Willamette River

Info about the Willamette River in Portland, Oregon

The most popular places to fish

The Willamette River is the most popular. The Columbia River from the mouth where it flows into the Pacific Ocean all the way to the Canadian border in the Roosevelt Lake stretch and all spots in between like Umatilla River,  the Hanford reach area, Buoy 10, Westport, Astoria, Bonneville dam, Vernita bridge, the Dalles, Hood River, Portland, Oregon, Vancouver, Washington, Tillamook Bay area is very popular for fall Chinook and huge king salmon from August through November. Salmon weighing over 50 lbs. are not uncommon in the fall and lots run well over 20 and 30 pounds. Buoy 10 is one of the most popular fisheries. Limits of cohos are caught here every day. Lots of boats of every kind and every rig imaginable. There are plenty of RV parks in the area and boat launches as well as fishing guide services. If catching lots of fresh salmon is what you like to do best fish Buoy 10 and see why everybody who has ever fished here returns every year.

Willamette River is host to runs of Shad, good sturgeon fishing, walleye and smallmouth bass fishing. Take scenic trips up and down this popular waterway on huge jet boats that hold over 100 passengers. The Willamette is most commonly fished from below the falls at Oregon City and Milwaukee, Oregon, past the Clackamas River to the Columbia River near St. Helens and across the river from the mouth of the Lewis river. Puget Sound: Clean fresh northwest air and lots of salmon fishing opportunities. Pacific Ocean: Halibut, Tuna, deep sea fishing, bottom fishing and charter boats offer full day and half day trips for every type of fish you could imagine. coastal rivers and streams of the Tillamook Bay region such as the Wilson, Trask and Siletz rivers are home to fabulous salmon fishing, crabbing and steelhead.

Willamette River Sponsors

Big Fish Guide Service offers full day fishing trips on the Columbia River for Salmon, Steelhead and Sturgeon, Fall Chinook, Spring Salmon, Kings and Coho in the Portland area and popular nearby rivers up to John Day dam. While on a spectacular fishing experience with Big Fish Guide Service, you will enjoy the comfort of our 20' Alumaweld Super Vee boat, powered with a 125 H.P. Mercury outboard which safely accommodates 2 to 4 passengers. From just east of Portland, Oregon, on the Columbia River, upriver to John Day Dam and no matter what you are after, the search for Chinook salmon or the fight of monster Sturgeon, whatever your adventure is, it will sure be an unforgettable experience.

Guide Service Northwest

Brad Hadfield of “Guide Service Northwest” has been fishing the Columbia & Willamette Rivers for 20+ years. His years of experience have given him the expertise needed for fishing Salmon, Sturgeon and Steelhead. Brad fishes the Columbia River from the Ocean to Bonneville dam depending on where the fish are, so you can be assured a great experience!

Fisherman's Marine & Outdoor

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N.W. Sturgeon Adventures

We offer 1/2 and full day sturgeon trips on the Scenic Columbia and Willamette rivers in Portland, Oregon or just minutes away. We run a fully covered and heated custom 2006 22ft Alumaweld for your comfort and safety. With over 25 years fishing for sturgeon, I can guarantee you a fun filled adventurous day. Sturgeon is the ONLY thing we fish for so if you want to fish for Salmon, Steelhead, Bass, Carp or Catfish you'll need to find another fishing guide service. If you want to fish for Sturgeon contact N.W. Sturgeon Adventures for the best STURGEON FISHING ONLY experience you'll find.

Oregon Fish And Wildlife


Washington Fish & Wildlife


Willamette River, Lower: The Willamette River below Willamette Falls in Oregon City is open for adipose fin-clipped chinook salmon and adipose fin-clipped steelhead year-round. Fair numbers of spring chinook and good summer steelhead are anticipated this spring and summer. The lower river and sloughs are also a great place to find warm-water fish, including bass, bluegill and walleye. Special Regulations for walleye specify a 10 walleye per-day limit, and no more than five walleye per-day can be over 18 inches and only one may be over 24 inches. Trout are not stocked into this portion of the river. Use of bait is allowed in the lower river. Also keep in mind that the Willamette River regulations have recently changed under a temporary rule.

Bank fishing from Meldrum Bar is very good.

Willamette River (downstream of Willamette Falls)

•March March 1 through March 15 open seven-days-a-week
•19 – April 30 open three-days-a-week (Thurs. – Sat.) for spring chinook, and open for retention of steelhead under permanent rule for the remainder of the week (Sun – Wed)
•The daily bag limit will be two adult adipose fin-clipped salmon or steelhead, but only one may be a chinook
These rules apply to the Willamette downstream from Willamette Falls, including Multnomah Channel and the lower Clackamas River downstream of the Highway 99 Bridge.

Willamette Tributaries

The Willamette River, upstream of Willamette Falls and the Clackamas River upstream of the highway 99 bridge will remain open under permanent rules
•The Commission also approved permanent rules that set a 2009 recreational sturgeon season on the Columbia and Willamette Rivers as follows:
In the estuary below the Wauna powerlines

•January 1 through April 30, seven-days-a-week
•May 9 through June 28, seven-days-a-week
•July 2 through July 5
•38-inch minimum fork length January through April, 41-inch minimum fork length remainder of season
From Wauna Powerlines to Bonneville Dam (including the lower Willamette River)

•Retention is allowed three-days-a-week (Thurs. – Sat.) during the months of January through March and October through December
•Retention prohibited August through September
Bank fishing for sturgeon can be found at Meldrum Bar and at the wall in downtown Oregon City as well as Kelly Point Park at the mouth of the Willamette River. Sturgeon anglers have been using frozen smelt, herring, or sand shrimp as effective bait. As in any fishery, anglers are reminded that all sturgeon released should be done so unharmed.

Willamette River above Willamette Falls: Upstream to Hwy 20 Bridge at Albany is open for adipose fin-clipped chinook salmon and adipose fin-clipped steelhead for the entire year. It is open for coho salmon the entire year. The use of bait is allowed.
Willamette River, Mainstem: Prospects should be excellent for native cutthroat and rainbow trout upstream of Corvallis. The stretch of river above the highway bridge at Albany to the highway 99 bridge at Harrisburg opens April 25 to the harvest of trout with at limit of 5 fish per day, 8-inch minimum length; bait allowed. Trout angling is restricted to catch-and-release/artificial flies and lures between the Hwy. 99 Bridge at Harrisburg and the mouth of the McKenzie River. There are also excellent opportunities throughout summer for smallmouth bass, crappie, and bluegill in the Willamette River from Salem to Willamette Falls.

Spring Chinook Caught on the Willamette River
-Oregon Fish and Wildlife-

Willamette, Middle Fork, below Dexter Dam: ODFW anticipates spring chinook and summer steelhead will arrive in peak numbers during May and early June, although a few will be caught before then. Most anglers target the area from Dexter Dam downstream to Pengra Boat Landing; however, during May anglers with boats catch spring chinook from Pengra Landing downstream to the confluence with the Coast Fork Willamette. The forecasted number of Willamette spring chinook at Dexter Dam is a bit higher than in 2008, so commensurate with the rest of the Willamette River and its tributaries, the daily bag limit has been reinstated to two adipose fin-marked chinook per day. Summer steelhead will remain available through the fall. Summer steelhead prospects also exist in the “town run” on the mainstem Willamette from Beltline Bridge to the Coast Fork of the Willamette. Only adipose fin-clipped salmon and steelhead may be harvested in the Willamette and Middle Fork Willamette from the mouth of the McKenzie to Dexter Dam.

Anglers should be aware that a new angling regulation is in effect for the Middle Fork Willamette River this year that allows the retention of unmarked steelhead greater than 24 inches. The regulation will allow the harvest of mismarked and naturally reproducing summer steelhead. Summer steelhead are not native to the basin and harvesting these fish before they spawn will be a benefit to wild rainbow trout. Although native rainbow trout over 24 inches are extremely rare, anglers who happen to catch one are encouraged to release them unharmed.

Willamette, Middle Fork, from Lookout Point Reservoir to Hills Creek Reservoir: Open to angling all year with lures and flies. This is a wild trout area and all non-adipose fin-clipped trout must be released unharmed. Up to five adipose fin-clipped trout may be retained per day. These hatchery fish originate from upstream stocking locations.

Willamette, Middle Fork, upstream of Hills Creek Reservoir: The Middle Fork Willamette above Hills Creek Reservoir will be stocked with 1,350 fish by April 25; anglers must use lures or flies and may only keep trout with an adipose fin clip.

Willamette, Upper, tributaries: Salmon Creek above Oakridge (2,000 fish), Blue River above Blue River Reservoir (1,500 fish), Fall Creek (2,000 fish) near Lowell, and the Coast Fork Willamette River (1,500 fish) in Cottage Grove. The Alton Baker Canoe Canal has been stocked regularly since February and should be fishing well.

The South Willamette Watershed District will host a free youth fishing event at the Alton Baker Canoe Canal on Saturday, May 16 from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event is part of ODFW’s Youth Angling Enhancement Program, designed to introduce young people to the fun of fishing. The Department will provide all angling equipment and instruction necessary. Information including the Easy Angling Oregon booklet will be available to participants. Contact the Springfield field office at 541-726-3515 for additional information.

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