Salmon seasons open on Oregon Coast, and forecasts look good
There will be plenty of opportunities to catch salmon this year on the Oregon Coast, both in the ocean and the bays and rivers, and forecasts show strong runs of kings are expected back to Chetco and Rogue rivers, while the ocean coho salmon prediction is well above average.
State regulators in California made the decision to shut down salmon fishing in the ocean, as well as Sacramento, Klamath, Trinity, Smith and other rivers. Drought conditions four years ago impacted salmon runs on the Sacramento and Klamath rivers. Oregon rivers, however, are open as normal, while ocean anglers will be allowed to fish for hatchery coho salmon. Huge numbers of coho salmon produced by state and tribal hatcheries on the Columbia River are expected to fuel a summer-long ocean salmon season in Oregon.
The ocean salmon season opens June 17 out of Brookings. Since the bulk of the king salmon caught in the ocean on the Southern Oregon Coast during the summer originate from the Sacramento and Klamath rivers (those salmon spend the ocean portion of their lives feeding off of Oregon and Northern California instead of migrating to Alaska), no kings can be kept on the Oregon Coast this summer. But biologists predict an ocean abundance of coho salmon from the Columbia River and Oregon Coast streams to be more than 1 million fish. That has led to a 110,000-fish quota this summer from Brookings to Tillamook. Anglers can keep two hatchery coho salmon a day June 17-Aug. 31. During the early part of the season, Brookings often has the best catch rates on the Oregon Coast, as the Columbia River coho salmon journey south into California as juveniles, then make their way back up the coast as they migrate back to their home rivers after two years in the ocean. Peak season for ocean coho is the second half of June and first half of July.
Wild Rivers Fishing and Brookings Fishing Charters offers salmon trips daily, weather permitting. Each of the Wild Rivers Fishing guides – Andy Martin, Rye Phillips, Travis Sallander, Mick Thomas and Sam Stover – are also charter boat captains and run charter boats out of Brookings during the summer months.
Coho are caught trolling anchovies or herring, or spinners behind flashers. Each summer, the Brookings Fishing Charters captains enjoy the highest catch rates of any ocean charter company in Brookings for salmon, as each of the captains are longtime salmon fishing guides. Action is often fast and furious, with multiple hookups, and fish-after-fish action during a hot bite.
The Rogue Bay is expecting another strong salmon return. The spring salmon season was the best in recent memory in 2023, with limits throughout the season. Bay fishing begins in June and continues into October. Anglers troll anchovies along the jetties in Gold Beach, up to the Highway 101 bridge over the Rogue. July and August are peak season on the Rogue Bay. Two wild kings a day may be kept, along with five jack salmon. Coho arrive in the bay in September and October.
The Chetco River has some of the largest king salmon on the entire West Coast, and last year’s run was above average. Fishing is expected to be as good, or better, this year. Wild Rivers Fishing begins the season in September, trolling along the jetties. As salmon move upriver, guides begin targeting the kings using roe and sand shrimp fished below bobbers. Back-bouncing roe and running MagLip plugs is the preferred technique as rains increase river flows in October and November. Anglers are allowed to keep two adult salmon a day on the Chetco, one of which may be wild.
The Elk and Sixes rivers near Port Orford, Oregon, also have strong salmon runs. These rivers fish best in late October and early November. Big numbers of hatchery salmon return to the Elk River, home of Elk River Hatchery, while the Sixes has larger wild kings. Catch rates are often highest after the first big rains of fall, but fishing continues well into November on both of these rivers.
Just a few of the salmon from last season on the Chetco River with Wild Rivers Fishing.