When it comes to fishing, Oregon is a very underrated place. All you have to do is either ask the locals or any official from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. The state even has opportunities for year-round fishing, with options for catching trout, salmon, steelhead, and plenty of warm water as well. Moreover, it doesn’t matter whether you select a local pond or a premier destination, you really can’t go wrong with some of the fishing selections in this state. Of course, if you a true sportsman and don’t want to pick just any spot, here are some of the options that have the best reputations:
- Necancium River
- Deschutes River
- Diamond Lake
- John Day River
- Nestucca River
- McKenzie River
- Multnomah River
- Umpqua River
- Williamson River
The Necancium River is the first option on our list, and it is located near the town of Seaside on the lovely Oregon coast. The Necancium River has become well-known for its steady supply of the winter steelhead breed.
They are often available in the Thanksgiving months, as that is usually the time when the hatcheries first start gearing up. The stream starts to brim with this breed because the hatchery will get truly beefed-up with the battlers at this time. If you are able to catch a steelhead during this time, you should not only consider yourself lucky, but you also should ensure that your camera has a solid timestamp as well; the steelheads are usually not plentiful until around December to February. Usually, Christmas time and the first couple weeks of January are prime steelhead fishing season on the Necancium.
The supply of winter steelhead on the Necancium will usually number between 500 to 700, but there are some years where the population will even reach upwards of 1,000. Summer steelhead isn’t quite the best on this river, but every now and then an angler might land one; just don’t try to target them on purpose or you might be disappointed.
The Necancium is also a good river for trout fishing, especially of the Chinook variety. As a matter of fact, most seasons will see a harvest of at least a few hundred or more. These will usually be present in the waters from October or early November when the stream is flowing well.
Of course, the biggest problem with fishing for Chinook Salmon on the Necancium is that they do not have a solid spring Chinook run. However, most of the locals agree that there are some good spots along the river to fish for this breed. One of the most notable spots would be the Big Spruce Hole located at Klootchie Creek Park. As far as general salmon go, they have a solid trout stream when the season is in session. You can expect to catch a decent amount of salmon from late May until October. Not only that, but the native cutthroat trout can be found all year long!
Besides trout and salmon, the Necancium River also has many opportunities to catch ocean species such as perch and flounder. This fishing spot is easily accessible from Highway 26 and 101, and there are many public fishing spots available. However, do be aware that some of the better spots are on private property, so you will have to ask permission first before going into these areas.
The Deschutes River is truly one of the best-kept secrets for fly fishers who are focused on the Pacific Northwest. This is because it is over 250 of pure fishing goodness, with a wide variety of great fly fishing spots. You can truly spend your whole entire life just doing fishing on this one river.
First of all, because the Deschutes River is so long, it can be divided into at least three different sections. It is comprised of the Upper, Middle, and Lower portions of the river. The Upper Deschutes definitely has some solid draws, simply because this component of the river system winds through snow-capped peaks, unique forests of pine trees, and grassy meadows. This part of the river is home to many unique populations, including loads of rainbow trout, brook trout, and even a decent amount of mountain whitefish as well. Once you make it to the Crane Prairie Reservoir, you will encounter an extremely healthy amount of Brown Trout. However, do keep in mind that the season for Brown Trout is quite short. Consult the authorities for more information.
Of course, that is just the first part of the Deschutes River. The middle part of it is available through the city of Bend, you will see an immense amount of water available for fishing in this portion. You will also quickly notice that the Middle Deschutes is good for attracting species that you wouldn’t normally come across. Be aware that the best times to fish within the middle part of this river would be April, May, or June.
The lower part of this river is appealing as well. It features an immense amount of both Wild Trout and Steelhead. The Lower Deschutes is also rock-solid when it comes to trout because they feature a population of over 3500 trout for each mile, making the lower portion of this river one of the best trout fishing opportunities within the entire state of Oregon. The yearly return of the summer Steelhead makes this portion of the river not stand out within Oregon, but within the entire western portion of the United States as well.
Diamond Lake is one of those Oregon fishing spots that do well with one particular fish species, and that would be the Rainbow Trout. Diamond Lake has even established a reputation for being one of the crown jewels of Oregon’s family trout lakes. Diamond Lake also has a famous insect population that continues to regain steam even though they were recently severely grazed down by the chubs.
Diamond Lake actually makes its home in the North Umpqua River drainage area just east of the town of Roseburg. The game wardens continue to stock this lake with fingerling trout that will pack at least an immense inch or more during their fishing season. Diamond Lake is truly rainbow trout fishing at its finest. One of the main reasons why Rainbows are so popular is because they are a very hardy trout species. They often will survive a winter very well, and they often will grow to an immense size. Moreover, part of the reason why Roseburg’s Diamond Lake is so popular is that anglers will often be able to catch Rainbows of at least 12 pounds or more.
If you decide to give Diamond Lake a try, you should be aware that it is highly illegal to fish with live minnows at this lake. Part of the reason for that is because live minnows have a tendency to aid in the population explosion of chubs, which are a fish species that is invasive to the Rainbow trout population. They game and wildlife department has been attempting to remedy this situation by stocking a sterile “tiger trout” breed since 2016. During this same time span, they have also engaged in electro-fishing and netting in order to keep the Rainbow population healthy.
Other factors to consider when going to Diamond Lake would be the tiger trout and brown trout within these waters. Oregon’s wildlife department released these tiger trout and brown trout in the hopes that they would do an aggressive feeding on the invasive small fish such as golden shiner minnows and chubs. So far, the plan is working, but for a sportsman, there is obviously one dominant question: can you catch these tiger and brown trout? The answer to that question is yes, but state officials have mandated that you must release them if they are caught.
You also should be aware that Diamond Lake has become an increasingly popular area for Oregon ice fishing since state officials designated it as a year-round fishing spot in 2013. However, you should be careful if you elect to do ice fishing. Be sure that the ice is thick enough to support you before you venture out on it. Additionally, you also can take your motorboat out on the lake as well, but be aware that there is a 10 mile-per-hour speed limit on this lake.
John Day River
John Day is a river that is situated just east of the small town of Rufus, and it is on the Interstate 84 corridor between the larger communities of the Dalles and Arlington. If you are looking for Smallmouth Bass fishing within the state of Oregon, then this is one of the places that you should go. John Day is located on the sunny side of the state, and that means that the smallmouth bass has everything they need in order to flourish.
Indeed, if you ask any local outfitter, they will recommend John Day River for catching smallmouth. Some will even tell you that it can even be easy to catch this type of bass during the colder months between March and mid-May. One particular magazine reports that up to 85% of the larger smallmouth bass caught in this river is done during this period.
Indeed, even year-round there have been reports of individuals having the ability to catch bass as large as 20 inches, and there are even some sportspersons who were able to catch a hundred or more bass in a single day. Occasionally, one lucky individual will even be able to catch as many as 200. Thus, it goes without saying that this location is probably the best in the state if you are looking to catch smallmouth bass.
Of course, there are plenty of good areas where you can fish on this river. Some individuals recommend going to the mouth section, which is conveniently backed up by the Columbia dam to form the John Day Arm. However, there are others who will recommend the more free-flowing area of the river, which is roughly about a four-hour drive from Portland. It’s well worth it though; many have reported tremendous success in these areas further away from the City of Roses. Game officials work very hard to keep the John Day River as thoroughly stocked as possible. That is one of the main reasons why they continually encourage all fishing enthusiasts to observe a strict catch-and-release policy. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you cannot keep some of the bass that you catch in the John Day River. One of the best ways to do this would be through simply only keeping the smallmouth bass that are smaller than 10 pounds. Not to mention the fact that the smaller examples of bass usually taste better anyway.
The Nestucca River is definitely an Oregon location that has a unique charm all its own. Located at the base of Tillamook County, this river flows into the Pacific Ocean in the town of Pacific City. You can easily reach this river from either Portland or Salem by taking either Highway 101 or Highway 22. Now on to the fishing…
If there is one thing that the Nestucca River is known for, it would be some great Steelhead fishing. They have runs from both the early winter and the late winter. They have a plentiful and wide assortment of steelhead throughout the winter season, unlike other rivers where you will have to carefully plan your trip for the challenge of catching a steelhead.
When you consider that even on a slow year you will see a steelhead population approaching up to 1,000, you can see why this river is so popular among steelhead fishermen. Moreover, some of the returning strains of steelhead will reach their peak in the latter part of December and the first half of January.
Of course, if salmon fishing is your thing, then you will also be in luck at the Nestucca River. Generally, most of the salmon is of the Chinook variety, and they are usually found at many of the downriver locations. Additionally, you will find that you have better chances for steelhead in September and October simply because most anglers have switched their attention to the Chinook instead.
Besides the above five, there are many other great fishing spots within the state of Oregon. The McKenzie River, the Multnomah River, the Umpqua River and the Williamson River are all great options for the sportsman to try. There is no doubt about it; you will enjoy your fishing excursions in Oregon!