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December Fishing Preview for the Pacific Northwest - Next Adventure

December Fishing Preview for the Pacific Northwest

December is here and with that, most of the warm water fisheries we know are finished for the season. That doesn’t mean fishing is done! It’s high time to think about the big three winter fish for the area; steelhead, sturgeon, and walleye. Here in Portland, we’re fortunate to live within an hour and a half of excellent areas for these three fish.  

For steelhead, within the Portland area both the Sandy and Clackamas Rivers have good public access and get a run of hatchery winter steelhead, with some wild fish thrown in the mix as well. If you feel like going for a bit of a drive, the Wilson River on the coast gets a massive hatchery release of steelhead. Think about bobber dogging soft beads or swinging spinners in 4-8-foot-deep sections of river where the water is moving at walking speed. If you don’t catch a steelhead on your first trip, don’t get too discouraged, they don’t call them the fish of a thousand casts for nothing!  

Santa isn’t the only one going on a sleigh ride this December, it could be you if you decide to take advantage of the awesome sturgeon fishing, we have in the Portland area. Grab your kayak, the heaviest rod you have, head to the deepest section of Willamette you can find, drop down your bait of choice (herring and squid are the most popular) and hang on. Popular areas to look for sturgeon are Jurassic Park (it’s a real place—look it up) and Oregon City, but they can be found everywhere in the Willamette and Columbia Rivers. Keep in mind sturgeon fishing is 100% catch and release for the month of December.  

Walleye fishing is quickly becoming a very popular winter fishery in the Pacific Northwest and for good reason, the fish are plentiful, aggressive, and one of the tastiest fish around. The vast majority of the walleye fishing happens in the Columbia River above The Dalles, but there are walleye caught every year in the Lower Columbia as well. They make a great target from the kayak with vertical jigging a blade bait being the most popular technique. The traditional walleye habitat in the Columbia River is a slower section of the river, at least 60 feet deep, and a hard bottom. There’s no limit on them in the Columbia but most people try to be responsible with what they keep, generally all fish over 22” are released, despite there being no regulation on it. 

There’s plenty of opportunities for fishing in the colder months! Just be sure you’re wearing adequate exposure protection and your PFD. Good luck and good fishing! 

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