Where is the Best Fishing on the Columbia River?

November 11, 2022

Fishing in Portland, Oregon

If you’re looking to catch yourself a delicious salmon, head to the Portland area in either spring, summer, or fall. During all 3 seasons, the Columbia waters are teeming with Chinook salmon. These prize fish are both the largest and the most valuable variety of Pacific salmon in North America. Buying one at your local store or a restaurant can get pretty pricey, so why not get out there and try your hand at landing one yourself?

Spring Chinook Salmon Run

The spring Chinook salmon season typically begins in March and lasts through May on the Columbia River. If you’re fishing below the Bonneville Dam, you should be able to catch spring Chinook through April. The stretch of river between St. Helens and Tongue Point, however, is one of the most popular areas, with specimens sometimes appearing in the waters as early as February.

Summer Chinook Salmon Run

The summer Chinook salmon season is usually much shorter than the spring run, only lasting about two weeks. These fish are commonly referred to as “June hogs” due to both their impressive size. Summer fishing is a popular time on the Columbia River, so we advise booking your trip early, especially if you plan to fish during prime time weekend slots.

Like the spring Chinook, you can find summer Chinook salmon between St. Helens and Tongue Point. Your fishing guide will know where the best fishing is to be had.

Fall Chinook Salmon Run

The fall Chinook salmon season runs between August and October. The Buoy 10 estuary is a great source of fall Chinook, although the season doesn’t last as long as in other areas of the river. To catch your share of fall Chinook in late August to September, head once again to Bonneville Dam for specimens ranging between 20 and 40 pounds.

Sturgeon

If you’re interested in other varieties of prize fish in the Portland area, you may want to try your hand at fishing for sturgeon. You can catch and release sturgeon year-round on the Columbia River. The catch-and-keep season is often very short, depending on fishery management, but a popular opening as sturgeon can be great eating, tasty fish. Particularly during a feeding frenzy, sturgeon can be thrilling to catch, with some specimens even exceeding 10 feet in length.

The Rufus Oregon Fishery

To catch walleye, explore the river in and around Rufus, Oregon. Trophy-size walleye, also known as yellow pike, are plentiful in the area of Rufus Oregon. Some specimens have even been reported upward of 30 inches and 20 pounds! Many seasoned anglers consider these freshwater fish to be one of the most mouthwatering varieties in the U.S.

The walleye population at the Rufush fishery is plentiful. In fact, when fishing downstream of Rufus past Biggs Junction and Miller Island, you should expect to wrangle multiple fish in one day. Coming back home with a heap of these delicious fish is a satisfying feeling, especially when you manage to bring in a few larger specimens as well.

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