Best April Fishing | Oregon

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Northwest Zone

Trout

Stocking continues at a high pace in the zone’s many small lakes and ponds, and the pickings are easy. See ODFW’s stocking schedule (linked at the bottom of this article) for details.

Many streams are closed for trout until late next month.

Steelhead

This is tailing off a bit, but April can start quite good for winter steelhead on the north and central coast’s year-round rivers, and the pressure is lighter as anglers turn their attention to spring Chinook salmon.

Check your regulations before heading out, since a number of streams closed at the end of March.

Some of your best prospects for a hatchery keeper are the WilsonNestucca and Siletz rivers, all of which also have summer steelhead runs just getting started.

Catch and release steelheading is also an option on the Trask and other year-round district rivers, but be gentle of spawning fish.

Salmon

The first spring Chinook may be caught on the Nestucca and Trask rivers, but look for May to be more consistent.

You might also give it a shot near the mouths of Gnat Creek or Big Creek on the lower Columbia River, which some years are very productive this month or next (don’t tell the locals we sent you!) and other years a bust.

Bass and Panfish

Look for largemouth bass to be aggressively protecting spawning grounds in the shallows of coastal lakes including Cullaby Lake on the north coast and a number of Florence-area lakes, including Siltcoos Lake and Tahkenitch Lake.

Crappie, bluegill, yellow perch and bullhead catfish should bite, with best prospects during warm spells.

Sturgeon

There might still be a fair number of fish in coastal bays like Tillamook and Yaquina.

Southwest Zone

Trout

Stocking is occurring at most of the district’s favorite lakes, reservoirs and ponds. See ODFW’s stocking schedule linked at the bottom of this article for a spot near you.

Popular mountain lakes that start getting good this month or next include Diamond Lake, Lemolo Lake, Howard Prairie Lake and Hyatt Lake.

Some district streams are still closed to trout fishing, but opportunities exist at Ashland and Jenny creeks (Jackson County) and upper reaches of the Rogue and Umpqua river systems.

Conditions at Diamond Lake can be tricky in mid-spring, and some years you’ll be ice-fishing (very carefully, we hope).

Fly anglers may find big salmonflies hatching on the upper Rogue River, setting the resident rainbows into a short frenzy.

Salmon

Spring Chinook fishing success picks up major steam on the mainstem Umpqua River and the lower Rogue River in April during strong run years.

You’ll also have a shot at the first-arriving springers on the North Umpqua, but this will be a better option next month.

Steelhead

Many rivers closed last month. The upper Rogue, below Lost Creek Lake, is very productive for late winter steelhead in April.

Bass and Panfish

Smallmouth bass should still be in pre-spawn mode for at least the first part of this month, and this is prime time to target large, aggressive fish in the Umpqua River (as long as rains haven’t been too heavy to muddy the water).

Down in the lower Umpqua and Smith rivers, striped bass fishing can be good in April and May.

Willamette Zone

Salmon

Bar none, April is the clear winner for spring Chinook salmon catches on the Willamette River below the falls. Fishing for hatchery springers should stay open as long as a decent run is in the crystal ball.

Early springers will also be caught on the Clackamas and Sandy rivers this month, but these tributaries kick out far more salmon in late spring and early summer.

Trout

A great trout month, too. Stocking continues at lakes across the zone, and big plantings usually start at the super-popular Detroit Lake.

Also, some valley streams open for trout fishing on the fourth Saturday of this month or get their first plantings of the year, including some stocked in the McKenzie River (with Leaburg Lake) and upper Willamette River drainages.

The McKenzie River should have good hatches of blue-winged olives and March browns continuing this month.

Check regulations carefully because some salmon-bearing waters remain closed for trout into late May, and there also are various bait and catch-and-release rules that apply to specific areas.

Also check our run-down of where trout are stocked in the Willamette Valley.

Steelhead

The Clackamas River is still quite good for winter steelhead this time of year, and the Sandy River is fair. Both streams also will see their first summer-run steelhead come in.

Willamette River bank anglers will score a few steelhead from both runs, particularly near the Clackamas mouth.

The tributaries above Willamette Falls will begin to see summer fish as well, although it’s early. The South Santiam is among your best valley bets for an early keeper.

Bass and Panfish

Try locating hungry bass and panfish in shallow water during warmer spells. Shallow lakes and ponds warm faster than rivers. (See: Best Months to Catch Oregon Bass, Walleye & Panfish.)

Central Zone

Trout

Stocking typically begins this month in a handful of Bend-area waters, including Twin Lakes and Fall River.

Farther north, year-round waters Pine Hollow Reservoir, Rock Creek Reservoir and Taylor Lake are likely to get good numbers of fish this month.

Salmon

When allowed, the first spring Chinook salmon are caught below Sherar’s Falls on the Deschutes River later this month. Better fishing is coming in May.

Kokanee

Early kokanee spots include Crescent Lake, Lake Billy ChinookSuttle Lake and Wickiup Reservoir.

Southeast Zone

Trout

The Wood River typically opens in late April and is often good from the outset for hungry brown trout.

Chickahominy Reservoir’s rich insect population usually kicks into gear about now, with midges, leeches and damsel- and dragonflies in the soup.

Krumbo Reservoir may get a big load of trout right before the opener on the fourth Saturday this month.

Lake of the Woods also may get some big trout starting this month, although volume stocking is more likely in May.

Bass and Panfish

Crappie fishing starts getting good this month and continues through late spring at Owyhee Reservoir. The fish are likely to be shallow.

Bass fishing for both smallmouth and largemouth is also likely getting good.

Northeast Zone

Steelhead

Fishing is open on the Grande Ronde, Wallowa and Imnaha rivers through April, and it can be very good if water levels are reasonable and the weather tolerable. During good run years the Wallowa River can be spectacular in April.

Bass and Panfish

April is a very good month to catch particularly large smallmouth bass in the John Day River. You won’t catch big numbers yet, but bring your camera.

Trout

You can catch lake trout at Wallowa Lake all year, but April gives you some of the best odds at this tough pursuit.

Kokanee

Wallowa Lake kokanee fishing can be a good early season bet.

Snake River Zone

Steelhead

The Snake River below the Hells Canyon Dam likely is still putting out a modest steelhead catch approaching the April 30 closure.

Bass and Panfish

Crappie angling is just starting to warm up in Brownlee Reservoir, and you might also find some aggressive bass close to shore.

Columbia River Zone

Salmon

April brings very good numbers of spring Chinook salmon to the lower Columbia River, but regulators may close the fishing early to protect segments of the springer population and also to make sure upriver sport and tribal anglers get a share.

Specific days may also be closed for commercial gill-netting.

Check for the latest updates before fishing. If you find yourself fishing this time of year when few other people are, you’re probably fishing illegally!

Fishing starts improving above Bonneville Dam late this month, and angling may stay open longer.

Sturgeon

Larger sturgeon are most common in the Columbia River Gorge this time of year for catch and release fishing.

The Dalles Pool just upriver may be a fair option as well, if open for keepers. Always check regulation updates before fishing.

Bass and Panfish

April is a good time of year to catch good numbers of walleye in the big river because they are usually still pre-spawn and aggressive. The Dalles Pool is a favorite walleye spot.

Smallmouth bass are likely to be in an aggressive, pre-spawn mode.

Marine Zone

Salmon

There may be ocean Chinook fishing allowed this month, although rough seas and limited numbers of fish will hold catch rates down most years.

Other Ocean Fish

You’ll have better success on lingcod and other bottomfish, from near-shore boats and jetties, when conditions allow.

Spring surf perch fishing can be very good.

Shellfish

Exceptionally low minus spring tides bring extremely good razor clamming, especially on Clatsop County beaches.

Spring crabbing in Oregon is usually slow to fair, with your best odds when soft tides coincide with a relatively drive weather stretch.

For more information, try the following main pages:

Return to Oregon Fishing Calendar
Find the best Oregon fishing by regional zones
Find the best Oregon fishing by target species
Return to the Best Fishing in Oregon home page

Oregon Resources

ODFW trout stocking schedule
ODFW weekly recreation report and regulation updates
ODFW annual fishing regulations
National Weather Service forecasts