Sturgeon are present in the Willamette River near Portland Oregon year-round, but in the winter and early spring huge numbers of large sturgeon move into the Willamette, the lower Columbia River’s largest tributary, to feed in its relatively warmer waters.
The number of sturgeon in the lower Willamette begins increasing in October and November, and many stay until the spring. The best-known types – white sturgeon, trophy sturgeon and keeper sturgeon – can all be found in the Willamette River.
The Willamette flows into the Columbia River, allowing easy migration of sturgeon between the Columbia and Willamette waters. The combination of abundance of food and relatively warmer water temperatures make this area a favorite destination for sturgeon to spend their winter and spring months.
Consequently, the best sturgeon fishing on the Willamette River is during the fall months through early spring from below the Willamette Falls to near Portland, Oregon. The lowest part of the Willamette is a very popular for sturgeon fishing because it holds a large number of sturgeon during those months.
As summer approaches from April to June, sturgeon move out of the lower Willamette into the Columbia River, where the shad population is beginning their spawning runs to the Bonneville Dam. At the same time, others swim downstream to the Columbia River estuary to forage for small fish, anchovies and crustaceans. In a similar time-frame, late spring to summer, Spring Chinook begin entering the lower Willamette area. As this section of the river is busy with large ship travel during these months, fishing boats must be careful to avoid them.
Year-round sturgeon fishing means being willing to move your location on the river, because sturgeon are migratory fish that swim up and down the river looking for the best conditions and sources of food. “Columbia River Fishing Adventures can find sturgeon any time of the year,” says its owner and guide Buddy Dupell, “Even if we have to travel a bit to do it.”
Buddy has spent decades fishing for sturgeon, salmon, steelhead and walleye in Oregon. His experience and knowledge of its waters means he knows when to switch locations to take advantage of changing conditions, like river flows, water levels, weather patterns, and other factors, to create a successful strategy for a memorable fishing venture. Give Buddy a call at (503) 409-3099 with your questions, or to book an exciting fishing experience on Oregon’s world-renowned Willamette River.