Skip to main content

7 Species to Fish In Oregon

With a quick glance at a map, the state of Oregon certainly looks more like a hunter’s dream locale than it does an ultimate fishing destination. However, the state plays host to a number of rivers and lakes, both major and minor, and the miles of coastline on the Pacific Ocean can never be discounted for the fishing opportunities they provide.

Whether you are after the state’s signature steelhead, a more commonplace fish species like salmon or bass, or something a bit more adventurous, Oregon has plenty to offer for fishing enthusiasts. Here’s our list of the seven species to fish in Oregon:

1. Steelhead: Every angler in Oregon or Washington knows a little something about steelhead. Undoubtedly, steelhead are the primary game fish to be found in Oregon, occupying a fisherman’s attention almost exclusively during the winter months and existing in “summer” species as well. There are tastier fish out there, but few can match the steelhead for sheer enjoyment of the catch. These guys put up an impressive fight and are a terrific test of an angler’s skills.


Photo via River Runner Outfitters

2. Shellfish: Oregon’s Department of Fish and Wildlife points toward the states estuaries as a terrific place to collect clams or crab. If you are looking to try out a different kind of fishing during your time in Oregon, it might be a good place to learn about scoring a slate of shellfish. Widen your underwater knowledge and go after something not so run-of-the-mill, like scallops, mussels, or even shrimp.


Photo via

3. Chinook Salmon: The autumnal salmon fishing scene in Oregon is a pretty stellar one, frequently resulting in tasty specimens that weigh somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 pounds. Head west from Eugene, Oregon – and that city’s University of Oregon – for the Siuslaw River to experience some of the best fishing in the state.


Photo via Crosscut

4. Kokanee: It’s tough to mention Oregon fishing without discussing kokanee. The biggest kokanee ever caught was hosted in the waters of the state’s Wallowa Lake. The specimen in question weighed in at 9.67 pounds, and it’s entirely possible that there are bigger fish just waiting for the right hook to bite. If world record notability is what you are looking for while in Oregon, kokanee are your game.


Photo via My Outdoor Buddy

5. Rainbow Trout: Wallowa Lake is a generally wonderful place to fish in Oregon. In addition to potentially record-breaking kokanee, the lake is also stocked annually with thousands of beautiful rainbow trout every year by the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Some would say rainbows are a difficult fish to master, but Oregon lakes like Wallowa have plenty of fish to go around.


Photo via Katu

6. Smallmouth Bass: Oregon isn’t known for its bass fishing – a factor that likely keeps many professionals away from its plentiful waters – but in the slow months of spring, the state’s rivers and lakes can still give up a few sizable smallmouth bass. The versatile fish can be caught with a wide range of gear, and generally doesn’t require specific equipment, lures or rods.


Photo via Fly Fishing Oregon Blog

7. Sturgeon: Sturgeon Bay may be a city in Wisconsin, but there are plenty of the substantial fish species lurking in the waters of the Columbia River, which divides Oregon and Washington just inland from the Pacific Ocean. The state of Oregon only allows you to keep fish between about 3.5 or 4.5 feet in length – and enforces fairly strict bag limits throughout the year – but a fish that big is worth the struggle.


Photo via The Guide’s Forecast

Featured photo via Water Time Outfitters

you might also like

7 Species to Fish In Oregon