The Umpqua River is comprised of several small streams and tributaries, but it's main sources are the North Umpqua and South Umpqua Rivers. The North and South Umpqua Rivers join together six miles northwest of Roseburg to form the Main Umpqua. This area, known as the Umpqua Valley provides many recreation opportunities including fishing and is widely known throughout the United States and even overseas.
The North Umpqua is approximately 106 miles in length and flows through deep, rugged canyons and forests. It is known for its emerald green waters, scenic beauty and fly fishing in the upper part of the river. It has been considered one of the best fly fishing streams in the Pacific Northwest.
As the river flows west through the Cascade Mountains, it picks up the flows from several small streams and tributaries along the way. In the sleepy little town of Glide, it meets with its largest tributary, Little River from the south, in a confluence known as Colliding Rivers. From here it continues into the city of Roseburg where it meets with the South Umpqua.
The North Umpqua has been known as a world-class steelhead fishery with its beautiful green waters and even temperature flows. Because the river source is high in the Cascades, it receives a continuous flow of cool, clean water all year round from snow melt. Whereas the South Umpqua flow drops significantly during the summer months, the North Umpqua continues to flow at levels as high as 20 times that of the South Umpqua.
A 33.8 mile stretch of the North Umpqua was designated in 1988 to fly fishing only. This portion of the river finds fishermen frequently wading into the waters during the spring and summer months to catch salmon, steelhead and trout.
The lower portion of the river, beginning in an area known as Swift Water Park, west to the confluence of the North and South Umpqua, is fished for steelhead in the winter and spring months and salmon in the summer and fall. The North Umpqua also hosts many whitewater rafters and kayakers throughout the summer months. The North Umpqua Trail, while divided into several shorter hikes, is a total of 79 miles long and runs along the banks of the North Umpqua River. It is accessible by foot, bike and horseback.
The South Umpqua is approximately 115 mile in length and drains a portion of the Cascade Range southeast of Roseburg. The river begins in a remote canyon area with no access, running southwest where it eventually emerges in the South Umpqua Valley near Canyonville. From Canyonville the South Umpqua flows in a northward path along Interstate 5 into Roseburg where it joins the North Umpqua to for the Main Umpqua River.
Although several tributaries feed the South Umpqua, Cow Creek is the main tributary for the South. The two rivers flow parallel to one another on their journey through the Cascades with an east-west mountain range separating the two. Where the South Umpqua heads north, Cow Creek continues west for a few miles before heading north and joining the South Umpqua river in Tri city.
Due to low river levels in the summer, the South Umpqua is mainly known for its winter steelhead and bass fishing. Winter steelhead usually make their runs from December through February while bass fishing on the south is phenomenal from May through August.
Starting at River Forks, where the North and South Umpqua Rivers combine, the Umpqua River makes a 111 mile trek in a northwest direction where it empties into the Pacific Ocean. The Umpqua flows through the beautiful Umpqua Valley where it passes farm lands and wineries. Along its winding journey, it flows through many small, historic towns such as Elkton, Wells Creek and Scottsburg.
Scottsburg is located at the head of the Umpqua's tidal waters and offers several areas to launch boats or fish from the banks for salmon, steelhead and sturgeon.
The waters of the Main Umpqua, starting near Roseburg are prime fishing waters year round for everything from small mouth bass to the giant sturgeon. Salmon fishing is good on the Umpqua from March through mid-June for spring Chinook and picks up again in mid to late July for fall Chinook. The fall Chinook run generally begins to subside in November. Steelhead can be fished year round in the Main Umpqua River and provides a good fishery for these beautiful fish.
The upper river, from Roseburg to Elkton provides the best areas for bass and shad. Fishing is usually best between the months of May and September for small mouth bass and April through mid-June for shad.
While Sturgeon fishing is best between the months of February and April, when rivers are high, they can be fished all year round. Sturgeon can be found in the Umpqua from Scottsburg to Winchester Bay.
Between Reedsport and Winchester Bay, fishing is good for salmon, sturgeon, surf perch and crab. Surf perch has a very brief window for fishing, but if you enjoy a fast paced, never bored, fish on the line all the time fishery, they are great fun! The season runs between the beginning of June and mid-July. Crabbing in Winchester bay can be done year round, but usually produces better crab during the months of July through February.