There are several ways to begin your fishing journey – you can join a friend or family member on their fishing trip, you can attend a free ODFW fishing event, or you can strike out on your own (don’t worry, you can do this). In this article you'll find out what gear you need and where to go fishing in Oregon, along with a few basics of the sport.
If you’re ready to dive in with both feet, an annual fishing license is the most economical. If you’re not sure fishing will be your thing you can opt for a daily license.
There are rules for fishing in Oregon so be sure to check the regulations before you head out. First, read the general rules for the zone you’ll be fishing in, and then check to see if there are any special rules for the lake, river, stream or pond you plan to fish in that zone.
At first glance, Oregon’s fishing regulations (which cover trout, salmon, steelhead and warmwater fish) can appear a bit overwhelming. However, if you’re targeting a specific species or water body, the regulations become much easier to comprehend.
ALWAYS check the regulations (book or online) for any special regulations for the place you will be fishing.
Ok, you’ve decided to go fishing– now you’re going to need some gear.
Rods, reels and lines
Most modern rods are made of graphite and come in a variety of lengths and actions. Longer heavy action rods are good for casting large lures to large fish, while shorter lighter action rods excel at putting smaller lures in front of small fish.
Bait and lures
In Oregon, some water bodies allow the use of bait and others are restricted to artificial flies and lures. Be sure to check the regulations before you go fishing.
Weights, bobbers, hooks and swivels
You’ll need a handful of other tackle items to put all the pieces together and make your bait or lure “fish” the way you want it to. You’ll see how everything goes together in the next section.
For bait fishing, pick up:
For lure fishing, it’s a little simpler – get a package of size 7 or 9 swivels. These will allow your spinner or spoon to spin freely in the water without twisting up the fishing line.
Depending on how you rig your bait or lure, you might also need a leader. This is a piece of monofilament that goes from your main line to the hook or lure, often with a swivel in between. You can cut off a piece of your main line to use as a leader, or buy special leader material on a spool.
Attend a free Family Fishing Event. We’ll supply all the gear you’ll need to fish and even show you how to use it. Come by yourself or bring the whole family. Most events are held in the spring at locations throughout the state. The 2018 calendar will be posted in February.
Take yourself fishing. Can’t find a Family Fishing Event convenient for you? It’s easy to get started on your own. Here’s how:
Every angler should know how to tie at least two knots:
Use the improved clinch knot to tie hooks, swivels and spinners to your fishing line.
Use the surgeon’s knot to tie two pieces of line together.
Cast out to a likely looking spot and wait for the bobber to wiggle, dive or jerk- set the hook and reel in! This is a good technique when fish are cruising near the surface, or when you want to keep your bait suspended above a weed bed.
Cast out to a likely looking spot. The weight will sink to the bottom while the bait will float up and hover 1.5 feet above the bottom. There's no bobber to help you sense a strike, so when you feel a tug on the line - set the hook and reel in!
Cast a spinner to a likely looking spot. Let it sink for a minute and begin reeling it in- called retrieving. Vary the amount of time you let the spinner sink and the speed of your retrieve until you find the right combination. When fishing a spoon, lift and drop the rod tip so the spoon rises and falls - called jigging. When a fish strikes, set the hook and reel in!
Begin by casting the spinner slightly upstream and reel in any slack line. As the current carries the spinner down river, use the rod to lift as much fishing line off the water as you can to achieve a “natural” drift. Once the spinner has swung toward the shore and is straight down river, begin a moderate retrieve. Spoons can be a good choice in deeper water where they can be “jigged” –after casting, lift the rod up and then let it down so the spoon rises and falls in the water. Be sure to keep your line slack free. When you retrieve a spoon, reel in a little slower to give the spoon better action.
Cast slightly upriver with just enough split shot on the line to get the bait within a few inches of the bottom. Once the bait has swung toward the shore and is straight down river, reel in and cast again. Sometimes adding a bobber will help you keep track of where the bait is drifting, and help you detect a strike.
Though some waterbodies are only open during certain dates, there are several lakes, rivers and streams that are open year-round.
Easy Angling Oregon describes 101 fishing spots throughout the state selected especially for families and newcomers.
Don’t have much time and want more choices closer to home? Check out our 50 Places to go Fishing… series.
ODFW stocks over 7 million trout each year for anglers to catch. Find out where those fish are going from the trout stocking schedule.
Get weekly updates on local fishing conditions from the ODFW Recreation Report.
Have additional questions about where to go or what the regulations are? Don’t hesitate to call your local ODFW office – they’re there to help you.
Header photo by Rick Swart
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