Fishing & Recreation

Fishing opportunities abound on the Clackamas, with adult salmon and steelhead migrating upriver almost year-round. In addition to fishing, PGE parks on the Clackamas offer camping, hiking, boating, scenic views and more.

To help plan a fishing trip or decide when to go salmon watching, understanding typical migration patterns for the most common fish species is important.

For up-to-date numbers, visit our Daily Fish Counts page. For fishing regulations and up-to-date opportunities, check out the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Clackamas fish migration patterns

Fish migration on the Clackamas River

Summer steelhead

  • Average run size*: 489 hatchery fish
  • Wild or hatchery: Hatchery
  • Where to find them: Downstream of North Fork Dam
  • Average size: 7 to 10 pounds
  • Spawning: January to February
  • Years in the ocean: 85 percent return after two years (“two-salt fish”)
  • More details: Summer steelhead are not native to the Clackamas River. The stocking of hatchery fish began in 1970.

Winter steelhead

  • Peak adult migration: January to April
  • Average run size*: 1,227 wild fish and 364 hatchery fish
  • Wild or hatchery: Both (mostly wild)
  • Where to find them: Wild winter steelhead migrate past PGE facilities into the upper Clackamas River and its tributaries. Hatchery fish remain downstream of North Fork Dam.
  • Average size: 8 to 12 pounds
  • Spawning: March to mid-June
  • Years in the ocean: 2 to 3 years
  • More details: Hatchery winter steelhead smolts are acclimated and released in the lower Clackamas River.

Coho salmon

Early Run

  • Peak adult migration: September and October
  • Average run size*: 2,324 wild fish, hatchery populations unknown
  • Wild or hatchery: Both (mostly wild)
  • Where to find them: Wild early run Coho migrate into the upper Clackamas River and its tributaries. Hatchery fish do not migrate above Eagle Creek, which is downstream of North Fork Dam.
  • Average size: 5 to 10 pounds
  • Spawning: October to November
  • Years in the ocean: 1.5 years
  • More details: Early run Coho are a naturalized run of hatchery origin fish. Hatchery Coho are reared at the Eagle Creek National Fish Hatchery.

Late Run

  • Peak adult migration: November to January
  • Average run size*: 522 wild fish
  • Wild or hatchery: Wild
  • Where to find them: Late run Coho migrate into the upper Clackamas River and its tributaries.
  • Average size: 8 to 12 pounds
  • Spawning: January to April
  • Years in the ocean: 1.5 years
  • More details: While most of them spawn above North Fork Dam, there is some reproduction in the lower river.

Spring Chinook

  • Peak adult migration: April to July
  • Average run size: 1,834 wild fish and 1,857 hatchery fish
  • Wild or hatchery: Both
  • Where to find them: Wild spring chinook migrate into the upper Clackamas River and its tributaries. Hatchery spring chinook remain downstream of North Fork Dam.
  • Average size: 9 to 25 pounds
  • Spawning: September to October
  • Years in the ocean: 2 to 3 years
  • More details: Historically the Clackamas was home to large numbers of spring chinook, but commercial fishing and a failed fish ladder significantly reduced populations in the first half of the 20th century. Populations have been increasing in recent years thanks to improved fish passage and fishing regulation. Hatchery spring chinook are reared in the Clackamas Hatchery at McIver State Park.

Fall Chinook

  • Peak adult migration: September to October
  • Average run size*: Unknown
  • Wild or hatchery: Wild
  • Where to find them: Downstream of River Mill Dam
  • Average size: 20 pounds
  • Spawning: September to early November
  • Years in the ocean: 2 to 3 years
  • More details: Although fall chinook were once native to the Clackamas, present-day populations are believed to be descendants of a strain that was stocked until 1971.

Sea-run cutthroat trout

  • Peak adult migration: September to October
  • Wild or hatchery: Wild
  • Where to find them: Large tributaries downstream of River Mill Dam
  • Average size: 12 to 18 inches
  • Spawning: January to March
  • Years in the ocean: 6 months with return trips to the ocean after spawning

*Run size numbers are 10-year averages based on the number of fish sorted at the North Fork Adult Sorting Facility.