Spring Chinook Salmon Fishing on the Willamette River, Oregon

The Columbia River opened back up for spring chinook fishing, so my friend John and I decided to try the Willamette River on Saturday to avoid the crowds. We launched John's North River at the Swan Island boat ramp shortly after 7 AM. The weather was overcast with occasional sun breaks and light wind. The water temperature was about 48° and still pretty turbid. The ramp was not crowded, nor was the river.

From the boat ramp we ran upriver to the Steel Bridge and slowly back-trolled to the St Johns Bridge. We were using herring behind a flasher and 8 ounces of lead about 14-15 feet out. John and I were both using Shimano Tekota 500LC reels, so it was easy to adjust how much line we had out. We fished for over six hours without a single bite. We didn't see any fish caught and everyone we talked to had the same luck.

John Steering the Boat while Trolling for Salmon     Trolling for Salmon with Shimano Tekota 500LC Reel

Since the bite wasn't on, I took advantage of the down time to take a few pictures along our path. The trees along the bank were showing signs of spring and geese and cormorants were out and about.

Trees on the Shore Getting their Leaves     Lone Honker (Canada Goose) Following the Boat

I took pictures of the five bridges as we trolled past them several times. We witnessed the railroad bridge lift and lower to let barges pass underneath.

Fremont Bridge     Broadway Bridge
Steel Bridge     St Johns Bridge
Railroad Bridge 5.1     Railroad Bridge 5.1 - Raised

Even though we came home empty-handed, it was still a fun fishing trip. I would rather be out on the river than at work, so any day fishing is a great day. I suspect the water will get better over the next few days as only light rain is in the forecast. The river should clear up a bit and hopefully the bite will be on. Until then I will have to settle for chicken for dinner.



water, Mon, 04/11/2011 - 19:18

Not even any hits? Attribute to the water still being murky? any day out fishing is a good day, but its nice to get at least a bite. I haven't delved since I haven't really gotten into anything but the micro alpine trout, but are there any type of fish counters? would be interesting to know if the fish were there but just not biting, vs. not really there.

Cheers! great fishing, hope for better fishing next time!


jloomis, Mon, 04/11/2011 - 19:59

Not even a single take down. The conditions just weren't ideal. Here is a link to fish counts, http://www.fpc.org/currentdaily/HistFishTwo_7day-ytd_Adults.htm.

water, Wed, 04/13/2011 - 15:10

are these count totals based on fisherman reports or some sort of DNR fish weir type thing?

I meant to say in my first comment, great fishing, hope for better catching next time. har-har-har...good fishing, terrible catching.

jloomis, Thu, 04/14/2011 - 05:27

The fish counts are not from fisherman reports. They are from ODFW at various fish passages sites. I recommend visiting the one at Bonneville Dam as their is a large viewing window where you can watch fish swim by.

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