When you think of Portland Oregon, does salmon fishing on the beautiful Columbia River come to mind? In fact, this is one of the best fisheries in existence, and there is no better salmon fishing experience than the forthcoming spring Chinook season.

Why Spring Chinook?

There are two main reasons to seek a spring salmon charter on the Columbia: 1) the salmon are very tasty, and 2) it’s the last chance you’ll get until the summer run.

Culinarily speaking, it’s hard to beat salmon. There aren’t many fish that can hold a candle to a good salmon.

Of the three great seasonal waves of Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), the spring run are known to be particularly good eating.

The reason for this has to do with the fact that the spring run largely consists of stream-type Chinook, a distinct population which spends a longer time in freshwater before going to the ocean to become adults.

There are plenty of stream-type Chinook in the summer, too, but in the fall the ocean-type Chinook predominate. The ocean-type fish offer a perfectly fine sporting experience, but because of their very different life histories they do not have the same peerless taste as their stream-type cousins.

It’s also worth mentioning that spring Chinook salmon are fighters. That delicious taste comes with powerful muscles and fighting spirit, making for a particularly memorable salmon fishing experience.

The second key reason to charter a salmon fishing guide for the Columbia River is that after the spring season, there won’t be any more chances until summer. For 2018, the spring season was March 1 through April 7, and the summer season was set for June 16 through July 31, over two months later.

Five weeks may sound like a reasonably long time, offering plenty of opportunities to catch fish. However, not all fishing days are created equally: as any salmon fishing guide can attest, some are going to be better than others.

For reasons we’ll discuss below, it also makes sense to charter a guide if you want to have a good chance of hooking a fish. The area around this part of Oregon has a number of guides, but the best guides are going to all be booked relatively quickly, particularly for the best days.

If you want to maximize your chances of a successful trip, it makes sense to plan ahead and charter a guide as soon as possible.

The Fishery and the Surrounding Area 

It’s hard to beat the area around Portland Oregon as a salmon fishery. In addition to the abundant high-quality salmon, there is the natural beauty of the Columbia River and the surroundings: green forests, the snowcapped Mount Hood, and the impressive rock formations and cliffs of the gorge nearby.

Like all great fishing experiences, salmon fishing is about more than that thrilling moment when you hook a fish: it’s about the experience of a particular place, the anticipation leading up to that moment.

This is where the area around Portland shines. The natural beauty of the Columbia makes it an unbeatable experience, and the city itself offers practically anything one could want.

On that note, so long as you’re planning to be in the Portland area for the salmon, why not look around and make plans for the rest of your trip? The Portland area has outdoor activities, breweries, wine-tasting, and attractions of all kinds.

Making the Most of Your Experience

If you want to make the most of your Portland Oregon experience and increase the chances that you’ll hook a spring Chinook salmon, there are some important steps you can take, and some key things to keep in mind.

First and most obviously, make sure you have a fishing license. Since we’re talking about the Columbia, either a Washington state or an Oregon fishing license will work perfectly fine for the trip.

If you purchase a license online, print out and bring 1) the license page, and 2) the catch record sheet. Both are necessary if you are to fish.

Second, dress appropriately in layers. In particular, wear rain gear and warm clothing – out on the Columbia you will experience cold winds and cold water. Dress in layers, though, because the weather is notoriously fickle and prone to change, in Pacific Northwest fashion.

On that note, sun protection is also important, because sunlight will reflect from the water. A hat, sunglasses, chapstick, and sunscreen or sunblock are all advisable.

It’s also a good idea to bring a camera, since the fish you’re after are world-class, and remedies for motion sickness – you’ll be on a rocking boat out on the open water, after all.

Another very important step which is highly advisable for making the most of your trip is hiring a salmon fishing guide. The Columbia River is a very large river, and it is no simple thing to find the best places to fish.

A good guide will provide you with much more than a working boat and a knowledge of how to use a fish finder. Any guide worth their salt knows the parts of the river that are likely to yield fish, and how to follow the fish as they migrate through the river.

Moreover, a guide will help you maximize the chances of actually getting a salmon on the line with their knowledge of tackle, baits, lures, and everything else.

There’s a great wealth of experience that comes from fishing a river such as the Columbia over many years. A seasoned guide will know how to read both the river and the fish, ensuring you the best chance of a successful trip.

With a guide, all of the guesswork about where to go and what to do will be taken care of for you. This will provide you with the chance to actually enjoy your trip and the experience of hooking and catching some truly world-class fish in a setting of unrivaled natural beauty.

To find out more about how you can make the most of the upcoming spring Chinook run with an experienced guide who knows the fish and the river, please drop us a line.