Portland Oregon Fishery
Columbia  River

 

Portland's rivers and streams are one of the best Salmon and Steelhead fisheries in the world. There are few big cities 70 miles inland, where you can catch fresh fish just days out of saltwater.  Each year is different as far as how many fish return from the ocean. Some years it's a lot, some years the numbers are low.  With Sturgeon in the river all year,  there's always something to fish for.  The Columbia borders Washington & Oregon and is the 4th largest river in the U.S..  It receives over a million Salmon / Steelhead each year from the Pacific Ocean, which head upriver to spawn.  On clear days you can get a beautiful view of Mt. Hood.

Willamette River

This River runs right through the heart of Downtown Portland,  It has a good run of Spring Chinook Salmon and Sturgeon.  The river flows into the Columbia R. just 5 miles from Downtown.  The mouth is a productive & popular Sturgeon / Salmon angling area.  The Willamette R.  generally has less visibility than the Columbia and is usually a bit warmer.  It is the 19th Largest river in the U.S.

 

Chinook Salmon Life cycle

Chinook Salmon begin their lives in the freshwater mountain streams of the Pacific Northwest.  Whether in Hatcheries stream side, or wild fish breeding and depositing millions of eggs on the bottom of the rivers.  These baby salmon, known as fry, stay in the freshwater stream for 1-3 years.   Their mortality rate is low from predators and the everyday stress of living in a mountain stream.  Approximately 1 out of a thousand survive and return as adults to spawn.  They live on, Just trying to survive long enough to then make the long journey to the Pacific Ocean.  The Spring rains come and help push the 5-12 inch Salmon Smoltz out of their streams and into the Columbia River, where they flow to the Ocean.

Once in the Ocean the Salmon become the hunter as well as the hunted.  They travel in large schools chasing bait balls of Herring, Squid, Anchovies, Sardines and other bait fish.  They mostly travel up the coastline to wards Washington, Alaska, and Canada searching for food.  They live in the Ocean for 2-5 years, the longer they stay the BIGGER they get.   As their internal reproductive cycle starts they realize it's time to go back home, so they migrate their way back to the Columbia River.  They school up at the mouth of the Columbia River,  feeding vigorously to put on fat layers.  Chinook Salmon don't feed in freshwater so they need to put on weight to sustain them for the long journey upriver and the spawning process.  Both Spring and Fall Salmon spawn around the same time, but enter the river system at different times.  The Spring run arrives Feb-May and Fall run Aug-Nov ( Portland area ).  Spring fish spawn in the upper sections of streams, the Fall Salmon in the lower.

*Spring Chinook Salmon*- The Spring Salmon must put on more fat than the Fall Salmon does.  It will need the extra energy to survive a long summer and fall while living but not eating in the river system.  The reproductive organs will be small and underdeveloped when caught.  All this extra fat (omega 3 oils) makes the meat practically melt in your mouth.  It is a very rich and flavorful Salmon.  This is the reason people take the Spring Chinook Salmon so seriously.  Commercial fisheries can sell this fish to high end restaurants all over the world for $20-$50 a pound.  Fall Chinook Salmon (King) are generally a bit larger, they're a great eating Salmon just not as rich as the Springers.  Salmon have an unbelievable sense of smell, and can smell the difference between one stream and another.   They swim up the Columbia River in search of the stream they were born / lived in.  After they find it they wait at the mouth for rain.  When the river level is high enough they swim back up to their parents spawning grounds.  Within feet of where they were born, they lay their eggs and fertilize them.  The Salmon then die and the Frye (baby Salmon) feed off the carcass' for their first few months of life.  Then 1-3 years later they swim to the Pacific Ocean.

As the Salmon swim up the Columbia River on the way to their spawning ground,  this is our opportunity to catch them.  Because they don't feed in freshwater this can be difficult.  The longer the fish are in freshwater the more lockjaw they seem to have.  Meaning they're less apt to bite/strike.  Most of the fish in the Portland area were in the ocean eating bait fish just 2-7 days prior to seeing your bait/lure.  This is good, Some of them can't resist that bait twirling in front of them.  Frustrated and angry they grab it and grab it hard, trying to kill it.  Then it bite's them back! with a hook ... FISH ON!

 

The wildlife along the rivers includes:  Bald Eagles, Ospreys, Herons, Geese, Ducks, Owls, Diving Birds, Pheasants, Gulls, Red Tail Hawks, Deer, Otters, Seals, and Sealions

www.nwp.usace.army.mil/op/b/fishcam.asp Click on this link to get fish counts and watch the fishcam at Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River

Tides.Info: Tide Predictions for Vancouver, Columbia River, Washington

*Get Tidal information for the Columbia River, click on this link

Tides.Info: Tide Predictions for Kelley Point, Oregon

 

 

Tide Predictions from Tides.Info

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