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Whether you're interested in trolling for salmon or fly-fishing for steelhead, dredging the Columbia for sturgeon or casting a spinner for bass, it may be surprising to learn that some of the best fishing inthe Northwest is only a lure's toss away from the commotion of downtown Portland. Combining a master angler's encyclopedic knowledge of fish behavior with an Oregonian's love for the place, author Jim Yuskavitch shows us more than twenty locations all around the City of Roses, presenting each one with a set of...
Whether you're interested in trolling for salmon or fly-fishing for steelhead, dredging the Columbia for sturgeon or casting a spinner for bass, it may be surprising to learn that some of the best fishing inthe Northwest is only a lure's toss away from the commotion of downtown Portland. Combining a master angler's encyclopedic knowledge of fish behavior with an Oregonian's love for the place, author Jim Yuskavitch shows us more than twenty locations all around the City of Roses, presenting each one with a set of concise driving directions, a quick look at the species to be caught at the location, and an indispensable, thumbnail description of the best techniques to use in order to bring that lunker to hand. Inside you'll find:• Descriptions of the area's game fish • Tips on lures, flies, bait, tackle, and techniques• Information on access and regulations• Maps and photos
Walton Beach, Columbia River, Sauvie Island Wildlife Area
Distance from Downtown Portland: 19 miles
Approximate driving time: 40 minutes
Species Available: winter steelhead, spring Chinook, sturgeon
Best times to Fish: December to March and late February through June
Recommended Lures or Flies: Spin-n-Glo’s, bait
Best Fishing Method: Plunking, bottom fishing with bait
Recommended Map: Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Sauvie Island
Wildlife Area Map
Oregon Angling License
Sauvie Island Wildlife Area Parking Permit
Combined Angling Tag (for salmon, steelhead, sturgeon and halibut)
Hatchery Harvest Tag (optional, to catch additional hatchery salmon
Two-rod Angling License (optional, to use two rods at the same time)
From Portland, drive about 10 miles west on Highway 30 towards Scappoose. About two miles north of Linton turn right and cross the bridge onto Sauvie Island at the stoplight. Immediately after crossing Multnomah Channel, turn left onto NW Sauvie Island Rd. Continue on NW Sauvie Island Rd., bearing right at NW Reeder Road. Beginning at about the 9-mile mark from the bridge there is extensive parking along the road on the left. Access to the Columbia River shoreline is via several stairways that lead over the berm.
Sauvie Island Wildlife Area is managed by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and requires a daily parking permit, which can be purchased at Sam’s Cracker Barrel (15000 NW Sauvie Island Rd.), Reeder Beach RV Park (26048 NW Reeder Rd.), Island Cove Café (31421 NW Reeder Rd.) and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Sauvie Island Wildlife Area headquarters (18330 NW Sauvie Island Rd.).
Walton Beach is a noted location to catch Columbia River winter run steelhead, which pass by Sauvie Island each year between December and March. Because the upstream migrating steelhead generally hug the bank in water ranging from 6 to 15 feet deep, these fish are more accessible to bank anglers than in other reaches of the Columbia where the fish travel further out in the river and are best reached by boat.
Beginning at Walton Beach there are several miles of good, open beach access to the river, including Collins Beach, which butts up against Walton Beach to the north.
Although you can cast spinners and spoons to catch steelhead here, plunking is by far the preferred method. You can cast your line out, put it in a rod holder and wait. The essential strategy for successful plunking is to put your offering in a steelhead travel lane, and since it is known the fish run close to the Sauvie Island shoreline, at this location a cast of 20 yards or less will put you in that travel lane. Sooner or later a steelhead will come within striking range of your set-up and hopefully take it.
Spin-n-Glo’s are the preferred lure for plunking at Walton Beach. A basic plunking rig involves tying a 3-way swivel to the end of your line. Add a foot-long leader to the right-angled swivel, to the end of which you will tie a 3- or 4-ounce weight. Tie a 3- to 4-foot leader to the remaining swivel loop. Add the Spin-n-Glo and hook to the end of the line. Hook sizes are usually from a 1/0 to a 4/0. Some anglers like to add bait, such as salmon eggs, or some colored yarn to their rig and others go with the Spin-n-Glo only. Orange and chartreuse are popular colors with Spin-n-Glo anglers. A line weight of 15-pound test or greater is a good idea because it will lessen the chance of breaking off a big fish in the Columbia’s strong currents.
This is also an ideal situation to take advantage of the ODFW Two-rod Angling License and doubling your chances of success. Some anglers tie a bell to their rod tips to tell them when they are getting a hit and which rod is the one requiring attention.
This stretch of Sauvie Island shoreline is also a good destination for spring Chinook salmon fishing. The timing is perfect since by March, as the winter steelhead fishing is slowing down, the springers are beginning to come through. The run in this section of the river typically happens from late February or March through June.
However, the better location for spring Chinook salmon fishing is at Willow Bar located directly on the Columbia County-Multnomah County line. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife opens the access road specifically for the spring Chinook season so anglers can drive out onto the beach. It is not open to motor vehicle access year-round.
To reach Willow Bar from Portland, drive about 10 miles west on Highway 30 towards Scappoose. About two miles north of Linton turn right and cross the bridge onto Sauvie Island at the stoplight. Immediately after crossing Multnomah Channel, turn left onto NW Sauvie Island Rd. Continue on NW Sauvie Island Road, bearing right at NW Reeder Road. Drive about 5 miles, then turn right onto the Willow Bar access road about ¼ mile past Blue Heron Herbary.
The approach to catching spring Chinook here is similar to fishing for winter steelhead a few miles downstream, casting spoons and spinners or plunking, with the latter being the savvy Sauvie Island salmon angler’s preferred method.
If you continue down Reeder Road from Walton Beach north past Collins Beach and the Gilbert River access and boat ramp (where the road becomes gravel) to the end of the road you will be at a favored location for sturgeon fishing. For sturgeon, you will want to bottom-fish with bait such as eel, mud shrimp and smelt. Line in the 40- to 60-pound test range and heavy weights up to a pound or more to keep your bait on the bottom is standard rigging for sturgeon fishing in the Columbia River’s strong current.
Steelhead on the Move
The steelhead you will catch fishing in the Columbia River off Sauvie Island are fish bound for a number of destinations within the Columbia River basin where they will spawn in the streams where they were born. Some are headed up the Willamette, Deschutes, John Day and Grande Ronde river basins in Oregon while others will continue into Idaho and Washington. Steelhead spawning runs are divided into two groups, winter run and summer run, depending upon when they enter freshwater from the ocean. Winter fish are usually larger when they enter freshwater and spawn sooner than summer run fish, which may remain in their natal stream for several months before spawning. Winter run fish are restricted to streams west of the Cascade Mountains, while steelhead runs east of the Cascades are regarded as summer run, even though you may find them still heading for their spawning grounds in the winter due to the longer distances they must travel. For example, summer run steelhead are still moving up the Deschutes River in December and January, and don’t reach the upper John Day basin until February and March. All steelhead, regardless of whether they are winter or summer run, spawn in the spring, and unlike salmon, don’t necessarily die afterward.
Excerpted from Quick Casts: Portland by Jim Yuskavitch Copyright © 2011 by Jim Yuskavitch. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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I. IntroductionII. Tips and Advice Basic information on fishing in the greater Portland area, overview of available fish species and habitat preferences along with a discussion of anadromous fish run timing and some general fishing advice relating to the fishing locations highlighted in the book. Also reviewed would be angling license and tag requirements, and some important regulations such as those dealing with wild versus hatchery fish. III. Northwest of Portland1. Multnomah Channel, Willamette River Opportunities for salmon, steelhead, shad, sturgeon, bass, walleye, catfish and perch about 40 minutes from Portland. 2. Gilbert River, Sauvie Island Walleye, catfish, sturgeon and bass 50 minutes from Portland. 3. Smith and Bybee Lakes Located about 15 minutes from downtown Portland, crappie, bullhead, bass, bluegill and perch. 4. Willamette and Columbia Rivers, Kelly Point Park Good angling opportunities for sturgeon, salmon and steelhead at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers, 25 minutes from Portland. IV. Southwest of Portland5. St. Louis Ponds Rainbow trout and a variety of warmwater fish 50 minutes from Portland. 6. Henry Hagg Lake Trout, bass, crappie and perch. A 60-minute drive from Portland. 7. Pudding River Cutthroat trout, with small stream fishing opportunities in its tributaries. 45 minutes from Portland. 8. Gales Creek A first-rate and accessible winter steelhead and trout stream 45 minutes from Portland. 9. Tualatin River at Cook Park Good opportunities to use a float tube or pontoon boat to catch bass. About 20 minutes from Portland. 10. Willamette River at George Rogers Park Catch a variety of Willamette River warmwater species where Oswego Creek flows into the main river. 20 minutes from Portland. 11. North Fork Yamhill River Nice, small stream angling for native, wild cutthroat trout 45 minutes from Portland. V. Southeast of Portland12. Clackamas River at Carver Park A 30-minute drive from Portland. Fish available, depending upon the time of year, includes Chinook and coho salmon and steelhead, along with rainbow trout. 13. Clackamas River at Milo McIver Park Chinook and coho salmon, steelhead and rainbow trout. It is a 55-minute drive from Portland. 14. Sandy River at Oxbow Park Excellent bank and wading access 50 minutes from Portland to fish for Chinook salmon, coho salmon and steelhead. 15. Sandy River at Sandy Hatchery A 50-minute drive and 30-minute hike to the Sandy River to catch steelhead and Chinook and coho salmon. 16. Eagle Creek at Bonnie Lure Park Another top, easily accessible Chinook and coho salmon and steelhead stream 45 minutes from Portland. 17. Molalla River A spring Chinook and winter steelhead stream 50 minutes from Portland. 18. Clackamette Park, Willamette River Fishing for salmon, steelhead, sturgeon and warmwater species at the junction of the Willamette and Clackamas rivers 25 minutes from Portland. 19. Estacada Lake A reservoir on the Clackamas River 50 minutes from Portland offers fishing for steelhead, trout, and coho and Chinook salmon. 20. Sandy River at Lewis and Clark State Park Fishing for salmon and steelhead where the Clackamas River enters the Columbia River, 25 minutes from Portland. VI. Northeast of Portland Nearby Fishing in Washington State A brief overview of nearby fishing opportunities across the state line including licensing and tag requirements, and other considerations of note to non-resident anglers.
Posted November 28, 2013