Top 10 best Fall salmon fishing destinations in the Pacific Northwest

The best fishing guides in Oregon

Top 10 best Fall salmon fishing destinations in the Pacific Northwest


The Pacific Northwest is one of the most renowned salmon fishing destinations in the world with millions of salmon returning the region to spawn every year. Anglers from around the globe come to the Pacific Northwest for a shot at these amazing fish and if you happen to find yourself in the Northwest Territory, among the Red Woods Forest our further up North in the Evergreen State, you’re in the right place for some prime time salmon fishing.

With that in mind let us introduce our number ten for the top ten fall salmon fishing destinations in the Pacific Northwest.


  1. Klamath River

Klamath River Spit by Linda Tanner


The Klamath River in Northern California has been a top go to spot in the Pacific Northwest for generations. Mostly for its healthy Fall Chinook runs and both summer and winter steelhead fishing. Fall chinook can reach the 30-50 lbs range and steelhead in the Klamath typically range between 3-6 lbs for the summer run and 5-8 for winter steelhead. During the beginning of the Chinook salmon season you can find anglers lined up on the sandy banks of the mouth of the river, catching the mighty Chinook salmon which is the largest of the salmon species.

Further up river boater will target the fish all the way to Klamath Falls where the action is pretty much nonstop until the run is done. Californians as well as anglers from around the region love to fish this body of water and are rarely disappointed of they make the trip. Keep in mind however, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife are known for shutting the fishery down at a whim if the numbers are lower than they want. Never fear however, there are plenty of other great fall salmon fishing destinations available which leads us to our 9th best salmon fishing destination in the region.


  1. Rogue River

The Rogue River in Southwest Oregon is known for chinooks salmon that are larger than life. With fall chinook commonly caught in the 60lbs range this fishery is not for the faint of heart. The Rogue is also known for some pretty big steelhead with reports of 20 plus pounders being fairly common. The Rogue offers some fall salmon fishing that’s hard to beat, anglers from around the globe come to the Rogue to take advantage of on some of the largest salmon available anywhere in the world.


  1. Quillayute River


The Quillayute River on the Olympic Peninsula may only be a couple miles long but is well known for some big salman and steelhead. Not only that, the Quillayute is tributary of the Solduc, Dickey, Calawah, and Bogacheil rivers. All known for exceptional salmon and steelhead habitat as well as healthy fish populations.  These four rivers as well as the Quillayute was one of the last tributaries that wild steelhead retention was allowed until just a few years ago.


  1. Sandy River

Travis Dupell with a Sandy River Steelhead courtesy of Columbia River Fishing Adventures



The Sandy River in Oregon is one of the best kept secrets Oregon steelhead fishing guides never tell anyone about. It hosts excellent salmon and steelhead populations and is one of the better fisheries in and around Portland. This tributary is just past the Willamette and a must go during the fall salmon or winter steelhead seasons. Known for spring and fall chinook as well as winter steelhead the Sandy is a sure fire hit if you in the Portland area.


  1. Wilson River

Wilson River Fall Chinook Courtesy of Schmidtys Guide Service


The Wilson River in Oregon offers king salmon and steelhead fishing at its best. This small river system has been a top producer for years. The brood stock program on the Wilson has allowed anglers opportunities at some steelhead in the 20 lbs. range and the Fall chinook fishing is one of the best in the state. Thus there’s no way we would leave the Wilson out of our top ten best fall salmon fishing destinations in the Pacific Northwest.


  1. Skagit River


The Skagit offers Kings, Coho, pinks, and sockeye and is a must go if you’re planning on being in the Seattle area. The Skagit about 40 minutes North of Seattle in Mt. Vernon is without a doubt the best salmon fishing spot on the I-5 corridor. Anglers can be found lined up on the sandy banks of the Skagit at Edgewater Park plunking sand shrimp behind a spin glow or casting spinners working them from bank to bank. Some guys will drift soft fishing beads under a float as well and all can produce depending on what’s hot. The Skagit is also one of the only river where sockeye salmon fishing is allowed but generally the season is short and only lasts a couple of weeks. Fall Chinook fishing can be good but Coho is the name of the game on the Skagit. Still every other year the Pinks invade the river system and the sheer numbers alone make it fairly hard not the catch then during the Pink season. All in all the Skagit is an easy top five for fall salmon fishing in the Pacific Northwest and we hope you get a chance to enjoy this great fishery.


  1. Cowltiz River

Cowlitz River Steelhead Courtesy of Bill Swan


The Cowlitz is an upper tier salmon and steelhead fishery offering chinook and has been for years. Even though the steelhead summer steelhead runs aren’t quite what they used to be there’s still plenty of fish to be had. The water levels on the Cowlitz are controlled by the dam so the fishing is generally very consistent. As the smelt come to the Cowlitz in the spring to spawn so do the Spring Chinook. Feeding upon the smelt along the way. As fall rolls around chinook and Coho fishing are the name of the game with one of the best Coho populations in the state. As we roll into the winter is time for steelhead fishing galore. With ample fish to curb the appetite of any avid Northwest Steelheader.


  1. Umatilla River

Umatilla River USFS


Umatilla is home of some real monsters. The Oregon state record king salmon was caught on the Umatilla weighting in at an amazing 83 lbs. This river has it all. Spring and fall salmon fishing, summer and winter steelhead, hell even some bass. The Umatilla is an angler paradise with ample opportunity for excellent fishing pretty much year round.


  1. Willamette River

Willamette River Spring Chinook – Buddy Dupell


The Willamette is one of the most consistent fisheries in the state of Oregon. Kings, Coho, and steelhead can be caught from the mouth to several of the Willamette’s tributaries like the Clackamas, Yam Hill, and Santiam. All these rivers are places where Oregon salmon fishing guides and fall salmon anglers alike congregate for a chance at filling the freezer with some fresh caught fish. The Willamette is by far our second best place to catch fall salmon in the Pacific Northwest and many Oregonians would agree. After all they have been catching limits for generations on the Willamette and we understand why. Healthy fish populations spells good fishing.


  1. Columbia River

Chinook limits on the Columbia with Columbia River Fishing Adventures


The Columbia River is the King of the hill in regards to fall salmon fishing in the Pacific Northwest. Hundreds of thousands of Fall Chinook and Coho run the Columbia year after year. The deep cold waters of the Columbia run from the Pacific ocean splitting the border between Oregon and Washington and turns to cut Washington in half as it run all the way up into the hills of Canada. There are literally millions of fish in this river and the fall season as well as winter steelhead are hard to beat. The Columbia host the largest salmon population in the Pacific Northwest and is known as a world class salmon fishing destination. From the Mouth to Hells Canyon you’ll find salmon and anglers abound. The sheer number of places to fish on the Columbia is amazing. There are hundreds of great fishing holes and opportunities for sockeye, chinook, coho, steelhead, sturgeon, walleye, bass and more. The Columbia is without a doubt an angler paradise and we love to fish this body of water year after year.


Trolling bait or spinners is always a winner on the Columbia and if you know what your doing very seldom would you come home empty handed. The Columbia is our number one for the top 10 best Fall salmon fishing destinations in the Pacific Northwest and once you get out on the water for yourself we’re sure you’ll understand exactly why. If your interested in booking a Columbia River Fall Salmon fishing trip. Give Buddy Dupell of Columbia River Fishing Adventures as call at 503-490-3099 and book your trip today.

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