Portland Oregon Fishing Guide Service
Hook’em Up Guide Service is your premier fishing charter and guide service for all the rivers in the Portland area. Learn everything you need to know about fishing around Portland.
Portland, Oregon the Fishing Gem of the Pacific North West
Should it really come as a surprise to any fishing enthusiast out there that Portland, Oregon is one of the best fishing destinations in the Pacific Northwest? It shouldn’t. Primarily due to the many rivers in and around the city.
But we get why Portland—being a major port city in the northernmost part of the Willamette Valley in Northwestern Oregon — might fail to strike you as a great fishing region.
Most folks know Portland for the famed NBA team, the Portland Trail Blazers. This sixth-most populous metropolis in the US West Coast is also famous for its decade’s long successful commercial flower industry, hence the nickname Rose City or the City of Roses. Additionally, some people hear the words “Portland, Oregon” and the first thing that comes to mind is stuff like Bridgetown, Soccer City, and Little Beirut. Portland has quite some rivers, some of which cut right through the city such as the Willamette River, dotting it with several bridges which explains the tag Bridgetown.
Portland is also one heck of a fishing vacation spot for both natives and out of town anglers looking to sport fish and catch game fish or even participate in fishing events. Why is that? The answer lies in:
- The city’s natural endowment with lots of rivers and waterways
- A great variety of fish
- Its proximity to the Pacific Ocean at just 60 miles away from the ocean coast, and
- Its year-round favorable climate
The Portland, Oregon climate can best be described as a Mediterranean climate. The typical Mediterranean climate entails warm summers and cool and rainy winters.
You won’t see extremes such as thunder, lightning, cyclones and tornadoes, but expect overcast, wet and fluctuating temperatures, especially in the fall, winter, and spring. And also because Portland lies smack in the middle of the stormy westerly flow path. The warm and dry summers are the result of the Pacific High reaching the northernmost part of Portland in the mid-summer.
Pit three of the most populated Pacific Northwest cities (Seattle, Vancouver, British Columbia) against Portland and you’ll realize that Portland registers the warmest average temperatures, nearly year-round sunshine, and rainfall and snow cover that’s just enough not to make the Portland fishing calendar much of a hassle. You can thank Portland’s low elevation and urban heat island effect for the low snow cover.
December is the coldest month of the year. Don’t worry about planning your Portland fishing vacation around the end of the year because the lows are usually above freezing temperatures by a few degrees. The weather should be pretty manageable and the fishing enjoyable nonetheless.
So, if you don’t want to fish in the cold, make sure you plan a Portland, Oregon fishing expedition for the summertime that runs from mid-June through early September.
And it would be best to slot in that fishing getaway in the late Spring when the temperatures are the warm and mild. You’ll really enjoy angling in mild temperatures courtesy of Portland’s 60 miles inland location from the Pacific Ocean. The protective nature of the Oregon Coast range that makes Portland insusceptible to extreme weather conditions of the Pacific Ocean.
It’s crystal clear that Portland, Oregon is the place to be for an unrivalled freshwater angling experience. But first note that:
- All anglers 12 and above need a valid fishing license
- For all your Columbia River fishing exploration, you’ll need a Columbia River Basin Endorsement
The Columbia River Basin Endorsement is a requirement for anglers chasing after Salmon, Steelhead, and Sturgeon on all rivers and tributaries in the Columbia River Basin. An annual endorsement goes for $10 when bought with an annual fishing license. Or you can opt for a one day angling licnse and add the $1 daily Columbia River Basin Endorsement. Hook’em Up Guide Service is a licensed agent and can sell fishing licenses onboard their boats before heading out on a trip.
And in case you’re wondering what fish is available to catch in Portland, well, here is a snapshot:
Salmon is a favorite fish to chase among the thousands of anglers that frequent Portland for its vibrant fishing scene. So it might as well feature in your wish list. Chinook and Coho Salmon are the most popular fish varieties to target.
Plan your fishing trip during Spring and throughout the Summer for an exhilarating Chinook and Coho Salmon fishing season on the Columbia and Willamette Rivers. Come Fall, Chinook will still be running, but you’ll have to fish upstream on Columbia River and above Bonneville Dam for a better shot at catching these trophy fish. Tillamook Bay has a later return of Chinook Salmon. It peaks in October and November.
Set your sights on either of two Steelhead fishing seasons. One during the Summer and the other in the cold of Winter. Fish the Columbia river for the Summer run Steelhead and the Clackamas River for the Winter Steelhead.
We didn’t forget about Portland’s Sturgeon fishing. It doesn’t really matter what time of year you visit because Sturgeon are always biting throughout the year on the Columbia and Willamette Rivers. Sturgeon are a catch and release designated fish and you can do exactly that any time you visit Portland on a fishing excursion. Short Sturgeon retention seasons occur in different zones throughout the year.
With such a rich fishing culture comes plenty of fishing charters and guides all over Portland, Oregon. Most of these Portland, Oregon fishing guides have their points of departure at the Columbia River and at the confluence of the Columbia and Willamette Rivers, which, coincidentally, is the geographical location of Portland in Oregon.
The fishing guides run anywhere from 4-8 hour fishing trips. Half-day fishing tours, or even an entire day spent out on the water in pursuit of the diversified fish types in the Portland, Oregon rivers and smaller waterways. You have a great deal of options to choose from, so place your booking call with a Portland, Oregon fishing guide today and head on down to the City of Roses for a jaw-dropping fishing expedition.
Fishing Locations Near Portland, Oregon
Find a fishing license agent ( Hook’em Up Guide Service ) in the Portland area or get one online from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Once the legal fishing formalities are out of the way, assemble your fishing rod, tackle, lures and/or legal bait and other fishing gear, and get a copy of the Oregon sport fishing regulations. Or just book a spot with your Portland Oregon fishing guide and they will supply all the fishing gear, bait, licensing and know how for the day.
Don’t know where the best fishing points are or even the best time of year to chase your preferred type of fish in the Portland waterways?
We’ll help you out. Here is a lowdown of the best fishing locations near Portland, Oregon:
Columbia River Guided Fishing Charters
The Columbia is the largest river in the entire Pacific Northwest region of the US. The river starts its journey in the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia, Canada and flows south all the way into North America’s Washington state.
A significant portion of the Columbia River forms most of the border between Washington and the Oregon states as it follows its path west to the west coast to drain its waters into the Pacific Ocean.
Columbia River Coho Salmon Fishing – August-October
You might come and hear some Portland anglers use the term silvers in reference to Coho Salmon. This is a nickname given for their bright shiny chrome color. These fish are fun acrobatic jumpers when they hook up. They exhibit periods of aggressive biting in the ocean. Furious feeding patterns attacking bait balls at any given opportunity. When you land on a feeding school it can be wild. Hook’em Up Guide Service Captains refer to this as a “Coho Rodeo”. Three or even four fish on at once.
You won’t have to always make your way to the Pacific Ocean or to faraway Oregon coastal bays to fish for Coho Salmon. These fish migrate right through the Portland area and nearby waterways. And by nearby we mean great fisheries and fishing spots less than an hour from the city of Portland.
Anglers after Coho salmon in the Portland Rivers are best placed to catch loads of them right after a substation amount of rainfall that tends to send the Coho upstream.
You can choose to troll fish and cover large areas of a particular fishing spot or Portland River that you’ll be fishing in during the Coho Salmon season. Alternatively, anchor your boat and cast lures (wobbling plugs, spinners, spoons, jigs, etc.) or baits of your choice and reel in those Coho Salmon.
For those of you fishing on the banks, cast and slowly retrieve lures such as spinners, spoons, and jigs in deep water. Or baits the likes of cured Salmon roe clusters drifted along the bottom in swifter currents of smaller streams. This can give you a better shot at enticing less active Coho Salmon to bite.
Some of the same Coho Salmon fishing techniques apply when you fish the Oregon salt waters where the Coho are much easier to catch. Usually trolling a flasher with a crippled anchovy behind it is a sure bet to get some action.
Late season head upstream on the big Columbia River and set up your tackle to catch Coho in the Sandy, Washugal, Wind and Little White Salmon rivers.
These are the ideal spots to catch Coho in the September-October Portland fishing season.
Columbia River King Salmon Fishing – March-October
King Salmon, also known as Chinook, are the biggest of all Salmon fish species swimming the mighty Columbia River. We’re talking massive fish that can easily surpass the 20-30 pounds weight. Some anglers have landed 40lb+ King Salmon.
If you want to bag yourself a huge King Salmon, ensure you have the Buoy 10 fishery on your Portland, Oregon fishing itinerary. The Buoy is not only a shipping marker at the mouth of the Columbia but also the hottest fishing spot for monster-size King Salmon in Oregon and across the Lower 48.
You’ll also want to frequent the Columbia River stretch between Portland, Oregon and Bonneville Dam in the breathtaking Columbia River Gorge for a great shot at catching a King Salmon.
Expect hard fought battles because King Salmon are big and powerful. They guarantee you hard fighting action before you can finally secure them in your net.
Columbia River Steelhead Fishing-July-September
The Steelhead love the Pacific Ocean as much as they love the Oregon waterways. Steelhead arrive in Portland waters in two runs: the Summer run and the Winter run. So, we’ve got what we call the “summers” Steelhead and the “winters” Steelhead.
Summers are biting in Portland during the lengthy Spring and Summer seasons. Steelhead swim close to shore and are popular with beach anglers. Boaters trolling or anchoring in the Steelhead travel paths can also catch several of them.
All Through the lower Columbia River in the Portland area and upwards to the Bonneville Dam as of 2022 the Summer Steelhead run size has been down. The last few years the fish seem to be disappearing. Fish and wildlife departments are working to retore the Summer Steelhead on the Columbia river to what they once were just a few years ago. The seasons have been closed or short with only a one fish limit in most areas. Be sure to check the current regulations before you go.
Jet boat fishing trips on the Clackamas river where the Winter Steelhead migrate in fairly large numbers is a popular fishery in Portland. It holds some great opportunity for Winter Steelhead fishing in the Portland area. The winter runs are stable and doing well.
Columbia River Sturgeon Fishing – All year
If you’re longing to see a giant Sturgeon ripping line on the other end of your fishing rod, the Columbia River Sturgeon fishing is one of the most fun fisheries to hit. It’s often not whether you might catch one, but how many and how big they will be.
Sturgeon fishing is mostly done from a boat on anchor. Baits with a single point barbless hook will be fished directly on the bottom. Sturgeon have a unusual characteristically round mouth on the bottom of their head that they use to suck up clams, shrimp and small fish.
You’ll particularly encounter the White Sturgeon that’s the largest of the Sturgeon fish family roaming the Columbia River channels.
Sturgeon are busy, migratory fish. They travel from the Willamette River and Columbia River to make their way downstream in the Spring to the brackish lower Columbia River coast. Even going into the Pacific Ocean while patrolling the US west coast bays in search of shellfish and anchovies. They swim back up the Columbia in the Fall to spend the Fall and Winter in the fresh waters of Portland. May and June below the Bonneville Dam and Willamette River Falls the Sturgeon will spawn there eggs, before migrating back to the coast. Not all the Sturgeon will migrate. Some spend their entire lives in fresh water.
All sturgeon in the Lower Columbia River are designated as catch and release but the state of Oregon does allow limited retention periods. Check with the Oregon fish and wildlife agency for more details.
Be sure to check out the Sturgeon retention season that opens January 1st every year in the Bonneville Pool just east of Portland. It can be a great opportunity to bag a sizable sturgeon in the Columbia River.
Willamette River Guided Fishing
Middle and Coast Fork Willamette Rivers join to form the main stem Willamette River, which stretches 187 miles to drain into Columbia River. The Willamette River is river Columbia’s main tributary and accounts for approximately 15% of River Columbia water sources.
Willamette River Guided Sturgeon Fishing – All Year
To catch Sturgeon at any time of the year in the Pacific Northwest, visit the lower Willamette River that flows through the middle of the city of Portland. It’ll be your grand chance, especially for all you first-time Portland, Oregon Sturgeon fishermen to put your hands on one of these cool prehistoric fish.
That’s because the lower Willamette River is a Sturgeon rich stretch that runs from the Willamette Falls in Oregon City downstream through Portland’s metropolis all the way to the Willamette River’s intersection with the Columbia River.
The Willamette Falls and the large Willamette River system are habitats to large populations of Sturgeon, which also inhabits large portions of the lower Columbia River.
The lower Willamette’s fishing spots are under federal regulation to designate sturgeon as a catch and release fish to control its numbers in Portland and Oregon State at large. However, the fish and wildlife department allows a limited season of Sturgeon retention for anglers targeting Sturgeon on the Willamette river harbor, including the Multnomah Channel. A 44-50 inch slot limit is the norm during these short retention periods.
The Willamette has more than enough sturgeon for anglers who aren’t upbeat about letting go of their catch
Willamette River Guided King Salmon Fishing – Spring
The Willamette river plays host to one of Portland, Oregon’s best Spring Chinook or King Salmon fishing spots and fisheries. Anglers coming out for the early Spring Chinook Salmon start off the hunt in the lower Willamette River in late winter. There’s always a few landed by the hard core Salmon anglers in February and March.
The droves of Spring Salmon anglers then rush into the Willamette and tributaries deep into the Willamette valley in pursuit of the Spring Chinook April, May and June.
The best fishing point to catch King Salmon is below the St. John’s Bridge at the starting point of the Multnomah Channel where migrating King Salmon headed up Willamette River mix up with other Chinook. At the lower end of the Multnomah Channel near Scappoose, Oregon is another hot spot.
King Salmon in the lower parts of Willamette River such as the shipping lanes tend to go deeper into the cooler water as the water temps rise with the Spring weather. The currents aren’t strong enough for anchor fishing, so you’re better off trolling to catch King Salmon.
Before you hit the waters, ensure you have your angling license and harvest tag to fish Salmon.
Don’t forget to check the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife website for fishing restrictions in line with the Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations book. Be in the know of what the King Salmon forecast is to be able to comply with the fishing laws. Or you can always contact Hook’em Up Guide Service for all the latest regulations and forecasts.
Wilson River Guided Fishing
At about 33 miles long, the Wilson River cuts a river path all the way from the Northern Oregon Coast Range to the Tillamook Bay in Oregon State.
Wilson River Steelhead Fishing – January-March
Although not squarely in Portland, the Wilson River is close enough to the City of Roses to lure in anglers from all over Oregon and the rest of the US. It’s easily accessible along Highway 6 and has a great winter run of Steelhead.
Make plans for your Portland Oregon fishing charter to line up fisheries along the main fork of the Wilson River to the mouth of the South Fork that offers year-round fin-clipped steelhead fishing. The Nestucca and Trask rivers are nearby and add more opportunity for Winter fishing.
But for the Steelhead winter run in the months of January to March, it’s best to go with a guide who knows the rivers and how to navigate a driftboat safely downstream. Where to cast your bait and where not to is key in not snagging bottom and hooking into fish. It can be the difference between being frustrated or having a successful fun day on the water. Check out the walk in fishing spots along HWY 6, they can be very productive as well as floating the river.
Note that your Steelhead catches can be feast or famine. Timing and river levels are everything for this season to be successful. The Wilson and Nestucca rivers provide sizable runs of Winter Steelhead.
Steelhead fishing in the January-March period usually has high steelhead forecasts and is the best run for anglers looking to bag a big steelhead.
The Oregon state fishing regulations require Steelhead caught with an intact adipose fin be released unharmed back into the River Wilson watershed. Hatchery finclipped Steelhead can be retained. Typically, most rivers are a 2 fish per person daily limit.
Trask River Guided Fishing
The Trask River is one of five rivers to have the Tillamook Bay as its mouth, although Trask River also drains part of its waters into the Pacific Ocean after meandering through several logging stations in the Northern Oregon Coast Range.
Trask River Steelhead Fishing – January-March
The Trask River may be synonymous with Salmon fishing, but it also sports a superb run of huge, native winter Steelhead and some keeper hatchery Steelhead from time to time.
The Steelhead hatchery on Trask River accounts for a significant number of straying steelhead, especially during winter. Winter also doubles as the best time of year to hunt for Steelhead in Oregon, with your best chances coming in the winter months of January, February and the onset of March.
You can also chase after wild Steelies that have an intact adipose fin and which are often double-digit pounders. The wild fish are catch and release though, so should be released unharmed.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife ensures that the lower sections of the main forks plus the North and South forks are open during the Winter Steelhead season to retain optimal hatchery Oregon Steelhead numbers and control the catch and release Steelhead natives.
So why is winter the best time of year to go steelhead fishing in Oregon? Native Steelhead migrate into the Trask River at the beginning of January. The fish continue their migratory tendencies in River Trask in February and early March when they start to spawn. This steelhead phenomenon increases your odds steelhead catch and release angling.
Nestucca River Guided Fishing
The waters of the Nestucca River originate from the Northern Oregon coast Range. The river drains a timber-producing area of the range across Yamhill and Tillamook counties west of Portland before converging into the Nestucca Bay.
Nestucca River Steelhead fishing – January-March
Nestucca River or the “Big Nestucca,” as some Portlanders call it, has plenty of Steelhead swimming up and downstream all year round. However, the wintertime is best for steelhead fishing on River Nestucca because of the sizeable native winter Steelhead and the winter hatchery-breed Steelhead that are open and legal for anglers to harvest.
The proximity of the Nestucca River from Portland via several routes in the Oregon coast range make it a perfect fishery for any vacationer visiting Portland to explore the fishing scene.
What’s interesting is that Nestucca River has an extended Winter Steelhead fishing season that runs from late fall through early spring.
The Steelhead forecast in the Nestucca and Three Rivers fishing spots easily surpasses the 2,000 winter Steelies in one winter fishing season.
Smolts released from the Steelhead hatchery make the smaller Three Rivers streams and the lower Nestucca River near the confluence prime Steelhead fishing zones. The lower side of the Nestucca has little riverbank access and it’s advisable for anglers to drift from their fishing boats. Drift for Steelhead from the several Nestucca River fishing spots such as First Bridge, Cloverdale, and Farmer Creek Wayside.
Fish to Catch on a Portland Fishing Charter
Portland’s unsullied waters make it the go-to hub for anglers, boaters, and sightseers. Whether you hope to hook into a record-breaking King Salmon in the Spring or Summer. Or take on the battle of a prehistoric moster Sturgeon. Portland provides the ideal environment for your next fishing adventure.
Portland, Oregon boasts of a diversified array of wild and marine life. For instance, there are native Salmon and Steelhead that swim, reproduce, and grow on 127 miles of streams and waterways in Portland, not to mention the other over 20 fish species that swim the pristine waters in Portland.
What’s more, most of the rivers such as Clackamas, Sandy, Wilson, and Willamette are all less than an hours’ drive from Portland.
You can look forward to catching the fish species listed below and more:
Portland Coho Salmon Fishing
The Coho salmon is one of five salmon fish species in the Pacific Northwest. They’re also called “Silver Salmon” or Silvers.
Use drift fishing to catch Coho Salmon. Draw your fishing line and cast your bait upstream and let it drift downwards as the bait bounces with the current to lure the Coho.
You can also use plunk fishing where you cast your bait in a particular spot like a Coho salmon path and wait for the fish to bite.
Portland King (Chinook) Salmon Fishing
King Salmon or Chinook is the largest of the Pacific salmon fish family.
When fishing for Chinook in the Portland, Oregon area rivers use bait fishing. Opt for a combination of salmon roe and sand shrimp or any other bait of your choice. Now that you have bait ideas, choose between drifting and float fishing techniques with the use of bobbers.
Portland Sturgeon Fishing
The sturgeon is a large fish with characteristic bony plates on its body. It roams the temperate seas and rivers of the northern hemisphere, which explains its large presence in the Portland, Oregon rivers and waterways.
Use the good old rod, reel, and fishing line to hunt sturgeon. Use 7-foot medium to heavy-duty lines and avoid light tackle equipment when targeting oversized sturgeon.
Or go rigging with a heavy weight and strong leader to ensure your bait reaches the bottom where sturgeon lurk as they feed.
Portland Steelhead Trout Fishing
The steelhead are a silver-ish, migratory rainbow trout. They spend their juvenile years on the Pacific coast before swimming back inland in the rivers of Portland to spawn and spend their adult life in the freshwaters. They are called rainbow trout because of the metallic appearance that mature steelhead exhibit.
Fly fishing, bait and tackle angling, and steelhead jigging with bobbers and upward-facing hooks are all suitable steelhead fishing techniques in the Portland, Oregon waterways.
Why Choose Portland For Your Next Fishing Trip
Besides having the uniqueness of the Willamette River that offers steelhead and salmon fishing in a large metropolitan area, the numerous rivers, fish varieties and accessibility of Portland make it a top contender for the best fishing destination in the Pacific Northwest.
Portland Fishing is Close to the Airport
The airline ticket counter and the checkpoint hours at the Portland International Airport (PDX) vary, but the airport runs 24 hours, 7 days a week. So your flight plans should be flexible and hassle-free, whatever time and day you want to jet into Portland.
The airport lies squarely within Portland’s city limit south of River Columbia in Multnomah County. It seats 6 miles away from Portland city when accessed by air and 12 miles away if you’re driving northeast of downtown Portland.
You can also connect a direct flight to Portland from nearly all major US airports and direct international flights from places like Canada, Germany, Mexico, Iceland, etc.
You Can Catch a Variety of Fish
There can never be a shortage of fish to add to your list of trophy targets regardless of the time of year you plan on visiting Portland for your fishing adventures.
You can choose to hunt for the winter steelhead, chase after sturgeon any time of year, or hit the Willamette River fishing spots for a great shot at catching native salmon, such as the Coho salmon in the fall fishing season or the King salmon in the summer fishing months.
The great variety of fish and the Portland fishing calendar accommodate all sorts of fishing vacationers at any time of year you want.
There Are Lots of Rivers to Choose From
The Portland area has plenty and famous natural water resources that make fishing a popular leisure activity. Between the various lakes, ponds, natural dams, rivers, and other smaller waterways all over Portland, you can never lack a fishing spot to cast a line or set up your tackle.
So you’ve made the right call to place a booking call with a Portland, Oregon fishing guide to join in on the fishing action.
Why Choose Hook’em Up For Your Next Portland Fishing Trip
Fishing with Portland Natives
Not only are Hook’em Up fishing chaperones and captains well-vast in the Portland, Oregon fishing scene, but they are also Portland natives, tournament fishermen, and boast of unprecedented lake, ocean, and river angling expertise.
15 Years of Guiding Fishing Experience in Portland
Our captains have star-studded fishing reports and tend to guide some of the best Portland fishing charters year on year based on online customer reviews and firsthand accounts of anglers who’ve been on any of our charters before.
Full-time Fishing Guide (more experience and know where the fish are)
Hook’em up fishing adventures are planned and operated out of a private marina on the Columbia River. So think of Hook’em Up Fishing Guides for all your Columbia River fishing trips and fish species and you’re other fishing trip needs while vacationing in Portland.
Here you can book a fishing tour and learn more about the craft of fishing with one of Hook’em Up’s very own fishing guides.
2 Custom-Built Fishing Boats
What kind of Portland, Oregon fishing excursion are you planning? Whether you’re riding solo, or bringing your family or a bunch of fishing buddies Hook’em Up has got you covered.
We have two 26′ custom fishing boats. One of which has a top and windshield for your comfort. The other boat can be switched to a Jet boat to run the rapids and shallow water in the smaller streams. We also have a beautiful 18′ Clackacraft driftboat. For rowing down Oregon’s scenic rivers chasing Salmon and Steelhead. Our trips also come with the best fishing gear and tackle on the market.
The Oregon state marine board requires that all Portland fishing charters carry a maximum of 6 clients plus guide. But that shouldn’t be a problem if you plan on bringing multiple family and friends with you. We often do multiple boat trips with large groups.
Hook’em Up provides private fishing charters of any size group by availing two or more fishing boats and multiple boat trips for large groups.