Oregon Fishing

Oregon Fishing

A big, sprawling western state with fir-clad mountains and rustic desert scenery, Oregon fishing offers an unbelievably diverse experience. Every part of the Beaver State has something unique for the angler, and unlimited diversions for those that don’t fish. The western half of the state is home to ocean fishing and trout, but is best known for its legendary runs of salmon and steelhead. The eastern half is home to high desert and pine-covered mountain ranges and is world-renown for its trout fishing.

Oregon Fishing
The author with a summer steelhead taken in the White River Photo by Jeff Otto

The urban centers of Portland and Bend offer everything a traveler could want in the name of restaurants, resorts, and lodgings, while offering fine Oregon fishing right within their city limits. Each is an excellent jumping-off point for exploring the Oregon fishing opportunities.


This rising town boasts a wild-west heritage, and is surrounded by first-class trout fishing. The high plateau country is also the epicenter of Oregon’s fly fishing. Within a short drive from its streets anglers can find high mountain lakes and clear, cold streams bristling with rainbows, browns, cutthroats, mackinaw, and much more. Nearby deep water lakes offer boaters a chance at landlocked Kokanee salmon, as well as the native char, bull trout.

In winter well-bundled ice fishermen catch lots of fat yellow perch, crappie, largemouth bass and catfish in addition to trout.

Deschutes River

One of the best rivers for fly anglers in the west, it boasts strong runs of steelhead and resident redband rainbows. Two of its tributaries, the Metolius and the Crooked River, are blue-ribbon trout streams in their own right. Anglers can catch fine brown trout and quality rainbows from the Deschutes right in downtown Bend.


Located at the junction of two salmon rivers, Portland is a quirky, multi-cultural city with a hint of sophistication, and every kind of entertainment you would want, from music to food or theatre. The Willamette River produces one of the best spring salmon runs in the state, a run that compliments those of the Columbia River.

Columbia River

The storied Columbia has undergone a revival and now boasts great runs of salmon and steelhead, as well as smallmouth bass, and

Oregon Fishing
: Scenic photo of a sunrise over the Columbia River Gorge Photo by Terry Otto

walleye.  The warm water species are under-fished and offer true trophy opportunities. However, it’s the salmon that make the Columbia shine. Spring Chinook salmon show in March and are treasured for their fighting ability and un-equaled as table fare, and every “springer” landed is a cause for an Oregon fishing celebration.

Native American tribal efforts have resulted in nearly a half million sockeye returning to the Columbia’s tributaries every year, and they join big runs of summer steelhead for fine fishing all summer. Autumn brings runs of Chinook and Coho salmon, runs that have recovered well from the hard days. In the best years returns of each species can top one million adults.      

Snake River

The Snake is one of the most scenic trout and steelhead rivers in the state. Both the fishing and scenery peak in the remote Hell’s Canyon, where steelhead, brown trout, cutthroats and more lurk in the runs and glides.

White Sturgeon

Populations of sturgeon from the Columbia River to California are struggling, and retention has been cut to the bone and eliminated in places. Oregon fishing is still available, catch and release, for oversized sturgeon meaning anglers can still catch a freshwater fish that is larger than them, it will be many years before this fishery fully recovers.

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