Yesterday ODFW announced the 2021 Columbia River Summer/Fall Salmon and Steelhead seasons. This is a joint effort with WDFW and takes some coordination each year. Increased numbers on this year’s fall salmon forecast are giving us a summer salmon season, a longer fall salmon season throughout the Columbia River, and a 3 fish bag limit in Astoria during the fall Coho season! We’ve been waiting for this announcement and now it’s official, so here we go.
We target Columbia River Fall Salmon before they even enter the river. Fall Chinook and Coho stage in the Pacific Ocean near Astoria to bulk up and wait for the perfect time to run the river. This year the ocean opens up on June 19th and we’ll be out fishing the ocean before moving into the river with the fish.
The official start of the Columbia River Fall Salmon season takes place in Astoria, at the well-known Buoy 10 Salmon fishery. Opening day this year is August 1st, and we’ll be chasing Chinook and Coho Salmon through September 6th, which gives us several additional weeks of Chinook fishing than we’ve had in recent years. After that, it becomes a Coho Salmon show for the remainder of the Buoy 10 season, which will run through September and possibly longer. Combine our favorite fishery with what is usually the best weather of the year, and Astoria is the place to be for fishing, dining, and sightseeing during the Buoy 10 salmon season.
The Columbia River in the Portland area will be open for Chinook and Hatchery Coho Salmon retention from August 1st through October 31st. With all of the prime fishing action taking place at Buoy 10 in Astoria we probably won’t be fishing this area until after September 6th. If you’re looking for a weekend fishing trip, this might be the perfect option.
The Columbia River above Bonneville Dam opens for Chinook and Coho Salmon fishing on August 1st. The river will be open for salmon retention from its mouth in Astoria up to the Oregon/Washington border through October 31st. We follow the fish as they move, and this latter part of the fall salmon season typically finds us hover fishing in the stretches of river between the dams, often near the mouth of the Klickitat or Deschutes River. If you’re new to hover fishing, it’s pretty incredible. Imagine bobber fishing except the boat is the bobber. That’s one big bobber! It takes a skilled fishing guide to keep the boat right where it needs to be. This area of the gorge isn’t just known for its fishing, there are some beautiful sights to see, including Multnomah Falls and all of the changing fall colors.
The Columbia River opens for Summer Salmon, in addition to ongoing Steelhead, retention on June 1st. This year we’re allowed to retain Chinook salmon as well as Sockeye and hatchery Steelhead. Below Bonneville Dam the season runs through July 5th, while above the dam we can fish through July 31st. Summer salmon/steelhead combo trips can provide an action-packed day on the water. If you want to change things up even more, we can add some catch and release sturgeon fishing to the day. The sturgeon are navigating their way toward the Columbia River Estuary in Astoria during June and July, which can make for some epic battles. No matter what you want to fish for, the Columbia River is the place to be for summer salmon and steelhead.
We understand the concerns regarding coronavirus and the Columbia River Salmon seasons. Rest assured that our boats and gear will be clean as usual. Hand sanitizer and disposable gloves will be available. Whether or not masks are required will depend on local regulations as well as your own personal comfort level. Just know that if you prefer masks, we’ll have masks on. Feel free to ask us questions when you’re booking your trip or at any other time. Our number one goal is to provide you with the fishing experience that you’re looking for.