Salmon Fishing Near Hillsboro, Oregon

Salmon Fishing Near Hillsboro, Oregon

Hillsboro, Oregon, located in the heart of the Willamette Valley, is within reach of some of the best salmon fishing locations in the Pacific Northwest. This guide provides a detailed look at salmon fishing in the vicinity of Hillsboro, covering the techniques, seasons, and prime spots for targeting these sought-after fish.

Salmon Species and Seasonal Runs

The area around Hillsboro sees runs of several salmon species, most notably Chinook (King) and Coho (Silver) salmon.

  • Chinook Salmon: Known for their size and strength, Chinook have spring and fall runs, with the spring run starting in March and the fall run peaking in September and October.
  • Coho Salmon: Smaller but feisty, Coho salmon runs start in late summer and peak in the fall, offering exciting fishing opportunities through November.

Popular Fishing Spots Near Hillsboro

  • The Willamette River: While primarily known for its spring Chinook run, the Willamette also offers opportunities for fall Chinook and Coho salmon, especially in the lower reaches and confluences with major tributaries.
  • The Columbia River: Just north of Hillsboro, the Columbia River is a major salmon thoroughfare, with numerous access points for both bank and boat fishing. The river’s estuary and the areas near tributaries like the Sandy River are hotspots for salmon fishing.
  • The Wilson and Trask Rivers: Located to the west of Hillsboro, these rivers are within a reasonable driving distance and are known for their robust runs of fall Chinook and Coho salmon.

Fishing Techniques for Salmon

  • Trolling: In the larger water bodies like the Columbia River, trolling with bait or lures is a popular and effective method for catching salmon, particularly in the deeper channels where salmon travel.
  • Fly Fishing: While more challenging, fly fishing for salmon can be rewarding, especially in the smaller rivers and tributaries during lower water conditions when salmon are more likely to take a fly.
  • Drift Fishing: Common in river settings, drift fishing allows baits like eggs or artificial lures to move naturally with the current, appealing to the salmon’s instinctual feeding habits.
  • Plunking: A favored technique on the banks of larger rivers, plunking involves casting baited rigs into the river and waiting for salmon to bite, ideal for targeting fish in deeper runs or holding areas.

Seasonal Strategies

  • Spring: Focus on the Willamette River for spring Chinook, utilizing trolling or plunking methods in the mainstem or near tributary mouths.
  • Summer: Early summer can still yield spring Chinook, with the start of the Coho run in late summer. Trolling in the Columbia River or fishing in cooler tributaries can be effective.
  • Fall: Prime time for both Chinook and Coho, with river fishing in the Wilson, Trask, and lower Columbia being most productive. Techniques like drift fishing and fly fishing can yield good results.
  • Winter: While not peak salmon season, some winter Chinook runs can be found in the Columbia River, offering opportunities for die-hard anglers.

Conservation and Sustainability

Sustainable fishing practices are crucial for preserving salmon populations for future generations. Adherence to regulations set by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, including catch limits and season dates, is vital. Catch-and-release practices, particularly for wild salmon, help maintain the species’ health and abundance.


Salmon fishing near Hillsboro, Oregon, offers diverse and rich experiences across various water bodies and seasons. With the right techniques and a deep understanding of salmon behavior and habitat, anglers can find exceptional fishing opportunities in the region. By prioritizing conservation and responsible fishing practices, the legacy of salmon fishing in the Hillsboro area will continue to thrive, providing thrilling angling experiences for years to come.

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