Fishing and Hunting
Oregon takes a backseat to few other places when it comes to sportfishing and hunting opportunities, with varied shooting and angling possible all over the state. Rules and bag limits for both are subject to frequent change, so get a copy of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s hunting and fishing regulations, available online or at the agency office (2501 SW 1st Ave., Portland, 503/872-5268, www.dfw.state.or.us), as well as at sporting goods stores, some grocery stores (such as Fred Meyer), and other outlets.
Fishing for trout, both wild native cutthroat and rainbows as well as planted hatchery fish, is popular all across the state. Standout areas include the Deschutes River, a blue-ribbon stream noted for its large “redband” rainbow trout, as well as excellent steelhead fishing. Other notable steelhead streams include the coastal Rogue and Umpqua Rivers, as well as the Sandy and Clackamas Rivers, right in Portland’s backyard. Smallmouth bass provide excellent sport on the John Day and Umpqua Rivers, and largemouth bass draw anglers to warm-water lakes across the state.
The return of salmon and steelhead remains uneven, although it is aided by such efforts as habitat protection, improvements to dams that make them more fish-friendly, and other conservation efforts, as well as by cyclical changes in ocean currents and nutrient levels.
Weighing into the hundreds of pounds, sturgeon is another extremely popular game fish in the larger rivers, particularly the Columbia and the Umpqua. Off the coast, bottom fishing for rockfish and other species is a year-round activity, depending on the weather. Warm ocean currents bring albacore tuna in August–September, and halibut are usually available in summer, though the season is variable and is set yearly by the Pacific Fisheries Management Council.
About 1,000 fishing guides are licensed in Oregon. Fishing opportunities on your own are almost limitless, but hiring a guide can be money well spent if you’re exploring unfamiliar waters or you lack a boat. Major charter-fishing centers on the coast include Astoria, Hammond, Warrenton, Garibaldi, Depoe Bay, Newport, Winchester Bay, Charleston, Gold Beach, Bandon, and Brookings. Charter rates vary a bit, but typical prices up and down the coast are $65–80 for a half day (5–6 hours) of bottom fishing, $80–100 for a full day; $100–150 for an 8-hour salmon outing; $200–225 for 12 hours of tuna fishing; $175 for a 12-hour halibut charter. Inland, expect to pay at least $175–275 per person per day for guided trips for salmon, steelhead, sturgeon, and other species. Guide and charter services are listed in each destination chapter. Chambers of commerce in each town can also provide extensive listings.
Fishing licenses cost $12 (for 1 day), $22.50 (2 days), $33 (3 days), $43.50 (4 days), $43.75 (7 days), or $61.50 (full year for nonresidents; $24.75 for Oregonians). Nonresident licenses include Combined Angling Tags (allowing the taking of salmon, sturgeon, steelhead, and halibut).
Hunters enjoy a broad range of opportunities throughout Oregon. Shooting for upland game birds—chukar, Hungarian partridge, pheasant, grouse, and quail—can be good to excellent in eastern and central Oregon, the Cascades, and the coastal ranges. The eastern half of the state as well as the Willamette Valley, Columbia River basin, and coastal areas offer waterfowl hunting.
Wild turkeys, introduced successfully on the eastern side of Mount Hood, have proliferated and are now hunted in almost every county of the state. Bigger game includes elk, black bears, cougars, black-tailed deer in western Oregon, and mule deer in the east. A limited number of special tags are also issued for pronghorn, bighorn sheep, and mountain goats.
The rules governing hunting in the state are more complex and variable than those for fishing. Check the regulations carefully for seasons, restrictions, and bag limits, and again, consult the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website (www.dfw.state.or.us) for the latest information.
by Judy Jewell and W. C. McRae from Moon Oregon, 8th Edition, © Elizabeth & Mark Morris and Avalon Travel