What Fish Are in the Columbia River?

Belinda Miller/ October 1, 2022/ Place

If you’ve ever wondered what fish are in the Columbia River, then you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, you’ll learn about Salmon, Steelhead, Sturgeon, and Shad.

Once you know what you’re looking for, you can begin a fishing trip with confidence.


The Columbia River has long been known for its exceptional salmon fishing.

This river, which contains three distinct salmon runs and two distinct species, has won the hearts of salmon enthusiasts throughout the US.

If you would like to experience the thrill of catching Columbia River salmon, contact a Columbia river fishing guide.

They can give you an insider’s view of this unique species.

The current situation in the Columbia River has many factors, including the recent crack in the Wanapum Dam, which has caused a massive drawdown of the reservoir, but hasn’t hindered the migration of fish.

Despite the recent drawdown, opening-day creel checks showed that salmon had spread across the upper Columbia River, from Wells Dam upstream.

Many anglers were catching salmon from the reservoir’s upper reaches.

One technique that is particularly effective is to anchor in shallow water close to shore and intercept the salmon as they migrate upstream.


The Middle Columbia River is an important habitat for steelhead.

It includes all tributaries except for the Snake River and stretches upstream to the Yakima River in Washington.

However, steelhead have not been consistently found above the falls in recent years.

This is because of the decline in the number of salmon and steelhead in this area.

The NMFS encourages federal, state, and local agencies to consider the needs of listed steelhead and salmon.

Among other things, they encourage the preservation of unoccupied areas in the river for future access and population restoration.


Sturgeon are one of the largest freshwater fish in North America.

They grow to a size of up to fifteen feet and weigh more than five hundred pounds.

These giants are fascinating creatures that may live for as long as one hundred years.

They have large bony plates and a flat snout with a deep-forked tail. These fish are considered prehistoric by scientists.

They have four barbels near their snouts and have a variety of acrobatic displays.

The Columbia River is a great place to catch these fish. Sturgeon are in the Columbia estuary from China Bend down to the Canadian border.

There are a lot of bait fish, shrimp, and worms in this estuary, and the fish feed off these animals.

The best time to fish for sturgeon is during smaller tides and in shallow areas.


The American shad is one of the most distinctive fishes of the Columbia River.

While salmon and steelhead used to be the most abundant fish species in the river, their populations have declined significantly over the years.

Today, shad numbers average about four to five million per year.

According to the US Geological Survey, shad numbers in the Columbia River have fluctuated between ten and twenty million.

In addition to being an important food fish, shad also have excellent roe, making them a popular sport fish.

Recent studies show that the American shad population has increased rapidly as upstream access to new reservoir habitats increased.

The adult population fluctuates from one to six million fish, and the number of adult fish varies with ocean conditions and Ichthyophonus epizootics.

Adult females lay 659,000 eggs, which hatch into juvenile American shad, which feed on zooplankton.

Largemouth bass

The Columbia River has a number of largemouth bass, including largemouth bass that spawn in the summer months.

Many of these fish spawn in the backwaters and in the main stem. They prefer slower-moving waters, along the shore, and near cover.

The right timing, bait, and location are key for catching these fish.

When fishing for largemouth bass, consider looking for a rocky area with rocky edges.

It’s likely to hold some largemouths, but you may have to fish a bit deeper for these fish.

In these situations, you’ll want to use a plastic bait or a crank bait. You can also try topwater lures.


If you’re looking for crappie fishing in the Columbia River, you’re in luck!

These aggressive, small fish prefer small jig lures, and they’re common throughout the lower portion of the river.

In addition to crappie, you can also catch walleye, although they are harder to catch than smallmouth bass.

Crappie are a popular sport fish, and the best time to catch them is during the cool spring months.

They typically congregate in shallow water in loose schools. Finding them is the hardest part, as they tend to avoid moving far from the shallows.

Best fishing times are in the morning and in the evening when the fish move up along vertical structure.

Small jigs imitating minnows are a good choice for catching crappie.

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