Fishermen work hard to bring the freshest quality salmon to Oregon’s docks – the consumer demands and deserves nothing less, and our fishermen deliver.
The fishing practices of the Oregon’s Salmon fleet are a source of pride for Oregonians. Commercial fishing is a sustainable industry through the careful management at the state and federal levels. We conscientiously plan and act to keep this precious resource renewable and abundant into the future.
CATCHING KINGS: Chinook and Coho Salmon thrive in the deep, cold waters of the Pacific Northwest, yet catching them is a craft that takes skill and experience. Oregon Salmon are hand-caught, one at a time towing lures attached to the boat. Once a salmon bites, the fisherman lands it by hand, cleans and dresses it at sea, then quickly stores it on ice until the boat returns to shore and the fish is sold. The time from the ocean to the ice isn’t more than a few minutes, resulting in a fresher product with a desirable shelf life.
This type of fishing, sometimes called “trolling” or “hook-and-line”— produces the highest quality salmon and eliminates inadvertent catch of other types of fish.
Many of Oregon’s commercial fishermen are second, third, and fourth generation in this business. It is a family and cultural heritage passed along from generation to generation. In many families, the first catch of the season is still cause for celebrating the bounty nature provides.
By being active stewards of the state’s resources and waters, the industry assures its livelihood by caring for the health of the fisheries.
Ocean trolling is hook and line fishing. Several lures or baits are lowered into the water and pulled slowly behind the boat (no more than 4 spreads of lures or bait are allowed on each line). Salmon are attracted to the gear and strike while feeding on natural bait in the area. The fisherman lands each salmon individually, then cleans it immediately and packs it in ice for delivery.
The trolling fleet has two main components: trip boats and day boats. Trip boats range between 30 and 65 feet in length. Typical trips are 3 to 5 days at sea with a crew of one or two people. Day boats are usually smaller, about 20 to 30 feet in length. They fish closer to port, returning each day, often crewed by a solitary fisherman. The number of permits and vessels is under 1,000 statewide.
Most ocean trolling is done within 25 miles of shore. Undersea mounts, currents, and feed determine where the salmon will be found. Pacific Salmon range from Southern California to Alaska.
Trolling is regulated by state and federal managers. Open seasons and quotas are established annually to ensure conservation and food production at optimum levels. In Oregon, trolling seasons usually open in mid-March and close at the end of October. For specific seasons, see the webpage “Seasons."