Helpful Info for Salmon Fishing in Oregon

By Andy Whitcomb

Jul 03, 2017

Oregon has salmon and steelhead fishery. Here is some information to get you started for fishing for these strong, ocean migrating fish.

If you live close by or are traveling to the Pacific Northwest, you may want to check out salmon fishing in Oregon. According to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the forecast for Oregon salmon fishing should be as strong as previous years. Salmon populations are monitored several ways, including fish counts at numerous stations such as below dams at fish ladders.

When salmon fishing in Oregon (or anywhere else) read regulations! There are varying rules and regulations for specific areas. For example, you can only keep Chinook salmon with their adipose fin clipped if fishing in the Nestucca and Tillamook Bay area. The adipose fin is a small fin located behind the dorsal fin. Chinook and Coho salmon start appearing near the coast in late summer. Depending on the Oregon salmon fishing location, different runs start at different times of the year.

Although technically not salmon, steelhead are very similar and highly prized by anglers interested in fishing in Oregon. With their large steely appearance, novices will need to learn to identify the differences between steelhead (which are rainbow trout that migrate in and out of streams) and the salmon species. For example, the inside of the mouth of Chinook and Coho salmon is black.

June and July are expected to be the peak of the action and fishing pressure is “limited.” By adjusting techniques, steelhead can be caught all year. A small boat may increase access to holding water, especially during the summer. Pay close attention to water levels when deciding when and where to fish. Good flows keep fish active but turbidity after storm runoff can make fishing difficult.

When going salmon fishing, lure colors vary greatly with water flows and location so don’t be afraid to ask for some information at the local bait shop, and while you’re there you can pick up a Portland, Oregon fishing guide. You should always have some egg patterns or bait available. Spinners, fly fishing, drift fishing with bobber, and some plugs can be greatly effective at different times of the year.

Note: the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife warns that although licenses can be purchased online, anglers still need the official license to arrive in the mail. Otherwise, Oregon salmon anglers need to visit an authorized license seller. And check for more information about boating and fishing in Oregon.

Andy Whitcomb
Andy Whitcomb
Andy is an outdoor writer ( and stressed-out Dad has contributed over 380 blogs to since 2011. Born in Florida, but raised on banks of Oklahoma farm ponds, he now chases pike, smallmouth bass, and steelhead in Pennsylvania. After earning a B.S. in Zoology from OSU, he worked in fish hatcheries and as a fisheries research technician at OSU, Iowa State, and Michigan State.