Columbia River Fishing Charters
Hook’em Up Guide Service is your premier fishing charter and guide service for catching salmon, sturgeon, and steelhead trout on the mighty Columbia River.
Everyhing You Need to Know About Fishing on the Columbia River
Columbia River fishing charters provide extreme fishing trips in and across the state lines of Oregon and Washington. The main fish to catch during a river Columbia fishing charter include salmon (mainly Coho salmon and King salmon), sturgeon, and steelhead.
As a popular northwestern United States river, the Columbia entails popular fishing spots such as Buoy 10, also known as the hottest King salmon fishery in the entire Pacific Northwest. Additionally, the buoy is the place to check out for awesome keeper sturgeon and trophy Coho while on a Columbia River fishing charter.
Of all the rivers crisscrossing the state of Oregon, river Columbia has to be on the frontlines of the Oregon fishing scene due to its large runs of King salmon and summer steelhead fishing in the lower 48 states, not to mention the best sturgeon fishing on the globe. Throw in a dash of sturgeon hunting in the Columbia River Gorge and you’ve got yourself a complimentary scenic view to add to your Oregon fishing tales.
You should also note that the Columbia is a mighty river with several tributaries and extensive fishing opportunities. Why is that? Your Columbia River fishing charter will see you fish the main Columbia River fishing spots and those on its various tributaries from the Bonneville Dam to the famous Buoy 10 that’s close to Astoria, Oregon—the point that forms the mouth of River Columbia as its drains its waters into the Pacific Ocean.
According to the prevailing fishing forecasts out now from various Oregon sport and game fishing players, the fall Kings or Chinook salmon are expected to surpass the 800,000 mark. It’s a record number of King salmon available for anglers to hunt. You’ll want to take part in this fishing action for a chance at bagging some Kings in one of the biggest King Salmon run forecasts in recent history.
Apart from multiple fishing points, Columbia River is also guaranteed to offer you year-round fishing. On this river, you have the chance to chase after trophy fish through all fishing seasons in Oregon.
Starting from the mouth of the Columbia River at the Astoria, Oregon area and IIwaco in Washington and all the way to the Hanford Reach, through the city of Portland, the Bonneville Dam fishing Zone and upwards toward the John Day River, get ready to set up your fishing gear and tackle to trap meaningful loads of salmon, steelhead and sturgeon regardless of the time of year you take a Columbia River fishing charter.
The Columbia River fishing charters are fairly busy throughout much of the fishing calendar year because the various fishing seasons on the many Columbia River fisheries are well-laid out by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and remain largely predictable due to the fish population conservatory works by the agency.
One more thing to note: if your plan is to visit the Portland or larger Oregon area for a fishing vacation with your sights set on sturgeon angling, you’ll need to know a thing or two about keeper and catch and release sturgeon fishing.
Catch and release fish on the Columbia River is almost always permitted by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. You can easily land upwards of four 10-footer oversized sturgeon or up to sixty, 3 to 6 foot sturgeon and take pictures while you marvel at these Columbia River trophy fish before releasing them back into the water unharmed as per the Oregon state fishing laws.
However, if you’re interested in keeper sturgeon angling, you’ll need to consult with your Columbia River fishing charter. Better yet, visit the Fish and Wildlife Department’s site around late March when the keeper sturgeon season or limited period retention dates are usually announced.
For your information, the Columbia River has two keeper sturgeon runs. Catch one in the Bonneville pool fishery at the Bonneville Lock and Dam and also 45 miles up River Columbia at The Dalles Lock and Dam. The first keeper season happens around January to mid-February and anglers are entitled to a quota of 500 sturgeon.
The other take-home sturgeon fishing season occurs about 100 miles downstream near Astoria. Here you’ll have a rare opportunity to embark on a Columbia River fishing guide to catch and keep tasty-eating, up to 100-pounder sturgeon in only 10-15 feet of water. This keeper sturgeon angling attraction will probably be during the mid-May to mid-June Columbia River fishing season.
So, are you ready to place a booking call with a Columbia River fishing guide and have the fishing adventure of a lifetime? Yes? We thought so. Gear up for insane-energy, fast-action Columbia River fishing for trophy and keeper sturgeon, monster fall and spring Chinook or King, Coho Salmon, rainbow trout, and the hard-biting, fighting steelhead on the Columbia River and all its surrounding tributaries.
It’s your chance to have that exceptional Oregon/Columbia River fishing experience that you’ve been longing for and looking forward to for so long.
Interesting Information Anglers Should About the Columbia River
Columbia River is the largest river in North America to drain its waters into the Pacific Ocean at Astoria, Oregon. It’s also the largest in the Pacific Northwest at a total length of 1240 miles, only exceeded in size by the Mackenzie, Mississippi, and St. Lawrence Rivers. But long before cutting through two continents and flowing into the Pacific, it has its headwaters in the Columbia Lake in British Columbia, Canada.
From here, the river stretches some 500 miles or 800 km to the British Columbia province’s westernmost border with the US and enters the state of Washington before flowing downwards to form most of the border between the Washington and Oregon States.
Some of the Columbia River’s main tributaries are rivers:
- Snake (the largest tributary)
- Pend Oreille
The Columbia River has characteristic high flows in the spring and summer months as the snow cover disappears in the mountainous watershed. The river tends to be low-flowing in the fall and winter due to freezing weather conditions.
And much like the Oregon region climatic conditions, the Columbia River Basin’s climate is greatly influenced by the orographic effects of the Rocky Mountains, making the weather conditions part continental and part marine.
You won’t experience winter storms or moist heavy rain-inducing Pacific Ocean air largely due to the Rocky Mountains cover to the east of the river and the shielding of the Cascade Range to the west. So, summers are usually hot, dry at between 70 and 75 °F (21 and 24 °C) and occasioned but light showers while winters exhibit moderate cold at 25 and 30 °F (−4 and −1 °C) and medium snow cover.
Like most of North America before colonization, the Columbia River Basin was inhabited by various Native Americans for hundreds of years. This Native American inhabitation only changed with the arrival of foreigners such as the Spanish explorers on the Pacific coast at River Columbia’s mouth.
Other outsiders to explore and document their Columbia River expedition were American trader Robert Gray who loved the river so much that he named it after his ship, the Columbia and sailors Lewis and Clark who were the first Americans to experience Columbia River in the winter between 1805 and 1806. The other outsider was European geographer, David Thompson.
Early economic activity on River Columbia included irrigation at the present-day Wallula section of the river in the state of Washington. The Columbia River was also a major transportation route to the interior parts of the Native American lands up until the establishment of the railroad.
Most of the river journeys were by canoes and barges stirred by traders and early foreign occupants. The small vessels later gave way to steam engines which greatly aided the agricultural and mining economies of the Columbia River Basin, especially in what is today the Portland, Oregon area and at several connecting stages.
The explorers also discovered plenty of salmon fish in the Columbia River. Early fishing activities entailed using nets, traps, and wheels to catch loads of salmon. The fishing is what led to the cropping up of Columbia River canneries that ended up supplying Great Britain and other world markets, paving the way for the Columbia River fishing adventures as we know it today.
Interesting Facts About the Columbia River
The river is the largest waterway in the Pacific Northwest region of the US and the seventh longest in North America. Its source is the Columbia Lake in the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia, Canada.
River Columbia follows a 200 kilometer path (1243 miles), first north westerly from its headwaters, then south to the US-Canada border into the state of Washington before forming much of the state border in the south and north of the Washington and Oregon states, respectively, and finally emptying into the Pacific Ocean. Its average flow at the mouth as it drains into the Pacific is 7500 cubic meters per second.
Columbia River has a major contribution to hydroelectric-generation in Canada and the US, with a total of 14 power stations in the two countries. The river’s drainage basin or watershed is the largest in North America at 668,000 square kilometers (258,000 square miles).
The basin is extensive in terms of the areas it encompasses which includes almost the entire of Idaho and sizable portions of British Columbia, and the states of Oregon and Washington. Some geographers equate the total area of the basin to the size of France.
The basin is also home to some 609 known fish and wildlife species.
More than 60 tributaries connect to the Columbia River, with the largest of them—by size—being the Snake, Willamette, Kootenay, and Pend Oreille Rivers.
Columbia River has an in-river canyon—the Columbia River Gorge. The gorge is at least 4000 feet deep and stretches over 80 miles through the Cascade Range. It’s the point at which River Columbia forms a boundary between the State of Washington to the north and Oregon to the south.
Lots of Native American groups of people have lived and depended on the Columbia River ecosystem for long dating back to 15,000 years. Salmon and other fish were vital for the sustenance and upholding of the religious beliefs of native peoples and their culture.
The Columbia River cuts through several major cities such as the Tri-Cities, Revelstoke, Portland in Oregon, Vancouver in Washington, Longview and Astoria offering the rare opportunity to fish in a metropolitan area.
A varied family of fish and different fish species inhabit the Columbia River some of which migrate between the Pacific Ocean and the freshwaters of its many tributaries several times a year. The river houses diversified types of salmon, including Sockeye, Coho, Chinook or King. The other more notable fish species are sturgeon and the steelies or steelhead trout.
Fish to Catch on the Columbia River
Your Coho salmon fishing on the Columbia River will be best enjoyed while angling from a fishing boat. You can choose to troll bait or anchor on one of the productive Coho salmon fisheries in the big river. The first place you should hit is upstream at the Bonneville pool, specifically at the confluence of the Columbia River with the Wind and Little White Salmon (Drano Lake) rivers. September is the best time of year to hunt Coho at these spots.
For anglers tracking Coho salmon on the Columbia River near the Portland area, September also doubles up as the best fishing season. Another Coho-rich fishing zone Northwest of Portland but still a few hours’ drive is the Buoy 10 estuary management area close to Astoria and Hammond where the August and early September fishing calendar is jam-packed with fantastic Coho fishing on the Columbia River.
You must be wondering why all the Columbia River Coho salmon fishing seems to be centered around the month of September. Well, it’s because September is less busy than August in Portland and other port towns in the Oregon and Washington states. And in this time, modest numbers of Coho are biting upriver, especially at the tributary mouths.
Columbia River has been synonymous with salmon-chasing action for the longest time, with the Native American people living on its riverbanks depending on the fish for centuries. Chinook, Coho and Sockeye salmon are the dominant salmon species on river Columbia.
Each of these salmon varieties have unique features. The King salmon or Chinook in particular are hard-fighters when they bite. Charter captains and anglers liken the King Salmon’s pushback to a freight train yanking on the other end of your fishing line.
You’re almost guaranteed to catch a 25-30 pound King salmon on the Columbia River fishing charter in the fall fishing season. Some Columbia River fishing charters provide simultaneous Coho and King salmon fishing at the onset of August and right at the beginning of the fall fishing calendar months to give anglers the opportunity to hunt a mixed bag of fish. Go with the tried and true salmon fishing style of trolling the fish and using spinners baiting or with roe clusters, shrimp, and anchovies.
Buoy 10 is undoubtedly the best fishing spot of king salmon angling on the Columbia River. And when the Chinook start migrating upriver, some anglers pursue them as they move toward the Cowlitz tributary and Lewis River into the Bonneville Dam. The Columbia River is responsible for the largest run of King salmon, especially in the fall fishing season and also significantly oversized “June Hogs” Chinook.
Where else on the west coast would you get an all-year, fully-fledged sturgeon fishing experience if you don’t plan a Columbia River sturgeon fishing charter? Plus, lately, the lower section of the mighty Columbia River between the estuary near Astoria and Bonneville Dam has registered some pretty high numbers of sturgeon, making the 100 mile stretch of water a promising fishery for sturgeon anglers.
This very 100 mile stretch of waterway ushers anglers to yet more sturgeon fast-action at the Portland and Vancouver region where the Willamette River/tributary joins the Columbia. Sturgeon numbers here are lower due to predation by sea lions and decline in some of their food sources, but the fishing zone is fertile nonetheless.
The low sturgeon population corresponds with the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Department’s counter measures to end sturgeon retention in the lower sections of the Columbia River below the Bonneville Dam under permanent sturgeon catch and release regulations. But anglers should not let that be a bummer for their fishing adventures because recent sturgeon runs and seasons have seen regulators permit several sturgeon retention days for as long as sturgeon run forecasts allow it.
Most of the sturgeon fish you’ll catch on Columbia River are the white sturgeon species, but anglers setting up tackle in the estuary also occasionally catch green sturgeon. Target tasty-eating sturgeon by fishing on retention days on one of the quota system sturgeon reservation fisheries above the Bonneville Dam.
All in all, focus your Columbia River sturgeon fishing efforts in the Columbia River estuary where sturgeon come to feed on shrimp, bait fish, and worms. The best fishing spot on the estuary is the Desdemona Sands from the Astoria Megler Bridge downward to Hammond. This area is close to the deep shipping lanes where sturgeon tend to bite better.
And when fishing downstream river Columbia, there might not be any need to head further down from Portland than the St. Helens and Scappoose Bay fishing points. Don’t forget about the Columbia River Gorge that’s excellent for white sturgeon fishing as sturgeon feed on the shad swimming upriver.
You can go sturgeon fishing with a simple set up of rod, and fishing line. Use light tackle for small sturgeon fish but also bring the heavy gear in case the oversized sturgeon bite. You might also want to do some rigging with a heavy fishing weight and stable leaders to ensure that you actually bottom-fish depths of the Columbia River where sturgeon lurk and feed.
Steelhead are big, ocean-going rainbow trout that migrate from the Pacific Ocean to the Columbia River in two major runs—one in the summer and the other in the winter. However, anglers can pretty much fish for steelheads in river Columbia all-year long.
Schedule your Columbia River steelhead fishing charter in the late-spring through the summer fishing period as the steelies head upstream in search of natural spawning hideouts and to the many hatcheries on the Columbia River stretch in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho.
Most steelhead anglers fish on the beach since steelhead swim close to shore in only 6-12 feet deep water. Alternatively, you can anchor your fishing boat and set tackle in the steelhead travel lanes and wait for the fish to bite so you can reel them in without much of a hassle.
The most suitable fishing techniques for steelhead bank and beginner anglers are plunking, fly-fishing, bobber and jig/bait-fishing, and lure fishing with spinners.
Your best chance at summer steelhead on the lower Columbia River will be in May and June. Set your sights in the Portland area and deeper into river Columbia at the Bonneville Dam. Further afield and east of the Cascades, you’ll have an easier time hunting and catching summer steelhead in the cool waterways during the fall fishing season.
Come winter, loads of steelhead trout migrate upstream unscathed by anglers. The few that end up in traps are sort of mistaken identities as Columbia River fishers set up their tackle to target King Salmon. The lower Columbia River at the Sandy and Cowlitz tributary rivers is your best bet at hooking a lot of steelhead in the cold of winter.
Why Choose the Columbia River for Your Next Fishing Trip
A Columbia River fishing adventure will ensure you land big loads of salmon, steelhead, and keeper sturgeon. The river will see you traverse several fishing spots from the Columbia River Gorge to Buoy 10 in Astoria, Oregon, among other popular river Columbia fishing zones.
There are great fish to catch year round
Chasing the various salmon, sturgeon and steelhead runs on Columbia River happens on certain fishing seasons, but the river generally offers fishing opportunities throughout the year. You just need to pick a time that suits you and place a booking call with a Columbia River fishing charter to plan your fishing expedition.
You can catch a variety of types of fish
The Columbia River has two prominent factors that make its river fishing scene vibrant. One is that the river has unique geological features that support rich marine life, including 609 fish and wildlife species.
The second is that the Columbia River fish varieties fall in different, large families of fish, making the fish selection for anglers that much bigger. The river offers diversified fishing of various types of salmon, steelhead, and sturgeon.
It’s close to a lot of popular locations
What makes Columbia River fishing charters so popular with anglers is the close proximity of the fishing spots to nearby locations in the states of Oregon and Washington.
Astoria, Oregon is one of the finest fisheries on the Columbia River located close to the mouth of the river. The city sits Northwest of Portland at just a few hours’ drive and is home to the Buoy 10 estuary management area that’s synonymous with great salmon and sturgeon fishing.
Portland is a port city in Oregon that provides deep shipping lanes suitable for sturgeon fishing. The port city also has one of Columbia River’s tributaries, the Willamette River, cutting right through it and affords anglers a rare opportunity to fish in a metropolitan area.
The Columbia is Beautiful
The Columbia River has its own distinct features such as an in-river gorge, and several tributaries that feed into it. Its winding flow through US-Canada and state line borders, the hundreds of fish and wildlife species it supports, and its draining through the timber-producing cascades and coastal range all add to its scenic attributes.
Why Choose Hook’em Up For Your Next Columbia River Fishing Trip
Fishing with Portland Natives
Your previous experience angling elsewhere doesn’t compare to embarking on a Columbia River fishing trip with a professional Portland native Hook’em Up fishing guide.
Hook’em Up captains have each got years of experience under their belts. Our fishing chaperones are also well-conversant with all the Columbia River natural fishing zones and hatcheries.
Place a booking call with Hook’em Up, schedule your fishing tour, and get the chance to hit popular Columbia River fisheries with a pro-angler.
14 Years of Fishing Experience in Portland
Reputable fishing charters ride on experience and professionalism, which is what Hook’em Up is all about.
Take a look at our customer experience reviews and you’ll realize our expertise stands out. We’ve been at it for 14 solid years and are skilled enough on the Columbia River and larger Oregon and Washington fishing scene to guide your fishing trip.
Additionally, we provide a comprehensive fishing package complete with a boat, tackle, fishing gear, and equipment. We even accommodate anglers who request personalized fishing experiences where possible.
Full-time Fishing Guide (more experience and know where the fish are)
Don’t stress over not owning a fishing boat or even being a first-time angler on the Columbia River. Instead, hook up with a Hook’em Up fishing guide for a hassle-free and in-depth angling experience on the Columbia.
The whole point of getting a Hook’em Up guided fishing expedition is to take out the guesswork from your fishing expedition and go straight to the right fishing spots where the salmon, sturgeon, and steelies are swimming about waiting to bite into your fishing hook.
With Hook’em Up, you’re almost assured of an exciting time out on the water from Astoria to far up river Columbia and all the fisheries in-between.
2 Custom-Built Fishing Boats
Fishing adventure packages at Hook’em Up are tailor-made to satisfy your unique needs. For example, Hook’em Up caters to anglers that plan on going fishing as a family, a couple, or a group of friends.
The Oregon state marine board only permits 6 anglers per boat, including the guide. So for upwards of 6 fishers, Hook’em Up either provides two or more fishing boats or multiple boat trips for the larger size groups of anglers.
The best part is that cancellations at the discretion of our captains due to bad weather conditions or other valid reasons lead to full trip deposit refunds without question.