Best Fall Fishing on Oregon’s Columbia River

Oregon has some of the most spectacular cold-water fishing in North American, in any season. The mighty Columbia River is every avid fisher’s go-to location for Fall Chinook salmon, sturgeon and winter steelhead, and is a dream destination for a world-class fishing experience of a lifetime. The best fall runs of these prized fish occur along the Columbia River and are easily accessed from Portland.


The Columbia has the best early fall fishing for large sturgeon. Once fall begins, the biggest sturgeon can be found between the Bonneville Dam and Longview, above Portland, since many of the biggest specimens spawn below Bonneville Dam, north of Portland.

Sturgeon is a spectacular catch,  getting one is almost guaranteed on any given day, especially if you’re looking for a “monster.” The key is knowing when and where to find them in each season. This is where an experienced fishing guide is indispensable.

Columbia River Fishing Adventures offers expertly guided fall fishing trips. Guide Buddy Dupell, has more than two decades of experience Guiding the Columbia River near  Portland. In addition to his expertise on the Columbia, he knows the best fall fishing spots on the Willamette, Clackamas and Sandy Rivers near Portland for salmon, steelhead, sturgeon and walleye.

Fall Chinook Salmon

The biggest Chinook salmon run of the year happens in the fall. Fall Chinook enter Oregon streams in early September and spawn from October to March. With less than 40 miles of river to navigate to their natal spawning sites, they remain bright after traveling the short distance.  After entering freshwater, they change color from silver to brown.

The runs of Winter King Salmon, the least-known variety of Chinook, enter Oregon rivers after November rains and peaks in mid to late December.

Winter Steelhead

Winter steelhead migrate into freshwater in late fall and early winter when they are closer to reproductive maturity. The fall runs of steelhead are generally larger than their summer-run relatives, and they spawn shortly after entering their natal streams. Some steelhead will continue to migrate well into spring.

Steelhead put up a mighty fight with fishers, so catching one is often the result of being patiently persistent. Many anglers who come to Oregon for fall fishing are attracted to the prospect of an exciting battle with a hard-fighting winter steelhead. For the best guided fall fishing trips in the Portland, Oregon area for salmon, steelhead or sturgeon, contact Buddy Dupell, owner and guide of Columbia River Fishing Adventures, at (503) 490-3099, or email him at [email protected].

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