7 Popular Fish Species In The Columbia River: Where To Fish Them

Fish Species In The Columbia River

The largest river in the American West is the Columbia River. Fishing opportunities are also greatly increased by it. The most well-known fish species in the Columbia River are salmon, chinook, coho, sockeye, trout, sturgeon, and bass.  

These are the fish you will probably encounter in the waters, whether you intend to travel alone or with friends on a fishing charter. You can discover more about the fish species found in the Columbia River by reading this article.

Popular Columbia River Game Fish

Most anglers who travel to Oregon for the purpose of fishing are hoping to catch well-known fish like salmon, trout, and sturgeon. Fortunately, fishing on the Columbia River offers excellent opportunities all year long.

Although they are fairly simple to catch, it is important to be aware that the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife has very strict regulations regarding the fish.

Consider the seasons of the year during which they can be caught, the minimum size requirement, and other factors that may have an impact on your catch. 

Chinook Salmon

The Chinook salmon, which is the largest of all salmon varieties, is known as the “King” of salmon for a reason. In the spring, summer, and fall, you can locate them in the Columbia River. However, there are more to be caught in the fall. Chinook salmon are frequently at their largest during the summer. 

If you’re visiting the Columbia River, Chinook salmon are a “must-catch” because they’re among the tastiest fish around.

Coho Salmon

In the summer, you may start to notice some coho salmon mixing with chinook salmon, but it’s in the fall that their populations really start to increase. The Columbia River is without a doubt the best location to fish for coho salmon.

You will need to be more patient with this fish because coho salmon are somewhat wary when being lured in.

Sockeye Salmon

It is likely that you will catch one or two Sockeye salmon while salmon fishing on the Columbia River during the summer. If you’re in town, these colorful fish are a great way to start the salmon season because they have red bodies!


One of the biggest and most thrilling fish to catch on the Columbia River is the steelhead. In the summer, when they are more plentiful, your chances of catching this lovely fish will be better.

Just be sure you’re willing to put in the effort to reel this powerful fish in!

Fish Species In The Columbia River


Perhaps the most popular fish in Oregon is trout. Additionally, you can catch trout all year long in the Columbia River due to the wide variety of species there.

Make sure you research the types of fish and their locations before casting a line in the Columbia River. The fishing for trout in Oregon may also be subject to some additional rules.


The Columbia River is home to two types of sturgeon: the Green sturgeon and White sturgeon. While sturgeon are readily catchable year-round in Oregon, the White variety is more common. Any fishing trip would be exciting if you caught one of these unusually long and bony fish! 

Smallmouth Bass

The Columbia River contains a variety of these small fish. Smallmouth bass fishing should be simple if you’ve experience with largemouth bass fishing. Many of the same techniques used to catch largemouth bass also work for its smaller cousin.

In the winter, they tend to congregate near ledges and boulders, making them more difficult to catch. Use smaller lures than usual if you want to catch some smallmouth bass. 

Fishing Areas In The Columbia River

Although rules governing the Columbia River can differ depending on the specific section, there are a few terms that can help you comprehend some of the general areas mentioned when discussing the river and its fisheries.

The river crosses four of the six geographic management regions under the WDFW. 

Columbia River main stem

The Columbia River itself is referred to as the “mainstem.” There are hundreds of tributaries that feed into the Columbia River, but they are typically managed as separate fisheries, and the term “mainstem” is only used to refer to fisheries that take place in the Columbia River itself.

Buoy 10

In the late summer, when many salmon migrate from ocean areas into the mouth of the Columbia River to start their journey upriver, the Buoy 10 fishery, which is situated where the Columbia River empties into the Pacific Ocean, is a well-liked location for salmon fishing.

Because of its location between a river and the ocean, the Buoy 10 fishery should not be taken lightly. In order to participate in this fishery, a suitable watercraft that is in good working order is required. 

Lower Columbia

The region between Buoy 10 and Bonneville Dam, which is situated at river mile 146, is commonly referred to as the “lower Columbia.” The phrase “below Bonneville” is also frequently used to describe this section of the river.”


Typically, this refers to the portion of the river (also referred to as “above Bonneville”) that runs between the Bonneville Dam and the McNary Dam. It can also refer to the stretch of the Columbia River between Bonneville and the point where the Highway 395 Bridge spans it near Pasco, Washington; this is roughly where the Snake River and the Columbia meet, and it also marks the point at which Washington and Oregon both have concurrent fishing regulations on the main stem of the Columbia River.

Upper Columbia

This refers to the substantial section of the Columbia River that is located above the McNary Dam or Highway 395 Bridge in Pasco and flows through the remainder of Washington before eventually crossing into Canada.

WDFW is responsible for overseeing fisheries on the upper Columbia in Washington.

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