We have four more days to catch spring chinook salmon on the Columbia River.

Officials in Oregon and Washington extended the season to Tuesday, April 11, adding four more days to catch springers on the big river. (The river had originally been scheduled to close after Friday, April 7, so the  decision gives us another weekend and a few days next week to fish the Columbia.)

The extension affects the river below Bonneville Dam, including my favorite spots in the Portland area.

The states’ decision comes after a slow start to the spring salmon season.

Usually, the last days of March and the early days of April should offer good opportunities for anglers on my boat to land the best-tasting salmon on the planet.

However, this year the Columbia River has filled both with smelt and the sea lions that have swarmed upriver to feed on them. Both of those things put salmon off the bite just when springers typically return in good numbers.

Fortunately, the smelt run is fading away and the sea lions are heading back downriver, and the salmon fishing will trend up as a result.

If you want to fish for salmon after the 11th, no problem there. We’ll be moving our trips to the lower Willamette River after the Columbia closes. April is historically the top-producing month for the Willamette’s spring salmon fishery.

The Willamette River doesn’t have the same fish management pressures that the Columbia has, and a solid run is forecast there. So we expect to be able to fish the Willamette for the remainder of our spring salmon trips this year.

Read the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s press release.


Happy woman with her spring salmon she caught on the Columbia River.

Columbia River spring salmon


Last Updated on by Marvin




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