Willamette River salmon anglers have enjoyed a strong run of fish the past few weeks and it’s only getting better on the river that runs through the heart of Oregon.
Portland resident Amy Convery, must be an eager angler. She didn’t think twice about a 4 a-m wake up call because it paid off with a gorgeous fish.
This week, she joined local guide, Brandon Glass, for a day of fishing and landed a mint bright ten-pound summer steelhead.
Jack Glass, Brandon’s father, and I watched from a short distance away as Brandon deftly netted Convery’s gleaming prize.
Glass offered that it has been a “roller-coaster” of a spring weather season that has made normally predictable angling conditions more challenging this year.
“Angling’s been quite good on the Willamette so far,” noted Glass. “But there have been a lot of day to day water fluctuations due to all of the rain. So, visibility has been the big threat. Some days it’s less than a couple feet of viz when we’d really like to have twice that.”
Longtime fishermen Rod Brobeck and Trey Carskadon joined Jack Glass (Hook-Up Guide Service) too. We were on a “dawn patrol” angling adventure in the Meldrum Bar area near Oregon City.
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has forecast more than 100,000 spring salmon to swim up the Willamette River between April and June.
It’s a healthy number of fish by any calculation, so the Willamette is open to salmon angling seven days a week and anglers enjoy a daily limit of two hatchery salmon.
Carksadon noted that the Willamette Springer is the premier fish by which all other salmon seasons are measured. That is, if the spring run is strong, the anglers respond and that sets the stage for all of the other seasons that follow.
So far, the angling interest has been strong – proven by a glance at the so called “aluminum hatch” of boats along the entire 26 mile length of the river length of the river from Oregon City to the confluence with the Columbia River.
“It just doesn’t get any better than a Willamette Spring King,” noted Carskadon. “A very high fat content gives it a buttery taste…that’s what makes this fish so special. This is one of the few places with a run of fish right off the front porch of a major metropolitan area and also one of the finest eating fish on the planet.”
Trolling with salmon lures called “Quikfish” and baits like dyed prawns is popular pastime for sure, but this season a new shore side angling dock at Oregon City provides bank anglers good opportunities too.
Brobeck, Executive Director of the not for profit Oregon Wildlife Heritage Foundation, said that his group spilt the cost of the football field length dock with the state’s Restoration and Enhancement Board.
The new quarter million-dollar fishing dock offers bank anglers a stable and safe shoreline area to cast and land fish.
“We do of habitat work all across Oregon,” said Brobeck. “But we also try to provide access for fishermen and this project is something solid – we can stand on it and we fish off it and most importantly, there’s good fishing here too; especially for spring salmon and sturgeon.”
One more thing to keep in mind: if you boat the river, do it safely!
The spring river current is strong and the temperature is frigid cold at this time of year, so Carskadon (Chairman of the Oregon State Marine Board) added, be sure to wear a pfd.”
“Right now, we have 45-degree water. If you go in the water without a pfd, you’ve only a few short minutes before cramping up or hypothermia kicks in. It cannot over-stated how cold or how powerful this river is right now. We absolutely have something special here and people should get out and enjoy it, but please wear a pfd.”