Oregon’s oldest city is located right at the mouth of the Columbia River, where it then flows into the Pacific. It’s just one of the things that make fishing in Astoria an experience to put right on top of your bucket list. Lewis and Clark stopped their expedition here more than 200 years ago, and we can certainly see why. With fishing like this, we wouldn’t want to leave either!
This is an incredibly diverse fishery that can easily tailor to any kind of angler, from grizzled professionals to greenhorns and casual casters. Astoria really comes alive in June and July when everyone and their mother is on the water, rod in hand. So stick with us as we walk you through everything that makes this city worth your time and money.
What species can I catch fishing in Astoria?
Even if you’ve never set foot in Oregon, you may have heard about the excellent Salmon fishing gracing the Columbia River. While we understand the appeal, we want to let you know that it’s only the tip of the iceberg. Not only does Astoria have a number of other freshwater species worth your while, but it’s also a perfect starting point for a deep sea expedition. Without further ado, we present Astoria’s cream of the crop:
It’s hardly a surprise for anyone in the know about Astoria fishing that Salmon easily take the top spot on pure merit. Thanks to the big numbers of Chinook, Coho, and Sockeye Salmon across the local waterways, Astoria has become synonymous with quality Salmon fishing. After all, there’s only one thing better than freshly cooked Salmon – freshly-cooked Salmon that you reeled in with your own hands!
Because of the many different species available for fishing in these parts, Salmon fishing in Astoria has two phases. The season kicks off in spring when the first Chinooks join the party. They’re followed by Coho and Sockeye around mid-June, and the good times will last up until the end of October. Then it’s time to change gears or take a breather until next year.
Rainbow Trout (Steelhead)
Rainbow Trout are similar to Salmon in that they migrate between coastal and fresh waters during the year. Anglers across the US adore these “Silver Bullets” for their ferocious fighting power, so be ready for a fight that sends the heart racing. And if you decide to keep some for dinner, all the better.
Because it’s home to both wild and hatchery Steelhead, you can fish for this species at pretty much any time of the year. That being said, the Steelie peak season is in the fall and winter when they spawn. Fly anglers will want to take special note – these fish aren’t picky eaters and are commonly caught using larger flies on a sinking line.
Easily the largest game fish in the area, you’ll find White Sturgeon in the local rivers, coastal bays, and estuaries. The monsters have been known to grow over 7 feet in size while weighing hundreds of pounds. If you manage to get one of these on the other end of your line, you’ll quickly see why they’re sometimes called “dinosaurs” among anglers.
Those of you looking to chase down these ancient creatures should do so between June and September. That’s when they’re on the prowl after bait fish that enter the Columbia River in summer. Another thing to keep in mind when Sturgeon fishing is that they’re attracted to scent rather than movement. Because of this, local anglers will coat their lures in shrimp, sardine, or shad oil – it works wonders.
Some may underestimate Astoria’s saltwater action, but they couldn’t be more wrong. The excellent Lingcod fishing is all the proof we need. These bottom feeders regularly reach up to 45 inches, so heavy tackle is a must. They live around offshore reefs and prefer to stay in the deepest waters they can find.
One of the things that make Lingcod fishing in Astoria so great is that you can do it year-round. As long as the weather is good enough to head offshore, you can cast off on a bottom fishing adventure. Having said that, you should still aim for the winter season if you’re looking to reel in the biggest Lingcod in town. It’s the only species other than Steelhead with a good winter bite around these parts.
Another popular offshore bottom fish, you’ll find Halibut on the same grounds that Lingcod tend to inhabit. These are some of the largest Flatfish you’ll find anywhere in the States – a good reason for fishing them in its own right. Needless to say, Halibut are also a delicacy on the dinner table, so what else could you need?
While in many ways similar to Lingcod, one of the places where they differ is their seasonality. Peak Halibut season in Astoria runs from May through September, with the rest of the year being closed for fishing. Like with Lingcod, you’ll need to head into the Pacific if you want to get your hands on one of these tasty fish.
Last, but not least, we have Tuna, the final piece to the puzzle that is Astoria offshore fishing. You’ll find that fishing for Albacore Tuna is one of the most exciting angling experiences money can buy. Just imagine one of these silvery beasts slamming into your bait at 30 miles per hour, daring you to try and stop it. That’s what we call action-packed fishing right there!
Albacores like to move in large schools, so when you hook one up it’s only the beginning. The prime window for Tuna fishing is a short one in Astoria, giving you only a few months to experience the best of the best. While it’s possible to find them at other times of the year, we’d recommend sticking with July–September for ideal fishing conditions.
How to Go Fishing in Astoria
Like with any good fishery, you can explore Astoria’s waters in several different ways. It can be as simple as packing your gear and heading out to the nearest lake, or as involved as booking your own private vessel for a 12-hour adventure. We’ll give you a brief rundown and leave you to pick whatever option works best for you.
Surf and Kayak Fishing
It really doesn’t have to be more complicated than fishing the Columbia River or one of the many local lakes on foot, on your own, or with a guide. Most of the time you’ll want to be fishing in the morning, as the water will be warm enough for the fish to be out and about. There’s plenty of room here, even in the peak season, so you won’t be tangling lines with other anglers any time soon.
If you want a more intimate experience with this fishery, then you should consider bringing or renting a kayak. Riding on a kayak gives you extra mobility as well as easy access to prime fishing spots like Buoy 10 – but more on those in a bit. Every year sees more yakkers join in on the action, so why not get in while the going is good?
Those of you planning a group trip with friends or family should definitely consider hiring a fishing charter during your stay in Astoria. This is by far the most convenient way to experience the fishery if it’s your first time here. The majority of local captains are seasoned professionals who know the local regulations and popular honey holes by heart. With that kind of support, you’re set up for success.
Of course, fishing with a charter boat is the best and only way to go fishing in the Pacific. Offshore trips tend to be on the long side, and being on a comfortable boat makes all the difference when your joints start aching after hours of fighting big fish.
Top Fishing Spots in Astoria
A cursory look at the map below will show you that the Columbia River is where the main action happens. That said, there still are a bunch of other places worth your attention. Let’s take a look at some of them:
- Columbia River. The region’s longest waterway hosts some of the finest angling action in the Pacific Northwest. With a healthy population of Salmon, Sturgeon, Bass, and more, it’s a one-stop shop for all your freshwater fishing needs.
- Buoy 10. Located just inside the Columbia River mouth, Buoy 10 is the reason why so many anglers flock to Astoria from across the state. This area is chock-full of Salmon, with the local jumbo-sized Chinooks particularly deserving of a shout-out.
- Coffenbury Lake. Located inside Fort Stevens State Park, you won’t find a better Trout fishery for miles around. Being one of the few local lakes that are commonly stocked with jumbo-sized Rainbows in September, you can count on it to give you a run for your money.
- Klaskanine River. To the southeast of Astoria proper, you’ll find the Klaskanine River in all its glory. This is a versatile fishery, primarily known for its winter Steelhead fishing. While not as popular, Chinook fishing in spring and fall also makes it worth a visit.
Fishing in Astoria FAQ
Do you need a license to fish in Astoria?
- Yes. All anglers over the age of 12 need to have an Oregon fishing license to cast a line in Astoria. Anglers fishing in the Columbia River will also need a Columbia River Basin Endorsement.
Are there sea lions in Astoria?
- You bet! If you have the time, go over to Pier 39 and check out the local wild sea lions while they’re sunbathing.
Astoria: World-Class Fishing at Oregon’s Northwestern Tip
Ever since 1811, fishing has been an integral part of Astoria’s daily life. Back in the 1880s, almost 20% of its residents were fishers. It’s far from a quaint little fishing town today, but the angling here is as good as it’s ever been. You should give it a go at least once, be it in the Columbia River or further out in the Pacific. It’s great fishing all the way down!
Have you ever been fishing in Astoria? Any tips to share with our readers or catches to brag about? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.