2020 Best Baits for Oregon River Fishing


An experienced, knowledgeable Oregon fishing guide like Buddy Dupell, owner and guide of Columbia River Fishing Adventures, knows which baits are the best in every area and body of water, to increase your chances of catching the fish you’re after. “Many anglers use their favorite lures to try to catch the same fish at the same time of year, and in the same water. However, the reality is that live-bait fishing produces the highest catch rates, regardless of the fish you’re going for, particularly in the Columbia and Willamette rivers in Portland.”

Here is Buddy’s 2020 update of “best baits” for successfully catching sturgeon, salmon and steelhead in Oregon’s rivers:

For STURGEON: This fish is attracted to strong fish scents, so adding shrimp, or fish oil to your bait will make it more effective. In the Portland area, the top bait choices for sturgeon are shrimp, crawfish, smelt and herring. For large sturgeon, whole shad is considered an excellent bait. At times, sturgeon can be aggressive, and elusive biters, and very tough to catch without using fresh bait.

For STEELHEAD: Steelhead are highly territorial and instinctively go after free-floating eggs in their area. Some pros speculate that the fish are trying to protect their own roe from predators by picking up the “floaters” in their own mouths en route to their spawning locations. Whatever the reason, roe or eggs cured with sugar and krill are the most effective baits for catching steelhead during their runs. In the winter, steelhead are light biters and tend to hold bait in their mouths for a shorter time. If you are using a lure or plug, adding cured roe or sand shrimp to them can increase the time they spend in the fish’s mouth.

For SALMON: When fishing for salmon in Oregon’s rivers, sand shrimp and salmon eggs (salmon roe), are the ideal bait. Salt herring, anchovies and sardines are also good baits for salmon, as well as fresh-cut herring or other fresh fish with your hook of choice. When Chinook Salmon enter Oregon rivers to spawn, they go on an eating frenzy. The top bait choice for them is cured roe, but anglers also use a variety of lures to catch huge Chinook. Lures with shiny or metallic surfaces that attract light, colors like bright green and red, and downriggers or J-plugs, will yield good result with larger salmon.

You can access Buddy Dupell’s knowledge on using the right baits, lures and rigs, and which locations offer the best fishing throughout the year, by having him guide your next fishing trip. To book an exciting, guided Oregon fishing trip, contact Buddy anytime at [email protected], or give him a call at (503) 490-3099.



Leave a Comment