don't forget Meadowbrook bridge (HWY 211). Park on the NW side of the bridge and follow the trial upstream on the west side. Remember that the Molalla river is the list of rivers federally determined to be navigable, so hike around with confidence, just stay below the normal high water line. As far as height goes, I feel 13-13.5' is perfect, I caught 15lb hen last week at 13.4' and dropping. Although I managed to catch one this week below 12'. Consider stepping up your gear a bit too, I wouldn't go any lighter than 10lb leader for two reasons. One being that this river is home to some world class fish, fish weighing in the teens are common and 20+ pounders are mixed in there too. Secondly, these are all %100 native fish. Sure a hatchery stray may have spawned a time or two but the native genes are dominant. It's important to land these fish as quickly as possible, and stronger leader or line makes a big difference. Keep them in the water whenever possible, and if not MAKE IT QUICK!
So what am I missing? I went back to read again the winter steelhead guide for the Willamette zone..In the same article it says 1/3 of the winters passing the falls are headed for the Molalla,then farther down it says that 70 to 80 percent are going to the Santiams..


I don't get it...LOL

I am not familiar with the Molalla.It is above the falls right??
The way I figure it 1/3 = .33% so there for 70% or so remain. The Molalla is above the falls, and is the only remaining Willamette tributary without a dam.
2/3 would be 66.3%...70% TO 80% is quite a differance..These people are doing the fish counting???

Sorry ,I just find it amusing is all..LOL
Well, based on a cumulative 2,134 this run for Winters, what's 70-284 fish among friends? :)
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I went out for a few hours this morning. Weather was surprisingly nice. Calm and sunny for the most part though it started to snow when I was leaving. Started off at Knights bridge, saw one other guy fishing and hiked up a ways by the fields and saw a drift boat coming down. Moved up to the Canby pond area and saw a couple people fishing upstream a ways. Tried to go check out the area off of 170 but as you said there were a LOT of no trespassing signs and I couldn't find the trail down to the river. I'll have to go back and look that area over now that I have a bit more info. Last stop was at Wagon Wheel, where I actually caught a 10-12" trout on a large spoon and had a nice strike 3 casts later, probably another trout.

Thanks a lot for the info adambomb, right now it's at 11.75 so a bit low. My leader is 10lb right now. If you want a fishing partner let me know.

I took some crappy photos with my phone, but they won't send to my email.

It says "approximately" 1/3rd and 1/3rd of 2953 is 975 by the if it is 1/3rd of the total fish past the counter that's almost 1k fish in the Molalla. Even if it's just 20%, that's still 600 fish...
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Ah, that's right...we're in February now. LOL! And I was only counting the difference between 66.7 and 70-80% based in Santiam338's statement. In any case, I erroneously only looked up to January for my numbers :)

Using the more recent 2,953, they are now 97-393. So, I think when you're talking 100-400 fish of less than 3,000 total, yeah, that 2/3 OR 70-80 is a decent sized difference. :)
By April,there will be 7000 over..

I hope we didn't hijack,but I have been kinda interested in the Molalla for a while..I fish the Santiam and have wanted to come up and float the Molalla for basicly the same fish...I like the idea of floating the smaller water..

Every time I see the Molalla on here I check it out...Peobably never get up there.but I like to plan...LOL
mark twain said something about different kinds of lies regular lies and "statistics" something like that...................
worse than statistics... catch numbers you hear from fisherman..
ya every other cast eh. ratio proportion ect so on
Went out for an hour and a half this evening above Feryer park. Water looked nice. Say one guy fly fishing with a two handed fly rod, other than that had the place to myself. Nada.
Water was about 6-10" higher than the last time I was there, which was Monday. Color was still pretty good. Was warm and rainy the whole time. Managed to bust a seam in my waders so I got doubly wet.

Started off at Feryer park. Followed the trail up river a ways, fished this stretch with spinners and bobber and jig. Had an interesting bobber down right next to the log, but alas, no fish.
Molalla river winter steelhead


Then moved down to the boat ramp by the bridge. Fished all the eddies and seams I could with the bobber and jig. Photo taken from bridge.

Then went down to Wagonwheel for about 45 min before it got dark. Fished the eddy between the bar and the whitewater, and also the tail of the pool.

Still really have no idea if I'm even targeting good water or not, yesterday marked three months since I caught my first and only steelhead.
That's some of the water I hit at wagon wheel, don' t forget to try just up river from the big pool (swim hole) at wagon wheel. Its just up around the corner, looks to be a little better water than the top of the last picture. It looks a little higher from sunday, I'd say its a few feet or so high to really hit some of the sweet spots. Just my opinion, could be wrong.

That was probably me and the boy growbug. I'm getting him addicted to these winter steel too!!!
I was out from 4pm till dark. Went all the way up to the deadline (first time up past Feryer) and worked down. Color was good. Water was high and fast. Got pretty wet with all the rain and no sign of steelhead. Saw one other guy fishing. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon...

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