The flowering cherry trees that line Portland’s Tom McCall Waterfront Park are in full bloom. To many, that is a sign that spring has come to Portland. The Spring Chinook Salmon, known as Springers, are arriving as well. These local favorites are stunning, in color, texture, and taste. If you’re looking to fire up the grill or smoker at home, why not experience a day on the river with your friends and family beforehand? Talk about farm (or river) to table freshness!
Fishing conditions on the Willamette and Multnomah Channel in March were good and the early catches of Spring Chinook reflected that. As we’ve moved into April and fishing on the Columbia has picked up, I don’t think anyone is complaining about the fishing. We’ve been given a big helping hand this year by the low flows which has allowed us to fish most effectively. We’ve had recent years where flows have hovered around 350,000 to 400,00 cfs coming out of Bonneville and those are far more difficult conditions. Flow out of Bonneville dam the first few days of April hovered between 140,000 and 190,000 cfs, so clearly we’ve had it pretty good.
The best fishing has been the last 3 hours of the incoming tide. Most of the fish we have been catching have been in 25-45 ft of water on the incoming tide, and 15-25 ft of water on the outgoing tide. Big rains the last few days are obviously going to change things for the last few days of the lower Columbia season as we’ll see flow rates increase pretty significantly. Expect to be fishing tighter to the shore and in those places long time fishermen will know, out of the current where it’s a little easier for Springers to navigate.
April and May should be good fishing months, but of course the areas we fish and conditions are going to change 3x’s over before we hit June. Our focus will shift to the Channel, the Willamette and by the end of the month, Drano and The Wind. The nice snowpack we have should keep the rivers from warming up too quickly, but how hot it gets in April and how much rain shows up will be what ultimately drives our temperatures. At a minimum, snowpack should help with flows, but how much so, really depends on how much spill we get out of the Columbia River dams. Too much spill and it backs the Willamette up big time. While this isn’t ideal at moderate levels, I’ve seen some killer fishing as levels approach the top of the boat ramps. Of course, I’m praying for the ladder.
There’s lots of Salmon fishing to do right now. If you’d like to add a little variety, you can always go catch and release Willamette River sturgeon for part of the day. This combo trip is very popular amongst our guests! White sturgeon claim the Willamette and Columbia Rivers as their home year-round, and the months of April and May tend to offer lots of action. Of course it’s your trip, and we want to provide you with the experience you’re looking for.