As salmon move into freshwater, October typically brings the best chance to land a Chinook or coho from a river in northwestern Oregon, and bay fishing usually continues to be very good in several locations this month.
In fact, October heralds the peak of the Chinook salmon run in Tillamook Bay, one of the area’s later fisheries.
Big Creek on the lower Columbia reopens and could produce both coho and some tule Chinook, the latter of which tend to be a bit dark.
Searun cutthroat trout should be well dispersed in many rivers and are returning to their freshwater colors. The season ends after October.
These fish will be showing more color but are still fairly good for the table. With salmon running closer to saltwater, you’ll have these spots mostly to yourself.
Bay fishing for Chinook is tapering off but can still be quite good in the Coos, Chetco and Winchester (Umpqua) bays.
Several rivers start to fish better this month, with fairly good catches possible on the South Fork Coos.
The Rogue River is winding down, but several hundred later-running bright Chinook likely will go home with anglers from the bay and lower river.
Empire Lakes near Coos Bay and several other nearby year-round waters can be stocked generously with rainbow trout in October and can produce fair catches through the cold season. Check the stocking schedule and recreational report linked at the bottom of this article for specifics.
Much farther inland into the Cascade Mountains, mid-autumn trout fishing can be incredible if you dodge the winter-like conditions that come and go this month.
The rainbow trout fishing at Diamond Lake is worth a late trip with favorable weather forecasts.
Cooper Creek Reservoir near Sutherlin is at a more hospitable elevation and lately has been planted with trout some Octobers, potentially for a fundraising fishing tourney.
Bass and Panfish
Warmwater fishing for all species can be pretty good in the fall, especially before nasty weather hits.
Tenmile Lakes has a growing population of good-sized yellow perch, which can bite very well in cooling waters this time of year. You will likely find them in relatively deep water.
Coho fishing can be very good on the Sandy River and Eagle Creek as fin-clipped fish get closer to their hatcheries. Look for good rains to move fresh fish.
Henry Hagg Lake and Mount Hood Pond near Portland, Walter Wirth Lake and Walling Pond in Salem, Waverly Lake in Albany and Dorena Reservoir near Cottage Grove often are stocked during October and are a good choice for a pleasant fall day of fishing close to home.
A fair number of summer steelhead still are available in Willamette Valley tributaries and Portland area rivers. The best fishing will be in the river miles closer to hatcheries, dams and fishing deadlines.
Bass and Panfish
Crappie fishing can be surprisingly productive in the fall. It is often best to seek schools in deeper water than you found them in the spring, such as near the base of pilings in Portland Harbor. Yellow perch fishing is also good in many places.
The Deschutes River above Sherar’s Falls is open for big business this month, with the best steelheading of the year in the Maupin area and upriver.
Meanwhile, total catches on the lower Deschutes drop after the past two big months, but plenty of fish are caught down there in October, especially early in the month.
Other zone lakes also will experience good trout fishing until wintry conditions return. While you might very well get snow, you won’t be bugged by bugs.
Bass and Panfish
Crappie and smallmouth and largemouth bass fishing often is going strong at Prineville Reservoir in the early fall, and with fewer anglers chasing them.
The Sprague River can often be a great alternative for big native redband rainbow trout fishing in October, before many of the Klamath area streams close after Halloween.
The Williamson River is also in its final month of redband rainbow trout fishing, and you might want to check out Spring Creek near Collier Memorial State Park for some of these big fish moving in to spawn after moving up through the Williamson from Upper Klamath Lake.
The Wood River near Fort Klamath is another good bet, both for the redbands and for its nice population of brown trout.
Relatively few fish will be above Wildcat Bridge on the Grande Ronde or into the Wallowa River this early in the season, so focus your attention lower down.
Trolling small wobbling plugs in the John Day Arm will start to take steelhead this month, but only if allowed. Recent thermal sanctuary rules enacted during the spring might make the fishery below Tumwater Falls off limits.
Above the falls up to Cottonwood Bridge, look for a nice steelhead fishery boasting plenty of native fish for catch-and-release and the occasional hatchery keeper.
Snake River Zone
The first good numbers of summer steelhead arrive below Hells Canyon Dam.
Bass and Panfish
Smallmouth bass may be moving deeper in Brownlee and other Snake River reservoirs, but they’ll still strike soft plastics and other lures.
Look for schools of crappie, perhaps deeper than you found them in the spring, and begin to work your jigs a little more slowly in cooling water.
Columbia River Zone
Chinook fishing is tapering off in the big Columbia River. Look for the best catches below Bonneville Dam and at tributary mouths in the Bonneville Pool.
The Buoy 10 salmon fishing area in the estuary typically reopens for Chinook for a shot at a mint-bright late fish, although fish numbers won’t be what they were in late August.
Coho fishing will produce a modest number in the lower river, but good fishing can be had in the Bonneville Pool.
This is best farther upriver, especially in the McNary Pool.
October sturgeon fishing on the Columbia River can be quite good, particularly from the Longview Bridge up to Bonneville Dam, including near the mouth of the Willamette River (where many will winter over) in the Portland area and also upriver into the gorge.
Check your regulations; harvest opportunities are very limited these days.
Most salmon fishing has moved into bays and rivers, but watch for potential “bubble” fisheries to open to provide bursts of very good ocean fishing for Chinook salmon off the mouths of Tillamook Bay and the Chetco River.
Check current regulations carefully.
It’s hard to beat October crabbing in Oregon if the fall rains haven’t been too harsh. (Too much freshwater inflow from rivers drives them into the ocean.)
Pick a dry spell. Smaller tidal exchanges also improve crabbing.
Razor clamming reopens on Clatsop County beaches, although better tides will come during the first half of the coming year.
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