Oregon is well known for its salmon and there is nothing more exciting to do on your vacation to Oregon than to go salmon fishing on the Columbia river. You and your kids will love getting to reel in the big one. Plus, while you fish you get to enjoy pristine views of Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens, and the Columbia gorge area.

salmon fishing

Salmon fishing on the Columbia river photo by Meagan Shamy

Recently I took my boys salmon fishing on the Columbia river in Portland, Oregon and I was blown away by what a great experience it was and how beautiful the scenery was. Oregon is known for its beauty and you can get some great views when you are out on the Columbia River. We could see Mt. Hood and Mount St. Helens.

We went out with Triple S Guide Service and I couldn’t have asked for it to have gone any better. My boys are far apart in age and they both had a great time. How many activities can you do that keep a nine year old just as entertained as a teenager?

Both kids loved catching their own fish and I must say I was pretty thrilled when I caught one myself. Spring salmon tend to weigh around 20 pounds, so they are big! My oldest son made the biggest catch of the day, his weighed 22 pounds, mine weighed 18 pounds, and my little guy caught a 12 pounder.


As a single mom I was a little nervous about taking the boys fishing. I mean, I don’t fish very much. I have extremely limited experience and I certainly do not know anything about salmon fishing. That is why it is so important to find a good fishing guide to take you. Here are some tips on finding a good fishing guide:

  • Local expert – When looking for a guide make sure they are local. Our guide was born and raised in Oregon and grew up fishing on the river we went out on.
  • Provides necessary equipment – Also factor in needs. For example, I do not own any fishing fishing equipment. That meant that I needed all gear to be provided.
  • Works well with children – Our guide has three children of his own and I knew this. Any time you are going to take kids on an activity like this that lasts over three hours, you definitely want someone who is good at working with kids.
  • Cleans and fillets the fish – An added bonus was that our guide, Lee, fillets and cleans the fish for you. This was not something I thought about ahead of time, but boy, I was relieved when I realized that he would do this for me.

A whole other issue was how to dress. Again, with limited experience I was unsure what exactly we should wear. We went on a nice day, but it was in early April so it was still pretty chilly outside. If it is cool outside it will be even colder on the river. I recommend wearing layers or at least taking some items so you can layer if needed. My little guy was way colder than my older boy, so it was nice to have layers. I also recommend taking some hot hands and hot feet packets with you. Kids can get cold, so it never hurts to have something to warm them up.

What to Wear Salmon Fishing

  • Wind pants or ski pants
  • Wind jacket or ski jacket
  • Long sleeve shirt
  • Hoodie
  • Jeans
  • Rain boots
  • Hat
  • Gloves
  • Sunglasses

Of course don’t forget to pack all the other stuff you might need like an external battery pack and charging cord, because you do not want to miss getting photos. Snacks, water, tissues, sunscreen, chap-stick, baby wipes, water proof camera, and coffee for mom are all must-packs, too.

Salmon Recipes

Now you maybe wondering what I did with all that fish we are holding in the photos. Well, I cooked it and ate it. I had never cooked fish before. (No, I’m not exaggerating.) So, I was a little unsure of how to cook it. I have two ways I can recommend; both were given to me by friends and I’ve tried both. They were both excellent, but completely different.

Salmon recipe #1

Make a marinade for your salmon with:

1/4 c veg oil
1/4 c soy sauce
2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 clove garlic minced
1/2 tsp dried thyme
Then you can grill or bake it in oven wrapped in foil at 350 degrees. Check it around 30 minutes. Cook until it flakes with a fork.

Salmon recipe #2

Use foil to make a boat around your salmon. Spread mayonnaise over the top of the salmon, then sprinkle Traeger Salmon Shake seasoning generously across the top. Grill for 20 – 30 minutes in your Traeger at 375 degrees.

Salmon fishing with Triple S Guide Service