When Can You Fish for Salmon in Oregon?

When planning a fishing excursion in the Pacific Northwest, specifically Oregon, if salmon fishing is on the itinerary, it is essential to know what species are in season to plan accordingly. While salmon are abundant in the region, fishing seasons for the different types of salmon vary.

When Are Ocean Salmon Regulations Finalized?

Whether planning a late-season getaway or preparing for a trip next year, it is always good to know when ocean salmon regulations finalize. Establishing these regulations begins in late February when the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) adopts a preferred alternative.

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) usually announces the final rule in late April and publishes it in the Federal Register. The effective date is May 1, beginning a new “salmon year.”

Factors that help these agencies determine the final rule include the results of stock abundance surveys, input from treaty tribes, recreational and commercial fishing groups, and the public. The PFMC also considers the impact of ocean conditions, such as El Nino cycles, on salmon abundance when making their decisions.

Generally, the following April concludes the salmon year.

Chinook Salmon Seasons

Chinook salmon, or king salmon, run for three seasons in Oregon: Spring, Summer, and Fall.

Each season has different sport fishing regulations as Chinook abundance and distribution vary throughout the year. For example, Spring Chinook, the largest of the three, is found in the lower Columbia River. There are also Summer and Fall runs of Chinook to go after.

June Hogs, a run of Summer Chinook, are the second largest and can be found in both the ocean and rivers. Finally, silver salmon, or coho, is the smallest of the three and is also found on the Columbia River and are particularly popular to fish for near Buoy 10 in Astoria.

River Fishing For Chinook Salmon

River fishing offers opportunities to fish for all three runs of Chinook salmon. The Columbia River is an excellent place to start as it has Spring, Summer, and Fall Chinook seasons. Fishing for Fall Chinook in the lower Columbia River also opens in late September and continues through December 31.

During the autumn months, anglers can take advantage of the large numbers of silver salmon entering coastal rivers. The Columbia River is another solid bet for catching these feisty fish that can grow to over 20 inches in length.

Bag limits and size restrictions vary depending on the river, season, and salmon species. Always check regulations and the salmon fishing guide before heading out to ensure you stay on the right side of the law.

Ocean Fishing For Chinook Salmon

Anglers who prefer to fish for Chinook Salmon in the ocean’s open waters will appreciate the fisheries’ long season.

It’s worth noting that regulations and areas open to fishing can change throughout the season as managers respond to changes in fish abundance and distribution. The best way to stay up-to-date on these changes is to sign up for emails or texts from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW.) As a visitor, you might consider working with a professional guide or booking a fishing charter and leaving these details to the captain and mates.

Both recreational and commercial fishing for Chinook salmon in the ocean falls under annual catch guidelines.

These guidelines, set by the PFMC, cap the limit of certain fish to be caught without adversely impacting the population. In addition, the ODFW follows specific guidelines to determine how many fish recreational and commercial fishermen can keep and when fishing areas must close.

Planning Your Trip

Salmon fishing is a one-of-a-kind experience that any angler is sure to enjoy. However, the best way to ensure a successful and enjoyable trip is to do your homework, so you know what to expect.

For instance, remember that weather conditions can be unpredictable if planning an early spring or late fall trip. Be ready for the potential of cold and wet weather and possible high winds.

All anglers 16 years of age and older must have an Oregon fishing license to fish for salmon in the state’s rivers and ocean waters, so getting this paperwork before your trip is a must. Licenses can be easily purchased online or at any ODFW office, and both residents and non-residents have the option to buy a 1-day, 5-day, or annual permit.

If you’re new to fishing for salmon or want to increase your chances of success, consider working with a professional guide or booking a charter with Portland Oregon Fishing Adventures. Our experts can provide you with the gear, bait, tackle, and boat. Most importantly, we have the experience and passion needed for a successful day on the water.