The Willamette River meanders through the fertile Willamette Valley through such wonderful cities as Portland, Oregon and Eugene, Oregon. The Willamette River is also home to some of the best spring chinook fishing that takes place in Portland and the entire state of Oregon! Although sturgeon, steelhead, coho, bass, walleye and a small fall run of chinook can all be experienced while Willamette River fishing, the most sought after species is by far the spring chinook salmon.
The spring salmon begin their Willamette River migration as early as January but effort for the best tasting salmon that swims doesn't actually peak until the months of March, April and May. These spring chinook are favored by so many in the Portland area for their fine flavor which comes from their high fat content (the good fat- omega 3) due to the amount of time they reside in fresh water before they spawn.
Most of these salmon average between 12 and 25 pounds but salmon in the 40 pound range are taken each year. Willamette River fishing for chinook and steelhead takes place not only in the Portland area but upriver towards the mouth of the Clackamas River and even upstream of Willamette Falls in the Salem and Eugene areas! Anglers may expect to catch 1 to 6 salmon on an average day with a fishing guide if conditions are ideal but for most spring chinook anglers, the average is closer to 20+ hours before results are seen! On a good year, run sizes for spring salmon on the Willamette are better than 100,000 fish!
Other area rivers: Clackamas River, McKenzie River, North Santiam River, South Santiam River and Columbia River.