What Fish are in the Columbia River: A Comprehensive Guide

Are you planning a fishing trip to the Columbia River and curious about what fish you might be able to catch? Well, let me tell you, the Columbia River is a treasure trove of different fish species that are just waiting to be caught!

From the mouthwatering Chinook salmon to the prehistoric White Sturgeon, the Columbia River has something for every type of angler. And don’t forget about the hard-fighting Smallmouth Bass or the elusive Bull Trout! In this guide, we’re going to take a closer look at the different types of fish that you can expect to find in the Columbia River, including their unique characteristics and the best techniques for catching them.

But the Columbia River isn’t just a great place to catch fish. It’s also a beautiful and powerful natural wonder, flowing over 1,200 miles from its source in the Rocky Mountains all the way to the Pacific Ocean. So, whether you’re an experienced angler or simply looking to immerse yourself in the great outdoors, the Columbia River has something for everyone. So, let’s dive in and explore the amazing fishery that is the Columbia River!

Introduction to the Columbia River

Before we dive into the different fish species, let’s first talk about the Columbia River. The Columbia River is the largest river in the Pacific Northwest region of North America, flowing over 1,200 miles from its source in the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. It is a major source of hydroelectric power and irrigation, as well as a popular spot for fishing and recreational activities.

Fishing on the Columbia River

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Salmon and Steelhead

One of the most sought-after fish species in the Columbia River are salmon and steelhead. These fish are famous for their large size and delicious taste, and attract anglers from all over the world.

Chinook Salmon

Chinook salmon, also known as king salmon, are the largest of the salmon species found in the Columbia River. They can grow up to 50 pounds and are known for their rich, buttery flavor. Chinook salmon are typically caught in the lower Columbia River from Astoria to Bonneville Dam.

Coho Salmon

Coho salmon, also known as silver salmon, are another popular species in the Columbia River. They are smaller than Chinook salmon, typically weighing between 8 and 12 pounds, but are still prized for their flavor and fight. Coho salmon are typically caught from mid-August to mid-September in the lower Columbia River.

Steelhead

Steelhead are a type of trout that migrate to the ocean and return to freshwater to spawn, similar to salmon. They are known for their acrobatic jumps and hard fighting, making them a favorite among anglers. Steelhead are typically caught in the upper Columbia River and its tributaries from October to April.

Sturgeon

Another species that can be found in the Columbia River is sturgeon. Sturgeon are a prehistoric fish that can live up to 100 years and grow to massive sizes. They are known for their bony plates and long snouts, and are often caught using a bottom fishing rig.

White Sturgeon

White sturgeon are the largest freshwater fish in North America, growing up to 20 feet in length and weighing over 1,000 pounds. They are typically caught in the lower Columbia River from Astoria to Bonneville Dam.

Green Sturgeon

Green sturgeon are another species of sturgeon that can be found in the Columbia River. They are smaller than white sturgeon, typically growing up to 7 feet in length, and are typically caught in the upper Columbia River.

Trout

Trout are a popular freshwater fish species that can be found in the Columbia River and its tributaries. There are several species of trout that can be found in the Columbia River, including rainbow, brown, and bull trout.

Rainbow Trout

Rainbow trout are the most common species of trout found in the Columbia River. They are known for their colorful appearance and delicious taste, and are typically caught using fly fishing techniques.

Brown Trout

Brown trout are another species of trout that can be found in the Columbia River. They are larger than rainbow trout, typically weighing between 1 and 5 pounds, and are known for their aggressive strikes.

Bull Trout

Bull trout are a threatened species that can be found in the upper Columbia River and its tributaries. They are known for their large size and fierce fighting ability, and are typically caught using lures and bait.

Walleye

Walleye are a popular game fish that can be found in the Columbia River and its tributaries. They are known for their sweet, white flesh and are typically caught using jigging and trolling techniques.

Smallmouth Bass

Smallmouth bass are another popular game fish that can be found in the Columbia River. They are known for their hard fighting ability and are typically caught using spinnerbaits and crankbaits.

Catfish

Catfish are a bottom-dwelling species that can be found in the Columbia River. They are known for their whiskers and are typically caught using stinkbaits and cut bait.

Trout and Salmon Fishing Tips

If you’re planning to fish for trout or salmon in the Columbia River, here are some tips to help you increase your chances of success:

  • Use the right gear: Make sure you have the right fishing rod, reel, and line for the type of fish you’re targeting.
  • Know the regulations: Familiarize yourself with the fishing regulations in the area you’ll be fishing, including bag limits and size restrictions.
  • Use the right bait: Use bait that is appropriate for the species you’re targeting. For example, use eggs or sand shrimp for salmon and steelhead, and nightcrawlers or lures for trout.
  • Fish at the right time: Fish during the peak feeding times for the species you’re targeting, typically early morning and late afternoon.
  • Fish in the right spots: Look for areas with deep pools and fast-moving currents, as these are often where fish congregate.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any regulations I should be aware of when fishing in the Columbia River?

Yes, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the fishing regulations in the area you’ll be fishing, including bag limits and size restrictions.

What is the best time of day to fish for salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River?

The best time to fish for salmon and steelhead is typically early morning and late afternoon, during the peak feeding times for these species.

What is the best bait to use for trout fishing in the Columbia River?

The best bait to use for trout fishing in the Columbia River depends on the species you’re targeting. Nightcrawlers and lures are a good option for rainbow and brown trout, while bait such as salmon eggs and sand shrimp are better for steelhead.

What is the best technique for catching sturgeon in the Columbia River?

The best technique for catching sturgeon in the Columbia River is bottom fishing using a rig with heavy weights and large hooks.

What is the best way to prepare and cook the fish caught in the Columbia River?

The best way to prepare and cook fish caught in the Columbia River depends on the species. Some popular methods include grilling, smoking, and pan-frying.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Columbia River is a rich and diverse ecosystem that offers a wide range of fish species for anglers to catch. From the prized Chinook salmon and giant White Sturgeon to the feisty Smallmouth Bass and elusive Bull Trout, there is something for every type of angler. By understanding the characteristics and behaviors of each species and using the right techniques and gear, anglers can increase their chances of success on their next fishing trip to the Columbia River.

Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a beginner, the Columbia River offers a unique and exciting fishing experience. So grab your gear, head to the river, and see what you can catch. But don’t forget to follow the fishing regulations and practice responsible angling to ensure the sustainability of this amazing fishery for future generations to enjoy.