Columbia River Spring Chinook Salmon start entering the Columbia River in March. Some of the Columbia River fish are headed clear to Idaho, while others are headed to the many Oregon and Washington tributaries. Regardless of where they are headed, we get a chance at 90% of these fish prior to the run moving beyond our reach. I do all of my guided Columbia River Spring Salmon fishing within 45 minutes of Portland.
The Willamette River hosts three Salmon runs. Fall Chinook Salmon return in August and September. Coho/Silver Salmon return September and October. Spring Chinook Salmon return March through May.
The Willamette River receives about one quarter of the Columbia River Basin’s Spring Chinook run. I do all my fishing below Oregon City falls in the 5 miles of river directly below this natural barrier. I run full day trips from 6am until 2:30pm and then an afternoon trip from 3:00pm until dark. This is a unique fishery in that on any given day we may employ 4-5 different techniques with 4 different types of bait. For those from the Portland/Metro area this fishery provides the best “close to home” fishing of the year. For those outside the area, we have accommodations 100 yards from the dock.
The Tillamook Bay Spring Chinook run starts in the middle of May and runs through June. These fish are typically much larger than their Columbia River cousins, and therefore very attractive. Because tides are very important for this fishery, and there are only so many good tides in a season, space for these trips is limited.
Spring Chinook will move their way through their coastal bays and will eventually arrive in their home rivers. Both the Trask River that dumps into Tillamook Bay and the Nestucca River a little further south see good numbers of Spring Chinook. Bobber fishing and back bouncing eggs are the methods of choice out of my 17’ Willie driftboat.
These fish are descendants of the legendary June Hogs. These fish provide anglers with a fantastic meat, similar in quality to a Spring Chinook. The attraction is that their average size is significantly bigger. Seasons for these fish are typically set in Spring, so call for availability.
This fishery gets going early and is our first stop of the Fall Salmon fishing calendar. Coho, Chinook, great facilities and half the crowds of many of our North Coast fisheries. Catch limits are also good compared to some of the other fisheries that we enjoy.
This is the largest series of runs the Columbia has to offer. Chinook begin entering the river at the beginning of August and the Coho/Silvers are right on their tails. This is a very popular fishery and rightfully so. Buoy 10 is legendary for it’s action with double hook ups being fairly regular occurances. Book early, dates go quickly.
More big Columbia River Chinook get caught than any other fishery combined. Wobblers fished between 30 and 50 feet is the tactic of choice on the outgoing tide. On the incoming, we’ll either troll wobblers or herring as fish suspend. This is a fun fishery for all, with the fishing and weather generally being good this time of year. My upriver bright trips are all run within 30 minutes of Portland.
Bonneville Dam is a great place to ambush the Columbia River Fall Chinook run. There are several native runs that return to this area, not to mention the thousands on their way to the Snake River in Idaho. We back troll bait wrapped Kwikfish in this area and typically enjoy great fishing and scenery.
Beautiful surrounds and ground zero for some pretty incredible fishing. One trip to the Klickitat will have you coming back again and again.
Chinook and Coho begin entering the Cowlitz in early September. This is a fun fishery for those that like to fish eggs. We will back bounce, hover fish and cast plugs for these fish. They’re good biters and the meat is still in good shape.
Tillamook Bay is fed by five Salmon producing rivers, making it one of the best Fall Chinook options in the Northwest. Chinook begin entering the bay in September and by October fishing is in full swing. We fish herring in the lower bay and ocean. The upper bay is primarily a Spinner fishing show. These fish are known for their size and are great biters. As an added bonus, we will also soak crab pots, providing anglers with a nice smorgasbord at the end of the day.
The Nestucca is legendary for its Fall Chinook. A good day on this river will live with you for the rest of your life.
The Wilson is probably the single greatest Salmon river in all of the NW. Big fish, plenty of them, and a run that goes clear through December.
The best tidewater fishery on the North Coast. This baby packs a big punch for its size and is one of the first rivers to clear after the first few rains. The top 5 largest fish landed in my boats have all come out of the Trask.
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