The Oregon Dept of Fish and Wildlife says the steelhead released in 2012 are returning this year. Below is an excerpt from their 2014 Winter Steelhead Guide for the Alsea River Basin. "Blackberry Park" refers to the Forest Service Blackberry Campground on the Alsea River which is open year-round.
"The Alsea Basin provides good fishing opportunities for hatchery winter steelhead from
December into March. The target release of 120,000 smolts into the Alsea are split between
the traditional Alsea hatchery broodstock and wild Alsea broodstock.
This winter, the Alsea Basin will be the focus of a steelhead “harvest vulnerability” study.
This study will help determine potential hatchery production and release strategies that will
maximize angler harvest and minimize excessive straying.
The data from this study will be used to test for a difference in catchability or “harvest
vulnerability” of steelhead produced from wild parents that were harvested by anglers vs.
steelhead produced from wild parents that returned to the hatchery. Harvest will be
evaluated with a statistical creel survey, conducted by ODFW surveyors and straying will be
assessed by monitoring adult collection sites in the basin. Anglers wishing to participate in
the program by contributing wild-caught fish for broodstock to the Alsea hatchery are
encouraged to coordinate with the hatchery (Matt Frank, 541-487-7240). Additional
information is available by contacting staff at the Mid-Coast District office of ODFW (Derek
Wilson, 541-265-8306, ext. 236).
The 2012 release of winter steelhead smolts was the second year of a new release point
down river. Approximately 40,000 smolts of the traditional hatchery stocks were released
near Blackberry Park. This release group will return this winter and should hold up in the
lower river longer than in fish in previous years.
Fair to good bank access can be found throughout most of the basin at numerous public
pull-offs and parks along the river. During high water, bank anglers should focus their
efforts in the upper basin and around the Alsea Hatchery. A parking lot just below the
hatchery provides anglers with off-road parking and access to the river. Most river access
near the hatchery is on private property, which is clearly posted.
The Alsea contains a lot of bedrock shelves and deep slots that make side drifting difficult.
Popular tactics include pulling plugs or divers with bait, drifting bobbers with bait or jigs,
and swinging spoons across riffles.
Drift boats can be put in at launches from just downstream of the town of Alsea all the way
to the head of tidewater, depending on the time of year and river conditions. Fishing from a
floating device is prohibited above Mill Creek. Throughout the season a portion of hatchery
steelhead captured at the Alsea hatchery traps are recycled downstream as far as the
Blackberry Launch to provide additional fishing opportunity."