Our Ask Oregon fishing ambassador David Johnson shows off his catch with his wife, Tesha. (Photo credit: David Johnson)

A little rain doesn’t scare David Johnson. After 19 years as a fishing guide, he knows that the rains bring in fall fishing season. This time of year, he is waiting for the start of fall chinook and coho salmon. “They come into bays and wait for the first rains of fall,” he says.

Johnson says fall chinook, which peak in October, can be caught in almost any coastal river in Oregon. They are fun to catch because they are big — usually 20 pounds and sometimes as large as 40 or 50.

Though fishing for wild coho has been restricted in recent years, this year, 11 areas are open for coho. “It is only the second season since 2003 that they have let us keep them, so that is kind of exciting,” he says. Those regions are the Nehalem, Tillamook Bay, Nestucca, Siletz, Yaquina, Alsea, Siuslaw, Umpqua, Coos and Coquille rivers as well as Tenmile Lakes.

Johnson takes people boat fishing at locations up and down the coast. For bank fishing, he recommends the Salmon River near Lincoln City, Bob Straub State Park in Pacific City and the North Fork Nehalem Hatchery.

Crabbing season starts in earnest in fall, too. Johnson, who crabs more recreationally than professionally, suggests Tillamook and Netarts bays, as well as Hammond at the mouth of the Columbia River. “It’s really big water there. You need a sturdy boat,” he says.

Alsea Bay outside of Waldport, Nehalem Bay near Wheeler, Yaquina Bay in Newport and Tillamook Bay in Garibaldi are great locations for crabbing right from the dock, making it a great family activity.

For regulations, limits, licenses and updates, visit the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife website. Have a question about fishing? Send Johnson a question from our Ask Oregon page.

about author Eileen Garvin

Eileen Garvin lives and writes in Hood River. When she’s not hunched over her keyboard or digging in the garden, you can find her mountain biking, kiteboarding, hiking, skiing or camping somewhere in Oregon.

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These maps and directions are for planning purposes only. You may find that construction projects, traffic, or other events may cause road conditions to differ from the map results. For travel options, weather and road conditions, visit, call 511 (in Oregon only), 800.977.6368 or 503.588.2941.

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  1. Claude Morita says…

    Are the salmon really coming back? As a kid in Hood River (1930s), we used to watch spawning salmon came up the creeks. And Celilo Falls was a busy place for Native American dip netters who caught monsters. We used to drink the water out of the flumes that ran through the valley. Then, there are matsutake — thanks for restoring a little faith.

    Written on October 1st, 2012 / Flag this Comment
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