The Columbia River is one of the great sport fishing rivers in the world. From the mouth of the river at Astoria, Oregon and Ilwaco, Washington to the Hanford Reach, meaningful fishing for Salmon, steelhead and Sturgeon exists year around. I concentrate my efforts seasonally in the 160 miles of river, from The Dalles, through Portland, to the estuary in the Astoria/Ilwaco areas. If you need a referral to a guide in another section of the river however, I’d be happy to help.
Columbia River Salmon fishing is without a question the biggest angling attraction on the Columbia River. Thousands of angling days are spent targeting the 5 runs of Salmon that call the Columbia River home. Three runs of Chinook Salmon, a run of Sockeye and a run of Coho/Silver Salmon provide anglers with plenty of Salmon fishing action throughout the calendar year. Seasons for these fisheries are typically agreed upon in January, but because of still healthy stocks, seasons remain fairly predictable.
Spring Chinook Salmon fishing starts in March and is, for Salmon aficionados, the best tasting of any Salmon in the world. These fish are prized at great restaurants around the country and often times go for in excess of $30/pound in our local stores. Fortunately for us, we like to catch them ourselves and do a pretty good job of doing just that.
For more on my guided Spring Salmon trips, visit my Columbia River Spring Chinook Salmon Fishing page.
You might also check out my Spring Chinook Salmon fishing opportunities on Oregon’s Willamette River. When the Columbia River closes, this is where we fish.
Summer Chinook Salmon fishing, a.k.a. the “June Hog” fishery has come on strong since the early 2000’s. Fishermen on the Columbia River went decades without Summer Salmon fishing opportunities and focused efforts to revive the run really paid off. Although not as large a run as it’s Spring Chinook counterpart, the Summer Chinook Salmon fishing now gives us two weeks of good fishing usually running from the middle of June until the first of July. These fish are known for their size and eat very similarly to a Springer. The season also coincides with the warmer weather and the arrival of Columbia River summer steelhead and sockeye, which incidentally tend to bite much of the same gear. Needless to say, this has become a very popular window of opportunity for people to get out on the water.
For more on fishing for June Hogs, visit my Columbia River Summer Chinook Salmon Fishing page.
Columbia River Fall Chinook Salmon fishing kicks off in August with the arrival of fish to the mouth of the river around Astoria and Ilwaco. This “Buoy 10” fishery as many call it, may be the most popular fishery of the year. Hundreds of thousands of Fall Chinook enter the river and provide seasonal opportunity as they migrate up the river to areas like the mouth of the Lewis and Cowlitz Rivers near Longview, Washington, Bonneville Dam, the Klickitat River and finally the Hanford Reach.
I spend the entire month of August in Astoria fishing for Fall Chinook and then Coho/Silver Salmon before moving upriver to the Cowlitz River. From their, I bring my clients to the Klickitat River in Washington where I fish through September into the beginning of October.
To learn more about the Fall Chinook and Coho fishing around Astoria and Ilwaco, visit my Buoy 10 Salmon Fishing page.
Columbia River steelhead fishing just starts getting good in June right about the time that the Summer Salmon and Sockeye fishing is in full swing. Just about every tributary on the Columbia River sees some semblance of a summer steelhead return with major runs existing on the Cowlitz River, Deschutes River, the Willamette River Drainage, John Day, Snake and Upper Columbia River. Targeting summers early on fortunately entails reeling in lots of different species, but as we get into July or catch is dominated by steelhead that are more than ready to take our offerings down. My summer steelhead fishing on the Columbia River focuses from the mouth of the Cowlitz River to Astoria depending on the tides. Tides are a big part of fishing for summer steelhead and although it’s an incredible fishery, I offer trips on days that are conducive to a full day of great steelhead fishing. On the days in July that tides aren’t cooperating, I fish clients on the Cowlitz River around Blue Creek which is where many of the fish that we catch on the Columbia River are headed.
For more information, visit my Columbia River Steelhead Fishing homepage.
If you’re interested in fishing the Cowlitz River around Blue Creek, see my Cowlitz River Summer Steelhead Fishing page.
Columbia River Sturgeon fishing is one of the great attractions for anglers. It’s characterized by naturally propagating fish below Bonneville Dam and long time resident and stocked fish above Bonneville. Sturgeon fishing on the Columbia River is heavily regulated with most of the annual seasons set sometime in January. Catch and release fishing is always available, but if taking fish home is a priority, you’ll need to make sure you’re fishing when you can do so.
Columbia River Sturgeon fishing starts the first of the year and continues right into a spring fishery. Sometime in May or June, many of the fish that were in the Portland area will migrate downstream to the estuary in the Astoria area and provide anglers with some of the best sturgeon fishing of the year.
The estuary Sturgeon fishing in Astoria has over the years been one of the major fisheries in the calendar year for NW residents. Keeper fish to 60 pounds and oversize fish to 125 pounds can provide both quantity and quality that I’m not sure exists anyplace else. As a result, fishermen from around the country have also learned of the opportunity and as a result fishermen from all over come to the estuary in Astoria to experience this unique fishery.
If you’re interested in fishing the estuary in and around Astoria and Ilwaco, please visit my Astoria, estuary sturgeon fishing page for more information.
For more how to’s, maps, news and other valuable information, visit my Columbia River Fishing Guide.
For any questions you might have, or to simply book a trip, email me, or call (503) 680-6809.