If you love fishing, you need to make the trek to Rufus, Oregon. Located about two hours east of Portland, it’s the perfect weekend getaway. The town is on the banks of the Columbia River, right below the John Day Dam. This prime location makes it easy to catch all kinds of fish, including salmon, steelhead, sturgeon, and walleye. I definitely recommend trying a guided fishing trip with someone who knows the area well. Book a guided walleye trip here 

Rufus is a city in sparsely populated Sherman County, Oregon. The city’s population was 284 at the 2022 census.

Rufus, Oregon fishing

Many people know Rufus because of the great walleye fishing that the Columbia River has to offer. Rufus sits near the river’s banks right below the John Day Dam, putting it in a prime spot for many types of fishing, including salmon, steelhead, sturgeon, and, of course, walleye fishing. This section of the Columbia River near Rufus also offers plenty of panfish, including bass, perch, crappie, and bluegill fishing.

Water sports in Rufus, Oregon

Rufus, Oregon, is also a great spot for water sports. If you prefer warmer water, stick to the shallows, because the Columbia River usually runs in the high 60s and low 70s. If you want to go swimming, jet skiing, kitesurfing, or wakeboarding, there’s no better spot in Oregon.

Walleye fishing Rufus,oregon

Rufus has a reputation among fisherfolk, but it’s not just any kind of fishing—it’s walleye fishing. The Columbia River that runs through Rufus is packed with walleye, and a lot of people have said that the next record-breaking walleye will come right out of there. If you’re looking for a walleye adventure, Rufus is the place to go. Columbia River Walleye are some of the best fish tacos you will ever eat.

Bank fishing Rufus

Not everyone likes to fish from a boat, but there’s plenty of bank access to fish near Rufus. Once you take the Rufus exit from I-84, head toward John Day Dam. There, you’ll find an access road that runs along the river from the dam and past Rufus. Some species, especially walleye, are hard to catch from the shoreline. But you can find bass, panfish, and catfish species in the shallow water.

Be sure to check the regulations when fishing the Columbia River near Rufus, as salmon, sturgeon, and steelhead are very seasonal fish. As of now, walleye and panfish seasons are year-round, and sturgeon is a catch-and-release fishery year-round. Oftentimes, when the water reaches very high temperatures, they will even close, catch, and release sturgeon. So always check your regulations.  You could always stop in the local tackle shop in Rufus and talk to them, or even call them about current regulations.

John Day River

If you’re ever in Rufus, Oregon, you absolutely must visit the John Day River, which is just four miles east of the city. The John Day offers so much more than just fishing, and it’s also a great place to camp and enjoy some water sports. I grew up and fell in love with fishing the John Day River, and it’s still one of my favorite spots for a day out. Check it out, and I promise you won’t regret it!

If you’re unsure what the season is, be sure to call me at Marvin’s Guide Service, 503-314-5087, and I will be happy to hook you up in or around Rufus for salmon, sturgeon, steelhead, or walleye. Read more about walleye fishing here!

When visiting Rufus, Oregon, I would also suggest crossing the river over to Goldendale, Washington, and checking out the Maryhill Museum of Art.

The Dalles Oregon is a cool town in the Columbia River gorge. The Dalles is just a few miles west of Rufus, Oregon, and also offers amazing salmon, sturgeon, and walleye fishing.

Are you looking for a hotel near Rufus, Oregon? I’ve put together a small list, not necessarily in any order.

Hotels and Motels Rufus, Oregon

Tyee Motel 304 1st ST Rufus, OR 97050; phone: 541-739-2310.

Rufus Hillview Inn, 203 Wallace St., Rufus OR 97050, phone: 541-739-82221, website.

Dinty’s Motor Inn, 91581 Biggs Rufus Hwy., Rufus, OR 97065, phone: 541-739-2596, website.

Be sure to check out my Walleye, salmon, Sturgeon and bass page for more information.




father and son with Walley caught on the Columbia River.


A smiling man with caught while fishing on the Columbia River near Rufus, Oregon. The walleye are lined up in Marvin's Guide Service's boat.

Happy client with walleye caught fishing with Marvin’s Guide Service on the Columbia River near Rufus, Oregon.

Last Updated on by Marvin




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