A relatively short coastal stream flowing about 30 miles westward from its upper reaches in Siskiyou National Forest to the Ocean at Cape Blanco, the Sixes River is popular for big late-run Fall Chinook and Winter Steelhead. Like its sister river the Elk, the Sixes is located very close to Port Orford where it helps diversify the local fishing choices. After high water events, the Sixes tends to stay murky longer, thereby offering a great alternative fishing option once the Elk River has dropped into a low and clear condition.
In early October, high tides and brief periods of heavy rain will pull the Fall Kings into the lowest holes between Hwy 101 and the Ocean. The fish can get kegged up in these deep holes waiting for more rain to raise the river level enough to allow fish further access upriver to spawning grounds. Tossing spinners, float fishing baits, and stripping in heavily weighted flies can all produce catches as the fish wait to move on up the river. Once regular rains arrive in themonths of November and December, drift boat fishing from Edson Creek Park all the way down to the Cape Blanco Park boat launch becomes the prevailing fishing method. Due to heavy logging in the upper drainage however, muddy water conditions following big rains can dirty up the river enough to prevent decent fishing for weeks on end. Wild Winter Steelhead begin to show up around mid-December and continue to arrive through March. Fishing for Chinook salmon is permitted from Edson Creek on down to the mouth, while steelhead fishing is allowed much further upriver.
While the neighboring Elk River tends to run swift and shallow, the Sixes has a slightly different feel to it, as it eases around large bends, meandering past lower river cattle ranches on down through Cape Blanco State Park. In contrast to the Elk River, though the Sixes river is not planted with any hatchery smolts, it is fairly common to catch stray Elk River hatchery Chinook that mistakenly took a wrong turn into the Sixes River. In low water years, fishing forthese big bright “Hawgs” can hold up through December Due to the relatively large size and super high quality of the Elk River salmon, many fishermen, some traveling great distances, come to Port Orford each year in late fall and winter to catch these amazing tackle-testing fish. The salmon begin to stage near the mouth in late September and early October, moving in and out with each tide while they wait for sufficient rain to result in enough rise in the river level to allow for passage up to spawning grounds. A long shallow area of tidewater along the sandy bluffs at the mouth can make these fish vulnerable and available to fishermen and seals alike sometimes for a month or two before the regular rains set in. By mid-November, the Elk River Chinook fishing is usually in full swing while in most other Oregon rivers salmon fishing has finished up. This can put a lot of attention and consequent fishing pressure on this beautiful little coastal stream during November and December.