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Willamette River Spring Chinook Salmon Fishing

A fresh caught Willamette River Spring Chinook Salmon

Update: 2024 Portland Spring Chinook Salmon Fishing

Springer time has arrived in Portland. Based on the 2024 preseason forecast for Willamette River Spring Chinook salmon fishing we’re looking at an increase in the number of fish heading for the Willamette River from last year’s actual return, with about 50,000 fish expected. That means about 1/4 of all of the Spring Chinook that enter the Columbia River will be heading into the Willamette! You can check out all of the numbers on the ODFW page. I’m already dreaming of sunny spring days spent on the Willamette.

Let us know if you have any questions or would like to get a trip on the books. It’s not too early to plan your trip.

Update: Two Rods Will Be Allowed on Lower Willamette River

Beginning March 1st, 2024, anglers with a Two-Rod Validation will be able to fish for Spring Chinook salmon with two rods on the Willamette River, downstream of Willamette Falls, including the Multnomah Channel. On May 1st, 2 rods will be allowed on the entire river. We do all of our springer fishing below the falls, and we’re happy to work with you if you have plans to fish two rods.

Willamette River Spring Chinook

Willamette River Spring Chinook, along with their friends from the Columbia River, are arguably the finest tasting of all Salmon. Spring Chinook begin entering the Willamette in decent numbers in March. The run’s duration is very water temperature related, as some years we’re done fishing in early May and still others we’re fishing into June. I typically start fishing the Willamette just after the typical closure on the Columbia, which is generally the first week of April. For more on the Columbia, visit my Columbia River Spring Chinook page.

willamette river salmon fishing caught with guide Lance Fisher

During the early part of the run I focus much of my attention between Milwaukie and Downtown Portland. Early arriving Spring Chinook tend to hold up in this area and it’s a very relaxing area to fish. Much of the fishing I do in this area is with Herring or Prawns. We’ll do a combination of techniques ranging from trolling to bouncing.

The Willamette River in this section is littered with pinnacles and shelves. Salmon, for whatever reason, enjoy these humps that exist through the middle Willamette and we spend our days hopscotching from spot to spot.

willamette river spring chinook salmon fishing limit with guide Lance Fisher

At some point during the middle of April, Spring Chinook will turn the corner in Milwaukie and we’ll find ourselves fishing from Lake Oswego to Oregon City. The change in location is probably inspired a bit by time of year and mostly by water temperature. As temperatures rise, Springers will draw closer to the falls in Oregon City. This area is known for its egg bite, but we’ll also fish prawns and plugs as well.

How long the run lasts is largely dependent on how slowly or quickly water temperatures rise. On some years we’ll clobber the Salmon well into June and on other years fishing winds up in May. Regardless, this is a very popular fishery and one that I’ve had clients returning to for many years.

a spring chinook salmon caught on the willamette near portland

For Willamette River Spring Chinook Salmon Fishing, I offer both day and evening trips for my clients. Day trips start between 6 and 7 in the morning and run until 2-3pm. Evening trips start between 2:30-3:30pm and run four hours.

To those that live in the Portland/Metro area and Salem, this is a great fishery, close to home. For those coming in from out of town, you might want to check out my Willamette River Fishing: Places to Stay page.

For more information or to book a trip, call me or contact me.

Looking to fish for something else? You might also be interested in Sturgeon fishing on the Willamette River as well.