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Launch a Boat in Portland Oregon on the Willamette River

Updated on February 17, 2013

The River Divides The city

Boating on the Willamette River

The Willamette River is a large river running across the state of Oregon from South to North and meets the Columbia River to head out to sea in Portland, Oregon the largest city in the state. The confluence of these two major rivers means there is a lot of excellent fishing nearby as well just a lot of options for boaters that like to enjoy a day on the river for water skiing, fishing, or just going for a boat cruise. The city of Portland has a very active harbor throughout the entire stretch of river in the heart of the city, but this does not mean the average person can not enjoy this river right in the city limits, anglers can expect to catch salmon and steelhead during the annual migrations and there is lots of small mouth bass, walleye, and sturgeon that make the river home too.

There are several excellent boat ramps and facilities that reside inside of the city that residents can use to get there boat out and go for a float. The Willamette river has many facilities south of Portland as well, but the following locations are all easily accessible to the people in Portland and can be reached in less than 15 minutes for anyone in the city.

Swan Island

Swan Island Boat Ramp

The Swan Island boat launch is located in North East Portland and is not far from the I 5 and Fremont Bridge. The launch ramp is just south of University of Portland. This launch facilities is the smaller of the bunch in the city limits offering only a single boat ramp lane and portable outhouse instead of fixed restroom facilities. The dock is nice and there is enough parking for easily parking the rig on the weekdays. This facility is smaller and will fill up fast during the weekend and with the smaller parking lot is probably not the place to bring a real expensive boat and trailer as there is not much room and could be a potential accident to your truck and trailer. It is the closest ramp to downtown Portland on the East side of the city. The Swan Island area itself is a great place to pursue small mouth bass and the main channel is only a few minutes away. This is a free ramp and free parking.

Willamette Park

Willamette Park Boat Ramp

The Willamette Park boat ramp facilities is the largest facility in the city limits and is the perfect place to go especially if you are just learning to boat as the parking area and launch ramps are large. The park is located just off SW Macadam and there is a fee for parking and launching a boat. The price and parking passes vary by the time of year so check with the parks website or call in advance if you need to know before going. The multiple lanes and additional parking make this a popular spot and is the only place to launch your boat inside the city of Portland on the West side. Nearby to downtown Portland this is the place to launch from if you are interested in enjoying the outdoor concerts that happen from time to time along the waterfront during the warmer months in Portland.

Cathedral City Park

Willamette River Launch Ramps in Portland

show route and directions
A markerSwan Island portland oregon -
Swan Island, Portland, OR 97217, USA
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B markerWillamette Park portland oregon -
Willamette Park, SW Macadam Ave, Portland, OR 97201, USA
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C markerCathedral City Park portland oregon -
Cathedral City Park, N Edison St, Portland, OR 97203, USA
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Favorite Boat Launch

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Enjoy the Willamette River

There is so much to see and enjoy out on the Willamette River so if you own a boat and live in the city you should drop in at one of these ramps and enjoy a day out on your local river. While many people from Portland tend to tow there rigs to other places to boat and fish the Willamette can be excellent even in the middle of downtown. There is resident warm water fish in the waters year round and annual migrations of salmon and steelhead to be caught right in the city limits.

For more information about the sights and places to access the Willamette river check out the river guide. It will help you out with any other questions you may have about this wonderful river.

Fishing Opportunities in Portland

The most popular fishing opportunity that is in the city limits of Portland, Oregon, is likely the Spring Salmon season. The first fish of the year generally gets caught in early February and the run last for a few months all the way into April depending on the year. Anglers can catch these local delicacies with traditional salmon rigs like a herring rig or pulling spinners.

Another local favorite angling opportunity is for Sturgeon which grow to a huge size and put up an amazing battle on rod and reel. Check the local regulations for all of the fishing requirements to pursue both salmon and steelhead as well as Sturgeon which have their own special requirements and restrictions in place to protect the ecosystem.

Warm water fish such as Small Mouth bass and walleye are also present and can be caught in good numbers during the spring and through the fall months. Get out and enjoy the fishing that sits right in the middle of the city.


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