Winchuck River

Winchuck RiverThe Winchuck River flows into the Pacific Ocean about 0.5 miles north of the Oregon and California border and approximately five miles south of Brookings, Oregon. The Winchuck Watershed is approximately 45,624 acres. The South Fork of the Winchuck and most of its subwatershed is in the state of California, while the rest of the Winchuck River Watershed is located in Curry County, Oregon. Mt. Emily, at 2,926 feet, is the highest point in the basin.

Five major tributaries--Wheeler Creek, East Fork, Fourth of July Creek, Bear Creek and South Fork--make up the Winchuck River system.

For its size, the Winchuck watershed is an outstanding producer of four highly-valued anadromous salmonid fish. Coho salmon are listed as Threatened and are mostly confined to the South Fork. Fall Chinook are proposed as Threatened and spawn throughout the basin on the extensive low-gradient, gravel-rich stream reaches. Anadromous cutthroat trout occur in high densities, especially in Wheeler Creek. It is closed to fishing above the Wheeler Creek confluence to provide a refuge for wild fish, but there are some excellent steelhead waters below this point, including several miles on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.  The river fishery in the Winchuck is relatively small, due not only to the smaller size of the runs, but also to restricted access in the lower river. Standard winter steelhead tactics such as drift fishing, floating jigs, or swinging flies work well on this gravel and cobble bottomed river. Flies such as spruce flies or bucktail streamers work well for sea-run cutthroat. Private property lines both banks and angling from a floating device is prohibited.

Sensitive wildlife species are present in the watershed and include the northern spotted owl and the marbled murrelet. There are also several stands of coast redwood (totalling approximately 12,300 acres) in the watershed.

At a Glance

Closest Towns:
  • Brookings, OR
  • Crescent City, CA

General Information


From Medford, take I-5 North to exit 55 US-199/Redwood Hwy. Merge onto US-101/ Redwood Hwy towards Crescent City. Near Jedediah-Smith Park, take the Hwy 197 North junction towards Brookings and proceed north on US-101, which crosses the Winchuck River just north of the Oregon border. Take a right on County Road 896, which turns into Forest Service road 1107 after about 5 miles.


Campground Camping

River and Stream Fishing

  • Fish Species: Fall Chinook salmon, winter steelhead, sea-run and resident cutthroat trout
  • Fishing Access: 2 X 4
  • Fishing Methods: Fly, lure and *bait.
  • Angling Season:
    • Steelhead: January 1 through March 31 and May 27 through December 31
    • Chinook salmon:  Open May 27 through December 31
    • Trout: May 27 through October 31
  • Depth and Size: N/A-? miles

Fishing License

Oregon state fishing license required. See Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife for more information.

*Bait is only allowed for salmon and steelhead fishing and not allowed for trout fishing.


Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities