July 20, 2024

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The Complete Guide for Fishing in Oregon

Reading Time: 11 minutes

Between its epic rivers and 350 miles of ocean coast, Oregon boasts a stunning diversity of fishing grounds. And in them, you’ll get to face some of the finest game fish on the planet. However, the angling opportunities change over the course of the year and if you want to make the most of your trip, you’ll have to get familiar with the fishing seasons in Oregon.

Considering there’s both the ocean and the freshwaters to explore, it’s generally possible to fish in the “Beaver State” at any time of the year. Even during the depths of winter, there are different opportunities to catch fish. Below, we’ll show you a brief rundown of what’s biting when, and then delve deeper into what each month offers.

What is the best season to go fishing in Oregon?

Freshwater

Species Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Chinook Salmon Fair Fair Good Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Fair Fair
Coho Salmon Weak Weak Weak Weak Weak Weak Great Great Great Great Good Weak
Sockeye Salmon Weak Weak Weak Weak Weak Good Great Great Good Weak Weak Weak
Rainbow Trout Great Great Good Good Good Good Great Great Great Great Great Great
Cutthroat Trout Weak Weak Weak Good Great Great Good Weak Weak Great Great Good
Sturgeon Great Great Great Good Good Good Good Good Good Great Great Great
Bass Weak Weak Weak Great Great Good Good Good Great Great Good Weak
Walleye Good Good Great Great Good Good Good Good Great Great Good Good

Saltwater

Species Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Ocean Salmon Closed Closed Closed Closed Good Great Great Great Great Good Closed Closed
Halibut Closed Closed Closed Closed Great Great Great Great Great Great Closed Closed
Rockfish Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great
Lingcod Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great
Tuna Weak Weak Weak Weak Weak Good Great Great Great Weak Weak Weak
Crab Good Good Good Good Good Good Good Good Great Great Great Great

While the fish do bite year-round in Oregon, the bulk of the angling takes place from spring to fall. The season generally peaks in summertime, and that’s when most tourist anglers visit the state. The summer also offers the most favorable weather, especially if you plan on heading out into the ocean.

Still, certain fish peak at different times, so if you’re looking to catch a specific species, you might want to plan your trip around that. For example, Steelhead fishing is often more productive during winter than summer. For more details, check out our month-by-month guide below or take a look at what’s biting right now.

January

In January, the winter is in full swing in Oregon. This means stormy conditions on the ocean coast, making it a game of chance whether you can get out there or not. If the weather favors you, then you’ll enjoy excellent bottom fishing, with Lingcod and Rockfish biting with fervor.

An angler in full rain gear kneeling in a shallow stream, holding a huge Steelhead caught fishing in Oregon during the wet season.
Photo courtesy of Brandon Gray’s Guided Fishing.

River fishing, on the other hand, can be pretty action-packed. January is one of the best times to fish for Steelhead that race along Alsea, Clackamas, Coos, and Coquille rivers. Similarly, Trout angling is productive in lakes across the state.

Also, this time of year offers good fishing if you want to face Oregon’s freshwater monster – Sturgeon. While it’s typically prohibited to keep any of them, you’ll find good catch-and-release fishing along the lower Willamette and Columbia Rivers, and Tillamook Bay.

February

The saltwater conditions in February mirror those of January. This means any fishing will be highly weather-dependent. The seas are often too choppy to navigate at this time of year, but if you do get to hit the ocean, expect plenty of bottom fish to put in the cooler.

An angler standing on a boat in full raingear, sunglasses, and a baseball cap, holding a massive Sturgeon he caught while fishing in Oregon.
Photo courtesy of Out Fishin.

On the freshwater front, heavy rainfall can sometimes turn the rivers muddy, creating unfavorable conditions. But if the rivers remain fishable, you can expect your outing to be productive. There’ll be Steelhead biting across Oregon, including in rivers such as Siletz, Siuslaw, Rogue, Wallowa, and more. On the Willamette River, you’ll sometimes even catch early-season Chinook.

Finally, the catch-and-release Sturgeon fishing remains solid throughout winter. Tillamook Bay and the Willamette River offer plenty of action and a chance of reeling in a big one.

March

Oregon’s winter Steelhead fishing reaches its peak in March. You’ll find these feisty fish in rivers all over the state, offering thrilling fights if you’re skilled enough to hook them. After this month, these fish will begin to tail off, so make sure to get on the water now if you’re keen on battling Steelies at their best.

Two anglers wearing hats and raingear posing for a photo with one of them holding a huge Steelhead they caught, with a river and forest behind them.
Photo courtesy of A. Rose Guide Service.

Meanwhile, you can also expect Trout fishing to pick up. While streams are typically still closed for fishing, many lakes across Oregon get stocked with Trout during March. This means there’ll be lots of hungry fish waiting for you to catch them.

Also, with the spring being closer than ever, Chinook Salmon fishing will improve. You can catch early season Salmon in rivers such as the Rogue, Willamette, and Umpqua, but keep regulations in mind! As for saltwater fishing, the bottom bite remains as strong as ever but the unstable weather conditions remain your main obstacle.

April

With the spring arriving, the winter Steelhead fishing that’s been going strong since the beginning of the year begins to dwindle. There are still opportunities to catch them, mind you, but it’s not the same hectic action you’d find in the previous months.

An angler in sunglasses and a hat leaning over the side of a boat on a river and holding a Rainbow Trout above a catch net he pulled it out from, with running water and a shoreline visible to the left of the photo.
Photo courtesy of Oregon Fly Guide.

However, Trout angling remains stellar, with more and more lakes getting stocked. If you’re looking for ideas on where to go, Detroit Lake is a popular Trout hotspot.

In the rivers, Salmon fishing begins to heat up, but be mindful of the regulations as not all waters will allow you to target them. The lower Rogue River and the Umpqua River feature good early season Salmon, as does the Willamette River, especially below the dam. Sturgeon fishing is also fair, with the mighty Columbia River remaining the top spot.

But let’s not forget Bass! April marks the start of the Bass fishing season in Oregon. During this time, the fish usually follow their pre-spawn pattern, which means they’ll feed aggressively. In some places, such as the Dalles Pool, you’ll also get the chance to land some big Walleye. Meanwhile, on the saltwater front, it’s still all about bottom fishing.

May

Saltwater fishing finally starts picking up come May. The weather is more favorable and more fish start showing up. Oregon’s all-depth Halibut season usually opens this month. With them, you might also get the chance to reel in some ocean Salmon, provided the regulations allow for it.

A group of anglers posing on the deck of a charter boat in Oregon, holding six Halibut they caught fishing during the all-depth season, with other docked boats visible behind them.
Photo courtesy of Pastime Fishing Adventures.

When it comes to freshwater opportunities, Trout fishing is still as solid as ever. But what’s even better is that most rivers and streams finally open in the latter half of May. Visit the Deschutes River, and you’ll get to reel in native “Redside” Trout during the salmonfly hatch.

To add even more variety into the mix, spring Chinook will also be biting. As was the case in April, the Rogue and Umpqua Rivers remain top choices. However, there’s also great fishing in the Portland area along the Willamette River and its tributaries, as well as in Tillamook Bay and the rivers that feed into it.

Lastly, Bass fishing is hot all over Oregon, with both Smallmouth and Largemouth scattered across the different rivers and lakes. You might also see the first signs of summer Steelhead beginning their runs.

June

By June, the stormy weather becomes less of a nuisance, making it easier to get out into the Pacific. Salmon fishing may be an option, too, depending on the regulations. But even if Salmon fishing is closed, you’ll find solid bottom action, with lots of tasty critters biting.

An angler in sunglasses and a hat standing in a very shallow creek, holding a big Redband Trout caught fly fishing in Oregon, with rocky shores and trees visible behind him.
Photo courtesy of Oregon Fly Guide.

On the rivers, it’s a summer Steelhead bonanza. The Snake, John Day, and the Grande Ronde all offer excellent fishing, among others. The Columbia River is also a solid choice, where you’ll also get to reel in Chinook Salmon, as they often make a run in June. On the Deschutes River, the native Redband Trout will still be active.

Besides the fish we named so far, Walleye will also bite with fervor in June. They typically spawn in May, leaving them hungry in the period after. For these fish, the Dalles Pool remains your go-to location.

And if you’re into Bass, you can expect great fishing throughout the month. However, as the weather gets warmer and warmer, Bass will start leaving the shallows and move to their summer haunts.

July

Oregon enters its peak fishing season in July. More and more Salmon begin racing along the Pacific coast, making it the perfect time to hit the ocean. One of the prime spots, called the “Rock Pile,” lies off the coast of Newport and it’s where you’ll get to catch all the local favorites. Later in the month, Tuna begin showing up offshore, setting the stage for a summer full of excitement.

Two anglers in sunglasses and hats, posing for a photo on a boat, holding a massive Chinook Salmon they caught during the ocean fishing season in Oregon, with the Pacific visible behind them.
Photo courtesy of Premier Guide Service.

Meanwhile, freshwater fishing is just as outstanding with plenty of Steelhead and Salmon to catch if you know where to go. For Steelhead, the Columbia River and its tributaries are still incredibly productive. As for Salmon, try fishing above Willamette Falls and in the river’s tributaries.

With the waters nice and warm, Bass will be hiding in deep holes and around underwater structures. So while there are definitely good opportunities to reel them in, you’ll have to hop on a boat or head out early. You’ll also see Walleye bite throughout July, especially along the Columbia River.

August

As you can probably tell by now, there’s good fishing in Oregon throughout the year. However, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better time than August. This is primarily because Oregon’s most famous fishery opens this month. We’re talking, of course, about Buoy 10.

An angler in sunglasses and a hat smiling and standing on a boat while holding a big Chinook Salmon, with a river's waters and shore visible behind him.
Photo courtesy of Shirley Catch Guide Service.

For those not familiar with this amazing fishery, Buoy 10 designates a section of the Columbia River near Astoria. Here, you’ll get to experience some of the best Salmon fishing Oregon has to offer. Your main target will be Chinook Salmon, with silvery Coho arriving in bigger numbers towards the second half of the month. And in case you can’t get to Buoy 10, Coos Bay is a very solid alternative at this time.

Meanwhile, if you head upriver and fish the Columbia near Portland, you’re likely to catch Steelhead. However, the colder Deschutes River is an even better choice at this time of year. Elsewhere, the Steelhead action typically falls into a lull, which luckily won’t last long.

Offshore, you’ll find plenty of Albacore Tuna. These fish lurk 15 and more miles from the coast, which means you’ll have to get ready for a bit of a ride. However, August is arguably the best time to target them. Also, keep an eye out for all-depth Halibut openings.

September

The fantastic Coho and Chinook fishing continues in September. You’ll mostly want to be fishing in the various bays along the coast at this time of year. Here, you’ll also find another special treat – Dungeness Crab. Further from land, it’s still Albacore Tuna season, though they’ll be making their way out by the end of the month.

Three anglers standing on a boat, posing for a photo while each holds two crabs, with waters visible behind them on a hazy day.
Photo courtesy of Pacific Offshore Charters.

On the rivers, you can expect summer Steelhead to start making their runs upriver. The fishing will be getting better as it gets deeper into September and the waters cool down. Speaking of cooler waters, Trout fishing will also improve with more stockings taking place starting in fall.

The same applies to Bass. With the temperatures finally dropping, you’ll see them on the move again. During this time, you can go after Bass around transitional, mid-depth ledges, humps, and points.

October

As we enter fall, Sturgeon fishing improves again! While these majestic river beasts can be caught year-round in Oregon’s waters, October is one of the better months to go for them. The best fishery is, of course, the Columbia River.

A woman in sunglasses posing for a photo and holding a huge Coho Salmon, with waters, docked boats, and clear skies in the background.
Photo courtesy of Prospector’s Fishing Adventures.

Meanwhile, Coho and Chinook Salmon begin entering the river systems across the state. Tillamook Bay is the go-to place for Chinook in October, and the rivers that feed into it will become productive as it gets deeper into fall.

Steelhead, on the other hand, can still be found in the Deschutes River, especially at the beginning of the month. Some other options include the Grande Ronde and the Imnaha Rivers.

Finally, Trout fishing is also excellent. Hotspots include the Williamson River, Henry Hagg Lake, and the Sprague River. Most streams and rivers will close at the end of October, meaning it’s your last chance to fish them for Trout.

November

With Salmon migrating upriver and Tuna leaving the offshore waters, saltwater fishing in November is all about Rockfish. And although not as consistent as in October, there’ll still be plenty of crustaceans to harvest inshore. You can also expect more and more rainy days, which may get in the way of your saltwater plans.

An angler in a hat and sporting a grey beard standing on a boat and holding a Rockfish towards the camera, with the boat's console visible behind him.
Photo courtesy of Prospector’s Fishing Adventures.

While the Trout fishing season has ended on most streams and rivers, the action is still ongoing on Oregon’s lakes. The recipe for good fishing is simple – base your destination on the Trout stocking schedule and there’ll be fish to catch.

When it comes to Salmon fishing, it’s again a question of where you go. While the peak season has passed on most major rivers, some still offer good numbers of fish. The Wilson, Trask, Elk, and Chetco are just some of the rivers where Chinook Salmon will still gobble up your bait.

For late-season Steelhead, the Rogue River is one of the best picks. The same goes for the Snake River if you’re up for a more remote trek.

December

As the year winds down to a close, the weather will again start working against you, especially when it comes to saltwater fishing. You’ll have to wait for favorable conditions to even have the option to fish the ocean. But if you’re in luck, you can expect big Lingcod and Rockfish to gobble up your bait.

An angler in a beanie and sunglasses holding a big blueish Lingcod he caught bottom fishing in Oregon during the late season, with the ocean visible behind him.
Photo courtesy of Pastime Fishing Adventures.

Freshwater fishing, on the other hand, is bountiful. It’s the very start of the winter Steelhead season, with their numbers growing with each passing week. The Coos River, as well as the Willamette and Clackamas, are solid choices for Steelhead.

December is also a good time to fish for Sturgeon. Along some parts of the Columbia River, you may even be allowed to keep some, but that’s dependent on each the latest regulations. Tillamook Bay is also a great place for catch-and-release fishing.

Oregon: The Pacific Wonderland

A scenic view of the shallow Deschutes River in Oregon, with pine trees visible on the right of the photo and yellowish bushes on the left.

To briefly sum up, Oregon offers fantastic fishing even if the weather sometimes gets in the way. Out here, you’ll find a wealth of rivers, well-stocked lakes, and an ocean of saltwater angling opportunities. No matter which season you pick to go fishing in Oregon, there’ll be something for you to reel in. And with a trusty local guide on your side, the adventure will go even smoother.

What’s your favorite season to go fishing in Oregon? Which species do you like targeting the most? Hit the comment button and let us know!

The post Fishing Seasons in Oregon: The Complete Guide appeared first on FishingBooker Blog.

By: Marko
Title: Fishing Seasons in Oregon: The Complete Guide
Sourced From: fishingbooker.com/blog/oregon-fishing-seasons/
Published Date: Tue, 24 Oct 2023 21:56:00 +0000

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