Oregon Spring Salmon
The Prized Fish of the NorthWest
Columbia & Willamette Rivers
Tillamook & Nestucca Bays
Oregon Spring salmon are some of the most highly sought after fish we have in the Oregon Rivers. What makes spring salmon so prized is their flavor. They are packed full of Omega-3 fatty acids, and it’s this fat that makes this particular salmon so delicious to eat.
Oregon Spring Salmon are a strain of the Chinook Salmon. These fish are also known as King Salmon, Tyee Salmon and Black Mouth Salmon. No matter what you call these salmon they are all considered the most coveted of all species of salmon in the Oregon Rivers.
Spring salmon need to have such high fat content due to the fact that they come into the rivers in the spring, but don’t spawn till the fall. Once in the rivers, salmon do not feed, so the fat will sustain them while they make their way to the spawning grounds, which are sometimes hundreds of miles away from the ocean. For instance Salmon in the McKenzie River and Santiam Rivers in the lower Willamette valley come into Oregon through the mouth of the Columbia River.
Columbia River Spring Salmon Fishing
The Oregon Columbia River Spring Salmon season starts each year around the last week of March. It normally lasts through the first week of April, and some years into the second week of April depending on river conditions and run size. I fish the Columbia River from below Bonneville Dam all the way to the Longview area. I tend to stay near the St. Helens area to spring salmon fish, but where ever the best fishing is happening is where I will travel.
For this fishery, I primarily troll herring with flashers but depending on the year and water conditions I will use other methods. These fish range in size from 8-15lbs, but it’s not uncommon for Columbia River fishing guides to catch fish in the 20lb range.
Willamette River Spring Salmon Fishing
Immediately following the Columbia River closure, I start my Willamette River spring salmon guide season. Fishing here normally lasts until the first week of May. I fish a large section of the Willamette River; down river of the falls which is in Oregon City all the way to the mouth of the Willamette River and throughout the Multnomah Channel. This can be an ideal fishery for those looking for a spring salmon fishing guide near Portland, as I try and stay close to the Oregon City area. But, I will move around depending on conditions and where the fish are on certain days. These are the same great eating fish as the Columbia River and are comparable in size. I fish many techniques for this fishery: trolling herring or prawns, back-trolling eggs, or back-bouncing eggs and shrimp.
Tillamook Bay & Nestucca Bay Spring Salmon Fishing & Garibaldi Bottom Fishing
The start of my coastal spring salmon guide season starts around the second week of May. For this fishery I charter trips out of Garibaldi for Tillamook Bay fishing and out of Pacific City for Nestucca Bay fishing. This is a long season that typical last from the beginning of May through the end of June. These are by far the biggest spring salmon of the year. The average size of coastal spring salmon is between 15-20lbs, but Tillamook Bay Fishing Guides are known to catch fish weighing 30+lbs every year. The primary fishing method for this fishery is trolling herring. This time of year we tend to have ideal ocean conditions, which allows me to fish the ocean just outside Tillamook Bay. When ocean conditions allow, I will combine bottom fishing with the Tillamook Bay spring salmon trip. This makes for a very hands on and exciting experience. The smooth ocean conditions and constant bottom fishing action makes this an ideal fishing trip for kids who want to catch lots of fish. Lingcod and rockfish are caught at depths of 50-120ft, so you are sure to stay busy reeling in all those fish! These are great eating, white, flaky-meat fish. If you’re not being picky, it is not uncommon to catch limits of bottom fish in well under an hour, which allows you to spend the rest of the day chasing the prized spring salmon.