CLACKAMAS, Ore. – Strong expected returns of spring chinook salmon are buoying fishing prospects on the Sandy River this summer, according to Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists.

“We have a good return of spring chinook this year and fishing conditions are excellent,” said Todd Alsbury, fish biologist for ODFW’s North Willamette Watershed District. Alsbury said an estimated 6,000 spring chinook are expected to return to the Sandy River basin this year and many are still yet to arrive. Of the total, approximately 4,000 are hatchery fish, identified by clipped adipose fins, and are available for harvest. Wild fish must be immediately released unharmed under state fishing regulations.

The Sandy is open for fishing from its confluence with the Columbia near Troutdale approximately 35 miles upstream with its confluence with the Salmon River near Brightwood. Public access to the river is available at the following locations:

• Mouth of the Salmon River off Barlow Trail Road
• The former Marmot Dam site
• Marsh Road near Dodge Park
• Mouth of Cedar Creek below ODFW’s Sandy Fish Hatchery
• Oxbow State Park
• Dodge Park
• Dabney State Park
• Lewis & Clark State Park
• Along Crown Point Hwy. next to the river between Lewis & Clark and

Dabney state parks

The Sandy is closed to salmon fishing above its confluence with the Salmon River but is open from July 1 to August 31 for retention of steelhead.
The best fishing is likely going to be between the Salmon River mouth downstream to Oxbow Park, according to Alsbury. “The fish don’t seem to be holding in the lower river due to many of the typical holding pools being filled with sediment coming down from the upper basin,” he said, “but you still might pick a spring chinook or even a summer steelhead on its way through to the upper river.”

Alsbury noted that the dynamics of the Sandy River chinook fishery have changed in recent years. He said that as with many spring chinook populations in the Columbia and Willamette fish now return later than in years past. Catch rates have fallen off as well, as anglers are generally not accustomed to fishing for spring chinook beyond the month of June.
“People just aren’t used to fishing for spring chinook in the middle of the summer, in July,” he said, adding, “This is a great time for an outing on one of Oregon’s most scenic rivers.”

Sandy River chinook generally weigh in at 8-15 pounds but can reach 30 pounds, according to Alsbury, who suggested anglers who target these prized fish look for deep holes and fish early in the morning and late in the evening on sunny days. “Once the sun gets up on the water your chances go way down,” he said.

Alsbury said effective presentations include a bobber and eggs/sand shrimp, spoons, and wet flies. Summer steelhead are also present this time of year and are more apt to hit a bobber and jig, small spoon or spinner.