Best Fishing in Oregon
Oregon's Recreational Fishing Ports
Photo courtesy of Mark Lytle Charters
This page covers Oregon’s major ports for offshore sport fishing for salmon, halibut, albacore tuna, lingcod, crabs and a wide variety of bottomfish. Most of these ports have year-round services for anglers who have their own boats, and many host one or more charter and guide boat operations. A list of smaller fishing ports follows.
Note: Most ocean fisheries are set after annual regulation booklets are printed and/or are subject to in-season changes. For current info, check for updates on this site using the search bar (there’s one at the bottom of this page), check the ODFW website, or consult local charter and guided fishing operators and tackle shops.
Lower Columbia River
Astoria, Warrenton and Hammond
Multiple ports positioned at the mouth of the Pacific Northwest’s major salmon river make this a very popular place to be, particularly in the summer.
Collectively, Astoria and its neighboring port towns often land more salmon overall than come through any other estuary in Oregon. Salmon offer primarily a summer fishery, usually peaking in July and August, as fish congregate for their late summer and early fall runs upriver.
The high catch numbers here are driven by hatchery coho salmon, which have a clipped adipose fin and gather offshore before returning to the many hatcheries in the Columbia Basin. Coho runs swing widely from boom to bust. When those runs are fairly strong, the offshore seasons are more generous and recreational anglers often bring home 10,000 to more than 20,000 fin-clipped coho. When returns are particularly high, as they were in 2001 and 2009, sport anglers bring home more than 30,000 silver salmon through these ports.
That’s not to say that Lower Columbia River ports only go after coho. Chinook salmon — which often are much larger than coho — also are prevalent in these waters, and annual chinook catches at these ports are typically in the 1,000 to 3,000 range. Harvests of 5,000 fish a year are less common but possible. Recent runs have been good.
There is a modest annual fishery for halibut in spring and summer, some good long-range fishing for tuna in the late summer, and excellent crabbing when conditions and regulations allow. The ocean floor here is mostly sand, making it less productive for lingcod and rockfish overall, but there are lingcod, sea bass and other rockfish around the jetties, including a boat fishery off the submerged end of the South Jetty.
Marinas in this port town often produce some of Oregon’s highest offshore catches of chinook salmon, and several recent years have had Pacific Ocean catches over 6,000 chinook, not counting thousands more fall chinook and several hundred spring chinook landed in the bay most years.
Depending on run strength and regulations, chinook fishing off Tillamook Bay (including a “bubble fishery” just off the mouth that is sometimes open when the larger ocean fishery is closed), chinook can be caught in the ocean from spring through fall. Peak numbers of fish are present from July into October.
Garibaldi’s marinas don’t account for as many coho salmon as the lower Columbia port towns, but during good run years limits of silvers can come quickly to those fishing offshore during July and August.
Halibut and tuna trips, both far offshore, originate from here in season. Garibaldi ranks a distant second to Newport to pounds of halibut landed most seasons.
For fishing (and crabbing and clamming) inside Tillamook Bay, click here.
Cape Kiwanda and Nestucca Bay
This is the smallest fishery we’re including in this list, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in adventure and high catch rates.
Nestucca Bay itself is a minor player for ocean-going sport boats, but just north of the bay, near Cape Kiwanda, there is a fleet of both sport and commercial dory boats that launch straight off the beach. Here the adrenaline starts with a blast through the waves and continues with fine fishing year-round (conditions permitting) for bottomfish and seasonally for salmon, halibut and albacore tuna.
One reason catch rates are high here is that they are lightly fished, since Pacific City’s productive offshore fishing grounds sit two dozen or more miles from the nearest major fleets based in Garibaldi to the north and Depoe Bay to the south.
For salmon, recreational anglers in good years can top 1,000 chinook and 3,000 coho from this area.
The world’s smallest working port is a fine place to charter a fishing boat or launch your own craft for a wide variety of angling opportunities. Good reef structure offers a wide variety of bottomfish, including rockfish and lingcod. In season, salmon, halibut and albacore tuna are within reach. Dungeness crabs are abundant.
First-time boaters to this port, conveniently located between the larger towns of Lincoln City (north) and Newport (south) need to learn to navigate Depoe Bay’s unique entrance, which is cut through rock to join the calm bay to Big Blue.
Salmon catches here often top 1,000 to 3,000 chinook and, in good run years, will be better than 5,000 coho. Depending on the run and seasons allowed, salmon fishing can get going good in June or July and continue in August or September.
This is another all-around great destination for off-shore fishing, with some of the best ocean chinook fishing in the state and second only to the lower Columbia River ports for coho salmon catches most seasons. Bottom-fishing trips for lingcod and other rockfish go all year from Newport, considered one of the safer ocean access points on the coast. Halibut and tuna fishing is popular in season, and crabbing is a bonus for some outings.
You’ll find charter boat operators and launch facilities and services on both sides of the Yaquina Bay Bridge.
In banner years, like the summers of 2003 and 2004, ocean salmon catches exceeded 12,000 coho and 7,000 chinook. Chinook fishing again appears on the upswing here and elsewhere on the coast.
Newport is far and away Oregon’s major deep-water halibut-fishing port, with about two-thirds of the catch from the state’s major Pacific halibut territory. Halibut fishing is restricted to certain days, usually starting in May.
Winchester Bay, Gardiner and Reedsport
Winchester Bay regularly produces more ocean-caught chinook for sport anglers than any other place in the state, despite being farther from Oregon’s major population centers than north and central coast ports. For example, when chinook runs were strong, Winchester anglers averaged nearly 11,000 per year from 2002 to 2004. Annual catches in the 3,000 to 5,000 range are typical whenever runs are decent and ocean regulations allow anglers a fair shot at them.
Offshore coho salmon fishing can be quite good here as well. The catch nearly reached 14,000 silvers in 2003.
Offshore fishing for tuna, halibut, lingcod and bottomfish all can be good options, and the bay itself offers some of the state’s better estuary fishing for salmon, sturgeon and even striped bass.
Oregon’s largest bay has excellent facilities and chartered and guided fishing for offshore trips for all of Oregon’s favorite saltwater game fish species.
Charleston, the main port city in Oregon’s Bay Area, accounts for a pretty good number of both chinook and coho salmon during the summer season. Chinook fishing in particular has been strong here in recent years.
Brookings, at the mouth of the Chetco River, is the southernmost major port on the Oregon coast, popular both with Oregonians and Californians.
Chinook salmon are king at Brookings, where landings often top 4,000 in a season and swelled over 10,000 in the year 2000. The chinook returning to the Chetco can be very large, often in the 40- and 50-pound range. A 65-pounder was caught in the river itself in 2011 as chinook fishing continued a recent recovery after a few down years.
Historically, coho salmon are a more minor fishery here than elsewhere on the Oregon coast, but since about 2007 catches have improved with more opportunity allowed by regulations and better runs.
Minor Oregon Fishing Ports
Wheeler: There’s a very nice fishery on Nehalem Bay that is rebounding after a few lean years, but for offshore fishing most sport anglers launch at the safer Tillamook Bay just to the south. When conditions are right, though, boats leaving here have access to all popular game fish and are closest to a popular near-shore halibut fishery.
Netarts Bay: Great crabbing and clamming inside, but without jetties or significant channel, this dicey ocean access results in an extremely limited offshore fishery. And Tillamook Bay is so close.
Salmon River Bay: A good chinook fishery inside, there is also a modest number (100 or more) chinook and coho taken by boats who slip onto the ocean when conditions allow.
Lincoln City: Nice location at the southern end of one of Oregon’s most popular beach towns, but there aren’t jetties to protect a shallow entry. Most boating is geared toward good tidewater salmon fishing. A very modest number of salmon caught offshore come to port here, but most anglers take their boats south to Depoe Bay or Newport.
Waldport: The Alsea River and its bay and estuary are a terrific chinook salmon system, but the coastal town of Waldport is not the ideal portal to the Pacific. Relatively little offshore fishing begins here.
Florence: The Siuslaw River and its bay are among Oregon’s best for chinook salmon, but offshore fishing here is a more modest pursuit. We had to draw the line somewhere, and this might rate the “best of the rest” of Oregon’s coastal ports, with up to 1,000 chinook and 2,000 coho landed offshore many years and nice facilities for recreational boaters. But those harvest records pale in consideration to the relatively close ports of Newport and Winchester Bay. This area features a mostly sand ocean floor, making it less appealing to rockfish and lingcod but offering a small but good halibut fishery.
Bandon: The Coquille River’s bay features a great beach town, a very good fishing and crabbing estuary and is surrounded by wonderful fishing opportunities. However, the harvest of ocean-caught salmon and other species is relatively modest compared to nearby Coos and Winchester bays.
Port Orford: Some great fishing and other opportunities for near-shore recreation, with some great rocky habitat, but a minor player for salmon and far-offshore species. However, there is a small but potentially good salmon fishing “bubble” that can open off the mouth of the Elk River.
Gold Beach: The great Rogue River flows into the ocean here, but its reputation is built from salmon and steelhead caught from the bay on upriver. This is a minor ocean-access point with very modest salmon landings from offshore.
We also recommend: Oregon Salmon Fishing page
For month-by-month ideas of when and where salmon and other types of fishing are best, see our Oregon Fishing Calendar.