Oregon has nine fishing zones that combine to create a mosaic of opportunity. Freshwater or saltwater, trout and salmon or bass and crappie, neighborhood ponds or remote mountain lakes – Oregon has a fishery to appeal to every angler.
Trout fishing opportunities abound in this zone, known for its high desert climate, sage-covered canyons, glacial peaks and mountain lakes. Anglers will find year-round trout fishing in the Deschutes, Metolius, Fall and Crooked rivers, while several central Oregon lakes and reservoirs are renowned for their trout and kokanee fishing – and their beauty. The Hood and lower Deschutes – both tributaries of the Columbia River – offer high desert fishing for Chinook salmon and summer steelhead.
The Columbia River is renowned for its salmon and steelhead runs. In a year of good returns, over 1 million Chinook, coho and sockeye salmon, and summer steelhead travel up the river to spawn in its tributaries. Less known are the river’s excellent smallmouth bass and walleye fisheries. While most anglers fish this large river from a boat, there is plenty of good bank access at various parks, boat launches and beaches.
Oregon’s beaches, bays and ocean waters have more kinds of fishing than anywhere in the state. From chasing surfperch in the… well, surf, to hooking cabezon from a rocky jetty, to going deep after rockfish and halibut, to the line-screaming runs of an albacore tuna, this zone offers a species and fishing technique for every angler.
The granite peaks of Oregon’s Blue and Wallowa Mountains form the backdrop for many of this zone’s glacier-carved lakes and crystalline streams. Bull trout thrive in this zone’s cold, clear rivers, which also sustain whitefish and rainbow trout, and welcome returning runs of hatchery-reared steelhead. Chinook salmon travel over 300 miles up the Columbia to spawn in rivers such as the Imnaha and Wallowa. Warmwater fisheries are few, but the John Day River offers world-class fishing for smallmouth bass.
A dozen great rivers pour out of the Coast Range Mountains into tidal bays that welcome runs of salmon and steelhead. Bays are the year-round home to marine perch, rock fish, crabs and clams, while other species come and go with the seasons and tides. A handful of ponds dot the forested slopes, and there are dozens of dune lakes— many stocked with rainbow trout, and some harboring largemouth bass, perch, crappie and brown bullhead.
The Snake River and its impoundments offer first class fishing for warmwater species such as channel catfish, crappie and smallmouth bass. That part of the river running through the spectacular Hells Canyon Wilderness may have some of the best summer steelhead fishing in the state.
Wide open spaces, wild windy places, and extreme temperatures characterize Oregon’s largest, most remote fishing zone. Redband trout are native to its rivers and streams, including the Williamson, Malheur and Chewaucan. Brown and hatchery rainbow trout can grow to trophy-size in many of its lakes and reservoirs, many of which also feature crappie, yellow perch and bass.
There is year-round salmon, steelhead, trout and smallmouth bass in the Southwest Zone. Rainbow trout are stocked in the upper Rogue River and in lakes nestled among fir forests and wind-swept dunes. Big reservoirs provide fishing for trout and for thriving populations of largemouth bass, catfish, perch and crappie. Coastal bays serve as gateways to rich offshore reef fisheries, and miles of public beach allow anglers to fish for surfperch against a backdrop of rugged capes.
Abundant rainfall feeds the massive Willamette River watershed, tamed by a system of reservoirs that are stocked annually with hundreds of thousands of rainbow trout. Some of these reservoirs also grow trophy-size largemouth and smallmouth bass, as well as bluegill, brown bullhead and crappies. Smaller lakes and ponds nearer the valley floor provide springtime trout fishing close to home. Salmon and steelhead navigate the Willamette River and its tributaries, many of which are also home to rainbow and cutthroat trout.