Oregon is famous for its salmon and one of the most exciting things to do on your vacation in Oregon is to go salmon fishing on the Columbia Gorge River. Your entire family will love getting to reel in these massive fish. Plus, while you fish for salmon you get to enjoy incredible views of Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens, and the Columbia Gorge area.

Salmon Fishing on the Columbia Gorge River

Jonah with his first salmon catch on the Columbia Gorge River. (taken with a GoPro)

Last year I took my boys salmon fishing on the Columbia River in Portland, Oregon, and I was blown away by what a great experience it was and how beautiful the scenery was. Oregon is known for its beauty and you can get some great views when you are out on the Columbia River. We could see Mt. Hood and Mount St. Helens.

Book a full day of spring salmon fishing

We went out with Triple S Guide Service and I couldn’t have asked for it to have gone any better. My boys are far apart in age and they both had a great time. How many activities can you do that keep a nine-year-old just as entertained as a teenager?

Full disclosure, I have known Lee, from Triple S Guide Service for years. My kids are the same ages as his kids and our kids our friends.

Both my boys enjoyed catching their own fish and I must say I was pretty thrilled when I caught one myself. Spring salmon tend to weigh around 20 pounds, so they are big! My oldest son made the biggest catch of the day, his salmon weighed 22 pounds, mine weighed 18 pounds, and my little guy caught a 12 pounder.

salmon fishing on the Columbia Gorge river

Noah salmon fishing on the Columbia Gorge river

How to Select the Right Fishing Guide

As a single mom, I was nervous about taking the boys fishing. I mean, I don’t fish very much. I have extremely limited experience, and I certainly do not know anything about salmon fishing. That is why it is so important to find a good fishing guide to take you. I am lucky that we happen to be friends with our fishing guide. But for everyone else that most likely doesn’t have a friend who is a professional fishing guide, here are some tips on finding a good one:

  • Local expert – When looking for a guide make sure they are local. Our guide was born and raised in Oregon and grew up fishing on the river we went out on. He literally knows all aspects of the river.
  • Provides necessary equipment – Also factoring in needs. For example, I do not own any fishing-fishing equipment. That meant that I needed all gear to be provided. If you have flown somewhere to fish, I would venture to guess that you will not have equipment with you.
  • Works well with children – Our guide has three children of his own and I knew this. Any time you are going to take the kids on an activity like this that lasts over three hours, you definitely want someone who is good at working with kids. Just imagine how awful it would be to be stuck on a boat with someone that doesn’t like kids.
  • Cleans and fillets the fish – An added bonus was that our guide, Lee, fillets and cleans the fish for you. This was not something I thought about ahead of time, but boy, I was relieved when I realized that he would do this for me. He asked me if I knew what to do and by my blank stare, he could tell I most certainly did not know what to do.

Salmon Fishing in the Columbia GorgeWhat To Wear Salmon Fishing

A whole other issue was how to dress. Again, with the limited experience, I was unsure what exactly we should wear. We went on a nice day, but it was in early April so it was still pretty chilly outside. If it is cool outside it will be even colder on the river. I recommend wearing layers or at least taking some items so you can layer if needed. My little guy was way colder than my older boy, so it was nice to have layers. I also recommend taking some hot hands and hot feet packets with you. Kids can get cold, so it never hurts to have something to warm them up.

  • Wind pants or ski pants
  • Wind jacket or ski jacket
  • Long sleeve shirt
  • Hoodie
  • Jeans
  • Rain boots
  • Hat
  • Gloves
  • Sunglasses
  • Scarf

Of course, don’t forget to pack all the other stuff you might need like an external battery pack and charging cord because you do not want to miss getting photos. Snacks, water, tissues, sunscreen, chap-stick, baby wipes, waterproof camera aka a GoPro, and coffee for mom are all must-packs, too.

Salmon Recipes

When I got the salmon home, I had no idea what to do with it. I do not eat seafood and until this point, I had never cooked fish. I ask a couple of friends and these are the recipes they gave me. Both were great, but I liked this first one better and it was easier to make. 

Traeger Basic Salmon Bake recipe

Use foil to make a boat around your salmon. Spread mayonnaise over the top of the salmon, then sprinkle Traeger Salmon Shake seasoning generously across the top. Grill for 20 – 30 minutes in your Traeger at 375 degrees.

Marinated Salmon recipe 

Make a marinade for your salmon with:

1/4 c veg oil
1/4 c soy sauce
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried thyme
Then you can grill or bake it in the oven wrapped in foil at 350 degrees. Check it around 30 minutes. Cook until it flakes with a fork.


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