sign says native caught fresh fish


By Tiffany Woods

CASCADE LOCKS, Ore. – The Columbia River Gorge is known for its stunning scenery, but this time of year it’s also a great place to buy fresh salmon and steelhead from tribal vendors as the fish migrate upriver.

In most years, you can purchase fish from tribal sellers in the Gorge from mid-June through early October. You can learn how to do just that thanks to a new video from Oregon Sea Grant and the Oregon State University Extension Service at

The eight-minute video features Amanda Gladics, a fisheries specialist with Oregon Sea Grant and Extension; Kelly Streit, a registered dietitian with Extension; and Buck Jones, the salmon marketing specialist with the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission.

Here are a few of the tips they offer:

  • Follow COVID-19 safety protocols.
  • Check the commission’s website at to see which fish are in season. “The sockeye run is pretty much a summer run, finished by the end of July,” Jones said. “Chinook run throughout most of the year, tapering off in early to mid-October. Coho run fall to early winter.”
  • Call the tribal salmon hotline at 888-289-1855 or use the map at to find out where fish are sold. A map of regularly and occasionally staffed sites is also in a brochure at
  • Select fish with firm and shiny flesh that springs back when lightly pressed; bright, red gills with transparent or slightly milky mucus; and skin and gills that are not darkened or discolored.
  • If you ask for the fish to be filleted, you can expect to get back about half of its original weight as fillet meat. Videos on how to gut and fillet a salmon are at and
  • Be prepared to pay via card, check or cash.
  • Surround the fish with ice immediately after purchase.

Once you get the fish home, the Extension Service offers the following resources for preserving it:

“Sites where you can purchase tribal-caught salmon today are close to locations where tribal fishers have been harvesting salmon since time immemorial,” Jones said.

Under treaties signed with the U.S. government in 1855, the Nez Perce, Umatilla, Yakama and Warm Springs tribes maintained their rights to fish at their traditional sites, he said.

“Tribal fishing at these sites continue[s] to be essential to the tribes’ sovereignty, culture and economy,” Jones said. “Over-the-bank sales help tribal fishers support their families and make it possible to continue their traditional livelihood.”