Fish the Columbia
I hadn't expected Astoria, Oregon. This hillside gem, an entire continent away from my home, held more sentimental historic significance than I could've imagined - and what a fishery!
You may actually recognize Astoria from tourism photography. Remember The Goonies, Kindergarten Cop ... Free Willy? All filmed here.
Heard of Lewis and Clark? Their great western expedition culminated at a camp here near the Pacific. New York multimillionaire and fur trader John Jacob Astor? He was the town's namesake.
From centuries of native Clatsop history through U.S. exploration, European competition and finally American expansion, Astoria - population 10,000 - has seen more diverse commerce and culture than most small towns.
Through all that history, the annual salmon migration remains timeless, though not untouched. In the late 1860s, the first Columbia River salmon cannery opened. Within 20 years, 39 such facilities packaged the popular fish and stocks inevitably declined.
Remnant docks from those canneries and from barns that harbored horses used to pull seines around the sandbars now house hotels, restaurants and shops. The Cannery Pier Hotel (www.cannerypierhotel.com; 888-325-4996), a five-story, luxury boutique hotel that we relished for several nights, was built on the site of the former Union Fish Cannery, 600 feet out over the river.
We literally "stayed" on the water. The expansive balconied room provided an excellent view of our fishing grounds.
The Holiday Inn Express (www.astoriahie.com; 888-898-6222) just up the street also offers river views and comfortable rooms close to town and the harbor.
For information on 2010 Columbia River salmon fishing seasons and regulations, visit www.dfw.state.or.us/resources/fishing/index.asp#rules.
For fishing-charter information, visit www.oldoregon.com/business-directory/C92/.
Columbia River Guides
Oregon City, Oregon