Fishing in Oregon

An Angler’s Guide to Fishing in Oregon

If you enjoy fishing, you’ll LOVE fishing in Oregon. 

With 363 miles of coastline, more than 1,400 named lakes, over 114,000 miles of rivers and streams, and more federally designated wild and scenic river segments than any other state, there are countless fishing experiences to be had in Oregon!

With so many great fishing destinations and types of fishing to choose from in Oregon, it can be difficult to narrow down your choices. In this blog post, we’ll go over important local fishing regulations and share more than 20 top fishing spots to help you plan your next adventure fishing in Oregon. 

An Overview of Fishing in Oregon 

Dozens of species of game fish can be found in Oregon, making the local fishing scene incredibly diverse and exciting. Although trout is the most popular among Oregon anglers, our state also has many world-renowned salmon and steelhead runs, smallmouth bass fisheries, and marine fishing opportunities along the coast. 

The diverse scenery in Oregon is almost as enticing as the abundance of fish! Whether you prefer to fish lakes, rivers, oceans, reservoirs, or fisheries, Oregon truly has it all. And you don’t have to travel far to find the best spots. Even just within the Portland area, there are so many great destinations for boat fishing, shore fishing, and fly fishing. 

Do You Need a Fishing License in Oregon? 

Yes. In Oregon, anyone over the age of 18 must purchase a fishing license, as well as appropriate tags or endorsements. Licenses are valid for one year, from January 1st to December 31st. 

You can buy a fishing license from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (ODFW) electronic licensing system. Alternatively, you can buy a license from an ODFW office that sells licenses or an ODFW license vendor. An annual angling license currently costs $44 for Oregon residents and $110 for non-residents. 

The only time you don’t need a fishing license in Oregon is during the state’s Free Fishing Weekends. On these designated days, you don’t need a license (no license, tag, or endorsement) to fish, crab, or clam anywhere in the state of Oregon. The first weekend in June is Oregon’s traditional Free Fishing Weekend, but there are several other free and sponsored events each year. 

What Age Do You Need a Fishing License in Oregon? 

Again, anyone over the age of 18 must purchase a fishing license. Youth between the ages of 12 and 17 need a special $10 Youth License that includes all fishing, hunting, and shellfishing licensing as well as the Columbia River Basin Endorsement. 

Children under 12 years of age do not need a license to fish or shellfish, so you can bring your little ones along for free and get them into fishing from an early age! 

If you’re looking to get your kids involved in fishing, there are many great family fishing events throughout the year across the state of Oregon. This is a great way to introduce young anglers to the sport of fishing as the ODFW provides equipment and instruction for free. 

What age do you need a fishing license in Oregon

Additional Oregon Fishing Regulations

Having a valid fishing license isn’t the only fishing regulation to be aware of in Oregon. Some of the most important additional regulations include: 

  • Size and creel limits: There are size and creel limits for many species of fish. For example, in the Northwest Zone, anglers can keep no more than 2 wild adult Chinook salmon per day.
  • Closed seasons: Some species of fish have closed seasons when it is illegal to catch them. For example, the steelhead season in Oregon typically runs from October to December.
  • Bait restrictions: Some bodies of water have bait restrictions. For example, anglers fishing in the Willamette River are not allowed to use bait that contains corn.

It’s important to note that Oregon Sport Fishing regulations are organized by fishing zones, with six different zones (Northwest, Willamette, Central, Northeast, Southwest, and Southeast) spanning the state of Oregon. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the specific zone regulations where you plan to fish. 

For a complete list of regulations, check out the latest Oregon sport fishing regulations through the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. 

Salmon Fishing in Oregon 

Oregon is a popular destination for salmon fishing, with a number of rivers and streams that are home to salmon, plus a long coastline where salmon return to spawn. In 2021, a whopping 1.5 million pounds of salmon were landed or caught in Oregon! 

There is a wide variety of salmon fishing to be discovered in Oregon, including boat fishing, shore fishing, and fly fishing. Chinook, coho, steelhead, sockeye, pink, and chum salmon can all be found here in Oregon.  

The prime time for salmon fishing in Oregon is during the fall and winter when salmon are migrating back to their spawning grounds. 

Below are some of the most popular salmon fishing spots in Oregon: 

  • Columbia River 
  • Willamette River 
  • Rogue River 
  • Umpqua River
  • Clatsop Spit 
  • McKenzie River 
  • Nehalem River 
  • Tillamook Bay 

Top Spots for Fishing in Portland, Oregon 

Even in the urban areas of Portland, fishing opportunities abound. Here are some of the most popular spots in the Willamette Zone: 

  • Willamette River: The Willamette River flows through Portland and provides excellent fishing opportunities for various species such as salmon, steelhead, sturgeon, bass, and trout. There are public fishing docks, parks, and boat ramps available along the river.
  • The Mouth of the Clackamas River: A popular spot for salmon and steelhead fishing, with several public access points where anglers can fish from shore or launch a boat. 
  • Hagg Lake: Largemouth bass, crappie, and trout can be found in this large reservoir near Forest Grove, including rainbow trout, brook trout, and brown trout. 
  • Trillium Lake: If you’re looking for great scenery, this picturesque lake in the Mount Hood National Forest is stocked with rainbow trout that you can fish from the shore or a small boat. 
  • Sauvie Island: This large river island northwest of Portland is a popular spot for salmon, steelhead, and sturgeon fishing. 
  • Troutdale: Located on the Columbia River, the city of Troutdale (less than 30 mins from the heart of Portland) has several parks and piers that are popular for salmon and steelhead fishing. 
  • Springwater Corridor: A popular spot along the Willamette River in the heart of the city of Portland that is home to a variety of fish including trout, bass, and panfish. 
Fishing in Portland Oregon

Best Fishing Near Salem, Oregon 

Travel a little further south of Portland on I-5 and you’ll find some of the best fishing spots off the beaten path. Here are some of our favorites in the Mid-Willamette Valley: 

  • Detroit Lake: Located east of Salem, Detroit Lake is a popular destination for fishing and water recreation. The lake is known for its excellent trout, kokanee salmon, and bass fishing. 
  • Santiam River: The Santiam River, which flows near Salem, provides excellent fishing opportunities. It is home to a variety of fish species, including salmon, steelhead, trout, and bass. 
  • Foster Reservoir: Situated east of Salem, Foster Reservoir is another fantastic fishing spot for trout, bass, and catfish. 
  • Willamette River: The Willamette River, mentioned earlier, is accessible from Salem and offers a range of fishing opportunities. Anglers can target salmon, steelhead, sturgeon, bass, and other species at various access points and parks along the river.
  • Minto-Brown Island Park: Located within Salem, Minto-Brown Island Park has several ponds and sloughs that are stocked with trout and offer excellent fishing opportunities. The park has trails, picnic areas, and fishing docks so you can make a day of it! 
  • Silver Creek Reservoir: Silver Creek Reservoir, southeast of Salem, is known for its trout fishing. It is regularly stocked with rainbow trout, making it a popular destination for anglers.
  • North Santiam River: The North Santiam River, a tributary of the Santiam River, is another good spot near Salem for salmon, steelhead, and trout fishing. 

Your Home Base for Fishing in Oregon: Silver Spur RV Park & Resort 

While you’re fishing in Oregon, come stay with us at Silver Spur RV Park & Resort in Silverton, Oregon. We’re conveniently located off of I-5, less than an hour from Portland, less than 30 minutes from Salem, and close to almost all of these incredible fishing spots! 

We have full-hookup RV sites, a cabin, a family bungalow, and authentic teepees (seasonal) available for rent. We even have stocked catch-and-release fishing ponds here at the park so the fishing fun never has to stop!