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Here at The Guide’s Forecast, Columbia River fishing reports are created from professional fishing guide’s genuine experience on the Columbia River and real time information gathering. If you want the most up to date fishing information on when to fish in the Columbia River and what to use to catch those fish, you are in the right spot.
Columbia River fishing reports
Find our latest free Columbia River fishing report along with our weekly summary for Oregon fishing here.
Fishing reports for the state are updated weekly and cover the state. The Columbia River fishing reports are updated weekly when the seasons align. With restrictions and migrations, some weeks may not have reporting.
Get the most up to date and complete Columbia River fishing reporting regularly. Subscribe to the free weekly fishing report here. Or get the in-depth reporting that members receive including our Columbia River fishing reports by becoming a member. Both our Oregon membership and our SW Washington membership provide access to the complete and most up to date Columbia River fishing reports and forecasts anywhere.
Salmon Fishing on the Columbia River
It is estimated that at one time the Columbia River had returns of salmon somewhere between 13 and 17 million wild fish. Although the river in its current state may see returns of 2 million fish in a good year, it is still the strongest fishery for salmon in the lower forty-eight states! The Columbia River has enjoyed healthy returns of hatchery and some wild salmon. The first place these fish become available to the sport angler is the mouth of the Columbia River near Astoria, Oregon.
The Guide’s Forecast has produced several Columbia River salmon fishing webinars so you can incorporate the techniques provided in these videos with the Columbia River fishing reports to be as successful as possible.
In addition to helping you catch more fish, we want you to be safe out there. Please, wear a life jacket and have a plan. Even the most experienced boaters have found our free webinar on bar and ocean safety valuable.
Where to fish for salmon on the Columbia River
Buoy 10 is one of the most popular places to fish for salmon in the estuary. This buoy is located at the mouth of the Columbia. It is the westerly boundary for the river fishery. This area is most productive on the incoming tide, and it is recommended being there at least an hour before low slack tide to be most successful.
Buoy 14– Just upstream from buoy 10, this spot can produce sporadic action. This is usually the first place a guide might stop and fish when the tide is still going out.
The Tunnel – This tunnel is seen from the water on the Washington side. It is right off Chinook Point in Fort Columbia State Park. It is more of a location indicator than an actual spot to fish.
The Church – Like the tunnel, this is another location indicator as you are trolling downstream with the current on the Washington side.
Desdemona Sands – This is the giant sandbar that stretches from just upstream of the Astoria/Megler (A/M) Bridge for several miles downstream to the town of Chinook.
The Bridge – This is the Astoria/Megler Bridge. You will see heavy concentrations of boats fishing the Washington side in the deep channel.
Bank fishing – The river has a lot of promise for bank fishing. There have been times when stronger catches off the beaches than that of the boat fishery have occurred.
Our weekly Columbia River fishing reports provide detailed information on locations that are working well and should work well for the coming week. Be sure to sign up for our free weekly fishing report email.
How to fish for salmon on the Columbia River
Fishing for salmon can be an exciting and rewarding experience. Different salmon species behave differently and have distinct migration patterns, but here are some general tips to get you started on how to fish for salmon:
Trolling herring with divers – It is likely that 95 – 99 percent of the anglers that fish in this area employ this method. There are many types of divers to select from. The difference between the divers is usually the depth at which they will dive.
Trolling herring with lead – Some guides believe that lead is the way to go. The reason for this is because when a fish grabs your herring trolled with a diver, the diver trips, and it often takes the bait out of range where the fish hit the bait. This is not true for lead anglers; the bait stays in the zone where the fish hit it.
Mooching – Not a highly practiced technique for salmon in the estuary but it certainly has its place. The time when this technique can pay off the most is right around tide change.
Hardware – I know some guides that have had good (but sporadic) results with hardware. Wobblers and spinners both take fish.
Bait – Without a doubt, the most widely used bait in this fishery is herring. Most guides use the frozen herring in Blue label packaging. This bait is preferred by guides because of the quality of scale retention versus the fresh herring. Fresh herring will work fine, especially for coho but for chinook, the frozen baits, with their better scale shine, seem to produce better in the deeper water. The frozen baits are also easier to rig.
In addition to our weekly Columbia River fishing reports, the webinars below go deep into these topics, often providing two hours of detailed discussions with professional fishing guides. We offer a money-back guarantee on everything at The Guide’s Forecast so there is NO risk for you, our customer.
Are they catching salmon on Columbia River?
The best way to find out when successful fishing is occurring is to subscribe to our weekly report. When the fishing is on, we share it through our Columbia River fishing reports. Subscribe to our free version here or look at becoming a member. You will find additional information at the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Sturgeon fishing on the Columbia River
The Columbia River estuary produces some of the best sturgeon fishing and catches of quality white sturgeon for anglers to enjoy. Often caught in the shallows of the estuary, these fish provide an excellent fight for anglers of all ages.
Where to fish for Sturgeon on the Columbia River
There are scores of locations that are productive for sturgeon in the estuary. There is no real pattern for sturgeon activity in this section, but here we will outline some of the most popular areas to target sturgeon below and above the Astoria Megler Bridge.
Easiest to reach from Hammond Boat Basin
Estuary sturgeon fishing in the Columbia River is the entire lower river downstream of Tongue Point on the Oregon side. This section of the river is by far the most productive section of the river, accounting for three quarters of the total lower Columbia River catch below Bonneville Dam.
Trestle Bay– This shallow water bay is located just downstream of Hammond on the Oregon side.
Desdemona Dolphin– This is the single piling structure located due north of the Hammond entrance. It marks a sandbar at the west end of Desdemona Sands.
Desdemona Light– About three quarters of a mile downstream is another dolphin. It is the light that marks the bottom end of Desdemona Sands.
Seal Island– Along Desdemona Sands across from Point Adams Packing Plant is a seal haul-out. It is only exposed on an outgoing tide.
Desdemona Sands – Desdemona Sands is a large sandbar that runs from above the Astoria Megler Bridge downstream below Hammond.
Easiest to reach from Warrenton Boat Basin
Below Astoria Megler Bridge, WA side of shipping channel
Below A/M Bridge, Oregon Shoreline “Port Docks”
Mouth of Youngs Bay “Stink Hole” – It really does not stink here but this spot has maintained its name for a long time.
Downtown Astoria – This is deep water and close to the shipping channel.
Taylor Sands – This big sand bar is located due north of the East End Mooring Basin.
Below Bridge, OR side of WA channel – To get to this spot, you must either cross Desdemona Sands near high tide or go around the sands from below Hammond or upstream of the bridge.
Blind Channel– This is the channel on the Washington side.
Incorporate our Columbia River fishing reports with the recorded online seminar below to make your fishing trip as productive as possible.
How to fish for sturgeon on the Columbia River
Sturgeon are primarily bottom feeders, and they have a diverse diet that includes fish, crustaceans, and other aquatic organisms. Some common baits used for sturgeon fishing include squid, herring, salmon eggs (roe), sand shrimp, and nightcrawlers. It’s a promising idea to use scent to attract them, as sturgeon have a keen sense of smell.
You’ll need to keep the bait on the bottom so use enough weight to accomplish this. Withi the river moving, you will have to adjust accordingly.
In the lower part of the Columbia River, you are fishing for keepers and not the giant fish. Using lighter gear makes catching them a lot more fun. If you are hunting the big ones, be sure your gear is heavy enough to manage things safely.
Sturgeon are known to have a delicate mouth, so it’s important to use the right rigging. One popular rig for sturgeon fishing is a sliding sinker rig. Attach a heavy sinker on the mainline, followed by a swivel to prevent the sinker from sliding down to the bait. Tie a leader (usually 3 to 5 feet long) to the other end of the swivel, and then add a strong, sharp hook at the end.
Remember that sturgeon fishing is always highly regulated, and seasons and size limits can vary depending on the location. Be sure to check local fishing regulations and guidelines to ensure you’re fishing responsibly and sustainably.
The technical report below goes into a great amount of detail on lower Columbia River sturgeon fishing. If you want more information on the topic, detailed maps, and an understanding of how to actually hook and bring a sturgeon to your boat, this is a must have.
When to fish the Columbia River
The big question, when? Start with the regulations. Fishing regulations are modified with some regularity as current information is gathered throughout the season. So, pay attention! The Guide’s Forecast provides updates as they become available but even then, they can be updated between the time they are updated and the time you read it.
When to go fishing on the Columbia River
Keep up to date on the seasons and when to head out by reading our Columbia River fishing reports regularly. Subscribe to our weekly fishing reports here. Or get the deep reporting our members get including our Columbia River fishing reports by becoming a member. Both our Oregon membership and our SW Washington membership get access to our complete reports and forecasts.
Columbia River guided fishing trips
For those who are new to the area or want some expert guidance, numerous fishing guides and charter services operate along the Columbia River. These guides can offer insights into the best fishing spots and techniques. The Guide’s Forecast’s own Bob Rees and many of the reporting sources are professional fishing guides. You can find more out about Bob here or book a trip or find another guide by filling out the contact form at the bottom of this page.
What can I fish for on the Columbia River
The Columbia River is known for offering diverse and exciting sport fishing opportunities. The river stretches over 1,200 miles and flows through multiple U.S. states and Canadian provinces, providing ample space for a variety of fishing experiences. In addition to the salmon and sturgeon fishing have already discussed, here are some of the key highlights of sport fishing on the Columbia River.
Walleye Fishing: The Columbia River offers excellent opportunities for catching walleye. This species is a favorite among anglers for its delicious flesh and challenging fight.
Bass Fishing: Smallmouth and largemouth bass can be found in various sections of the river. Bass fishing is particularly popular in the lower reaches of the Columbia River.
Trout and Steelhead Fishing: Aside from the anadromous steelhead that migrate to the ocean and return to spawn in the river, there are also resident trout populations that can be targeted by anglers in certain areas.
Fly Fishing: The Columbia River and its tributaries provide abundant opportunities for fly fishing enthusiasts. Targeting steelhead and trout with fly rods is a popular activity in many sections of the river.
What is the forecast for the Columbia River salmon and steelhead?
Here are a couple of resources for forecasts.
- Columbia River Basin Fish Returns and Forecast for 2023
- States set 2023 Columbia River summer/fall salmon and steelhead seasons
- Columbia River Adult Salmon & Steelhead Returns: Actual and Forecasted
- Columbia River reports, forecasts, returns, and fishery plans
Visit The Guide’s Forecast website to access a wealth of resources, including webinars, technical reports, and weekly fishing reports. Start by signing up for the free fishing report to stay updated on the latest fishing information and improve your chances of success. Visit this link to sign up.