The 4 Best Fish to Catch in Oregon This Summer

Written by Crystal
Published: August 19, 2022
Image Credit lunamarina/Shutterstock.com
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Fresh is the best way to catch lake trout in Oregon this summer. Attaching live bait with weight will help you attract hungry trout waiting below the surface. Along with lake trout, you’ll also find a variety of other game fish.

What are the best fish to catch in Oregon this summer? Read on to find out!

1. Steelhead Trout

Fresh-caught steelhead trout on stones with lure in its mouth
Steelhead trout are rainbow trout that migrated to the ocean.

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Another one of the best fish to catch in Oregon this summer is the steelhead. Steelheads have yellow, green, or blue colors on their sides with silvery bellies. They also have a distinct red stripe running along their body. Steelheads are rainbow trout that moved out of freshwater rivers to the ocean. They’re more silvery than rainbows and grow to be much larger. An average adult steelhead can weigh 10-12 pounds, with lengths around 30-34 inches.

Best Fishing Spots

Since steelheads prefer cool waters ranging between 50-60 F, you’ll need to fish deep waters. They love the chill, well-oxygenated streams, and rivers. They usually gravitate towards gravely bottoms and fast-flowing bends. 

Popular Lures

Some of the best lures for steelheads include plugs, crankbaits, spinners, and spoons. The most popular bait right now is roe. Sometimes, anglers refer to roe as egg sacks, spawn bags, or roe bags. Roe bags are fish eggs sitting inside a mesh material. It’s in the steelhead’s nature to seek out fish eggs in their regular diet. That’s why roe is such a powerful bait choice.

Fish Flavor Profile

If you know what salmon tastes like, you have a good idea of what steelheads taste like. Their meat is orange, and the flavor is sweet and mild. The meat texture is tender, with minimal flakiness. You can make a simple recipe with lemon, butter, black pepper, and fresh dill. Let the fillets marinate in the spices for 10-20 minutes before frying them up. There won’t be any leftovers; it’s just that good.

2. Cutthroat Trout

A Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout in an angler's hand prior to being released
Cutthroat trout usually weigh between 2-5 pounds.

Why stop at one trout species when you could target two? Oregon is also home to cutthroat trout, a peak species during the summertime. Adults have gold yellow colors and red markings under their jaw. The red slash is how they earned their cutthroat name. They usually grow 5 to 17 inches long and weigh between 2-5 pounds. However, you could catch a whopper; these fish can grow to be over 20 pounds in the right habitat.

Best Fishing Spots

A trout’s preferred habitat is clear, cold lakes, streams, and rivers. Cutthroats like diverse environments that have a lot of structure. If you find downed timber or rock piles, these fish will enjoy using them as cover. Since you’ll be in Oregon, you’ll have access to the coastal cutthroat population. You’ll have your pick of high mountain lakes, beaver ponds, and streams in coastal drainages.

Popular Lures

Once you find a good spot, use a variety of lures—cutthroats like being able to trap their prey. Try using artificial nymphs or dry flies. Work the shallow waters where the trout will be actively feeding. Use long casts so you don’t spook them.

Fish Flavor Profile

Cutthroat trout have a mild flavor and taste a lot like steelheads. Anyone who likes eating trout will enjoy the taste of cutthroats. Famous chefs like Gordon Ramsay cook trout by lightly flouring the skin and pan-searing it.

3. White Sturgeon

White sturgeon fishing catch and release
White sturgeon can grow to be over 16 feet long.

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White sturgeon can grow to be 16 feet long and weigh around 800 pounds. Their massive size makes them one of the best fish to catch in Oregon this summer. They have dark body colors, usually black and blue, with white bellies. Along their sides, they have armored bony plates. These fish are living fossils and can live to be over 100 years old.

Best Fishing Spots

White sturgeon are anadromous fish but spend most of their lives in freshwater. They can be found in streams, rivers, estuaries, and marine environments. A few of the best places for sturgeon fishing in Oregon include the Bonneville, Dalles, and John Day Reservoir. You can also find healthy populations in the Middle-Snake River reservoirs. 

Popular Lures

When targeting sturgeon, rely on the old angling adage, “fresh is best.” The fresher the bait, the better. For instance, lamprey, crawfish, shrimp, and local fish species will all work well. Even though sturgeons reach massive sizes, they aren’t aggressive fish. Thread a few nightcrawlers on a hook, cast your line and wait for the fun to begin.

Fish Flavor Profile

White sturgeon has a strong flavor and is considered the steak of the seafood world. White sturgeon doesn’t taste as strong as green sturgeon, but the flavor’s still distinct. If you get a chance to try white sturgeon caviar, it has a nice nutty flavor with hints of seawater.

4. Albacore Tuna

Albacore Tuna, Thunnus alalunga, between bluefin tuna school
Albacore tunas are among Oregon’s most popular game fish.

lunamarina/Shutterstock.com

Many anglers have their sights set on Pacific albacore tunas this summer. Albacore tunas have streamlined fins, dark metallic colors, and long slender bodies. They can weigh over 70 pounds and reach lengths past 40 inches. Since they tend to swim in schools, they can be rewarding fish to target. Schools of albacore tuna can be over 15 miles wide.

Best Fishing Spots

For the most catches, focus your efforts off the coast of Brookings. While the schools could be hundreds of miles offshore, albacore tunas usually come closer during the summer. Finding schools as close as 50 miles during late summer is expected. You might even get lucky and catch one less than 20 miles out.

Popular Lures

Try trolling lures first. Some of the best lures include tuna feathers, daisy chains of rubber skirts, and cedar plugs. Match your lure sizes to the size of the baitfish in the waters you’re trolling.

Fish Flavor Profile

Fresh albacore tastes better than any tuna you’ve ever had out of a can. It has a steak-like texture but isn’t as firm as bigeye tuna. Thanks to its high-fat content, albacore tuna tastes rich. Try pan-cooking fillets of tuna with soy sauce and sesame oil and serving it over a bed of Japanese rice. Your tastebuds will thank you!

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About the Author

Crystal is a curious writer who's always looking to learn more. When she's not out in nature, she's writing about it. Animals, plants, survival tips, and more. It'll be exciting to watch this author grow and learn with her along the way.

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