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Sturgeon fishing near Downtown Portland

Updated: Oct 5


Bill Matthews Outdoors

One in the boat, one on the hook! Sturgeon fishing near downtown Portland!


Looking for a uniquely Northwest way to spend a morning in Portland Oregon? Book a half day fishing trip for Sturgeon on the Willamette River near Downtown Portland - it is a trip you will never forget.


The Willamette River runs right through Downtown Portland. This magnificent river is lined with beautiful homes, hosts some amazing salmon & steelhead runs and is home to the largest freshwater fish species found in North America - the White Sturgeon.


Here is a description of the White Sturgeon from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife:

Features: There's no mistaking a sturgeon. This primitive looking fish has large bony plates running down its back, a long flat snout, and a deeply-forked tail. It's also covered in rough, scale-less skin, similar to a shark. Though they can reach lengths of 20 feet, most white sturgeon rarely get over 10-feet long, which seems plenty long to us. Some populations migrate between the ocean and freshwater, but not necessarily with the same consistency as salmon or steelhead. These prehistoric fish may live well over 100 years, and may not mature until they are 25-years-old.

To learn more visit the ODFW Website.


Sturgeon fishing in the Willamette river is primarily a catch and release fishery. It does open it for retention occasionally, but you are really after the experience and a picture - a picture you will treasure forever!


I recently booked a trip with my good friend and fishing guide, Dave Eng. Dave is always dialed into the local fishing scene and since Salmon fishing was slow, he suggested we Sturgeon fish in the morning and then troll for salmon later in the day. I only had 1/2 of a day so I was happy with the plan.


We met at 6:30AM at the Jefferson Street Boat ramp - not far from downtown Portland. We were joined by Connor Allison of Columbia Sportswear. Dave already had the boat in the water so we jumped aboard and were off in no time.


After a short boat ride, Dave dropped anchor and baited up 3 rods with a combination of sand shrimp and smelt, and then added a shot off Atlas Mikes Lunker Lotion in Sturgeon Scent. We were using VMC hook and Suffix 80 pound 832 braid. He casted the rods out and let them sink to the bottom, then we waited.


It only took a few minutes and Connor’s rod got a bite. It was a very subtle movement of the rod tip, but we knew it was a bite. Connor took the rod out of the rod holder and waited for the next tug to set the hook. As the rod tip bent down with the next bite, Connor set the hook on a beautiful Willamette River Sturgeon. It took at least five minutes to land this dinosaur of a fish. We were able to get a couple of quick pictures before we released it back into the river.

Connnor with a beautiful Willamette River Sturgeon.


Dave put new bait on Connor’s rod and casted it back out. Within just a few minutes my rod got a bite and I set the hook. It felt like I set the hook on a log - it hardly moved at all, and then I felt the head shake. It was another nice sturgeon, and it kicked my butt getting it to the boat. I am always amazed at the strength, power and size of these fish.


The action continued for the next hour, we hooked and landed at least 6 of these beautiful fish. It is an incredible experience that is available right in our backyard, and surprising few anglers partake in this fishery when it is catch and release.

Dave Eng with a small sturgeon


Dave asked us if we had had enough, and we both said yes! Dave then put up the sturgeon gear and got out the Salmon rods. We trolled for Salmon within eyesight of downtown Portland, but we did not get any bites before I had to leave.

Trolling for Salmon near Downtown Portland

Dave dropped me off at the dock and continued fishing with Connor. Later that day they texted me a picture of a beautiful wild Spring Chinook they caught.

it was a great day of fishing, and one that I highly recommend if you are in the Portland area.

Book a trip with Dave Eng on his website: Fisheng Guide Service


Thanks for reading,


Bill