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Oregon Fishing: Deep Sea Fishing and Cold Water River Fishing
Oregon offers a fantastic diversity of environments and species for those who fish there. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife split the state up into 9 “zones” of fishing, with each one offering unique experiences and species to target. These zones include the Willamette, Southeast, Southwest, Northwest, Snake, Marine, Northeast, Central, and Columbia zones.
The directional zones are easy to identify, and the Snake, Columbia, and Willamette zones are named after famous rivers in Oregon, and the Marine Zone is where you’ll find amazing surf and offshore fishing for species such as halibut, rockfish, and tuna. Some of these zones do overlap.
We’ll be covering the saltwater experiences to be had as well as some of the best river fishing in the nation in the Rogue River and the Columbia River.
Saltwater Fishing Oregon
The Oregon Coast is not only known for its great fishing, but also for its striking beauty. With rolling dunes and pristine beaches, it’s a perfect backdrop for a perfect day of offshore or surf fishing.
Perhaps the most interesting fish to catch off the Oregon coast is the halibut. Halibut is claimed by many to be the best eating fish to be caught off the northwestern United States coast. Halibut are caught in deep waters, at 800 feet or more in-depth at times, and more than 20 miles offshore. Some popular launch points for halibut fishing are Astoria and Newport.
Astoria can offer the best of both worlds since it also offers access to the Columbia River, which we’ll cover later. Astoria is one of the few places where you can catch not only halibut but also tuna and lingcod, perhaps the three most popular Oregon saltwater species that anglers target. If you’re looking for a location that has it all, you’ll want to start with Astoria.
The halibut will be striking from May to September. Since they’re such a popular fish, you’ll only be able to catch one halibut per person. Many will fish for halibut by trolling using spoons and salmon rigs. The best place to fish for halibut off of Astoria is past the edge of the Astoria Canyon, where waters will plunge.
Many local Oregon anglers say that the best place for halibut fishing in the state comes out of Newport. Although Astoria might offer you more diversity and less competition, Newport is where the halibut come easier. Halibut also generally don’t prefer sandy bottoms and search for rocky bottoms and shelves.
There is a “ranch” called Chicken Ranch, which has high traffic and some mixed reviews. There is a rock pile 12 to 17 miles offshore that can have some luck in July, and Halibut Hill is a more popular spot all summer long. The bottom line is that halibut are not easy to catch, and they are certainly a hit or miss fish and, for that reason, they’re all the more prized.
There are many different species of fish to catch in Oregon’s rivers and along its Pacific Coast. A few of these are:
River Fishing Oregon
Rogue River is well known for its rainbow trout stocking in the upper portion, in addition to its incredible salmon runs. This is in part due to the removal of many dams along the river corridor to allow these fish to spawn easier. The river begins from the Cascade Mountains, going south to Lost Creek Lake, and further south to the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.
Salmon can be caught on the Rogue River in the spring in the upper portion near Shady Cove beginning in May. During the fall, the best salmon fishing will be found in the lower portion of the river. Many will fish for salmon using a weight that bounces off the bottom and drifting.
If fishing for steelhead, the summer serves as the perfect time to fish, especially near Lost Creek Dam, and anywhere that the water is flowing well. You can fly fish for steelhead or you can use a slip bobber above a worm near the bottom of the river. Spoons and spinners are also popular steelhead fishing methods, as are trolling plugs.
Some great summer spots for steelhead are Casey State Recreation Site and Rogue Elk Park. In the winter, you’ll find steelhead in the lower portion of the river. Release locations and dates vary, but they’ve been known to be released in locations such as TouVelle around August.
You can’t talk about Oregon fishing without remembering to mention the Buoy 10 fishing area of the Columbia River. You can start fishing here from August to September, with great chinook salmon early in the season and coho salmon fishing later in the season, and colder tides often bring more salmon.
You’ll want to fish higher in the water column through incoming tide and fish the bottom as the tide goes out. Columbia River fishing is largely influenced by the tides.
There simply isn’t enough time to talk about all of the Oregon fishing opportunities that exist, but we’ve covered some of the biggest. Oregon is a wild and scenic state that has great fishing and beautiful views. You’ll be awestruck by Oregon’s nature and you’ll look back fondly on some of the best fishing you’ve ever had.