Buying fresh Columbia River chinook salmon
The Columbia River is known for its distinctly flavored, rich red chinook salmon, also called king salmon. For thousands of years, the Columbia has been home to coho, sockeye, chum and steelhead salmon as well as chinook. (See Columbia River Salmon Species) And for thousands of years, the Yakama, Warm Springs, Umatilla and Nez Perce Indians have harvested these fish for commercial purposes and for physical and spiritual sustenance.
Today, the Columbia River is the only place in the Northwest where you can share in this historical Indian Salmon Harvest. Tribal fishers can be seen fishing from small boats and from scaffolds with long handled dip nets, as their ancestors did centuries ago. During the late spring, summer and fall, the public can purchase premium Columbia River chinook, coho, steelhead, and sockeye directly from Indian fishers. The fish is fresh, reasonably priced, and can be purchased already cleaned from some vendors.
Buying Indian-caught salmon directly from the river is a tradition that non-Indians started participating in some 200 years ago, about the time Lewis and Clark passed through the Columbia Basin. Over-the-bank salmon sales help Indian fishers support their families and make it possible for them to continue their traditional livelihood.
COVID precautions when buying a salmon
Expect fishers to have stricter protocols to ensure their own safety and the safety of customers. Remember these guidelines when buying from tribal fishers:
- Wear a mask.
- Use a credit card to pay if your fish seller is set up to accept them.
- Learn more about the community you’re buying from. COVID doesn’t affect all groups and ages the same way and even if you don’t feel it is a potential threat to you personally, it is a major threat to the tribal community, particularly tribal elders.
- Thank you for supporting tribal fishers by enjoying Indian-caught salmon, but also please support them by helping keep COVID from spreading into our vulnerable population.
Helpful information when buying salmon
When the salmon season opens (see dates), Indian fishers may be found selling fish at a number of locations along the Columbia. Sellers are regularly at these locations, but look for signs along the river, too:
- Marine Park in Cascade Locks
- Bridgeside parking lot located under the historic Bridge of the Gods Bridge
- Brigham Fish Market, Cascade Locks
- Lone Pine in The Dalles
- Wild Columbia Salmon, 108 Highway 35, Hood River
- Wild Columbia Salmon, 230 1st Street, White Salmon, Washington
- Boat launch near Roosevelt, Washington
To find out where the day’s catch is being sold, call the Salmon Marketing program at (888) 289-1855, (503) 238-0667 during normal business hours. Days, times and availability vary.
Sales are cash only. Ask for a receipt from your vendor.
Check out our Fresh Salmon Buying Tips.
Fresh Fish Availablity
- Chinook Salmon Open
- Steelhead Open
- Coho Salmon Open
- Sockeye Salmon Scarce
- Sturgeon Closed
- Shad Out of Season
Fish are marked SCARCE if a tributary fishery (usually the Klickitat River) is open but not the main Columbia River. Availability is quite limited and can only be determined by actually driving to the tributary.
Walleye, yellow perch, bass, catfish, and carp are occasionally for sale in very small numbers.
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