Bridge work on I-205 at Oregon City won’t stop spring Chinook fishing on these popular waters just below Willamette Falls, but anglers will need to be aware of no-wake, navigation and other restrictions that will be in effect here into 2025.
“Pay attention, use common sense, follow boater safety rules we have everywhere on the river, be mindful of workers” is just some of the advice Oregon Department of Transportation lead project engineer Allen Hendy has for fishermen.
As crews from contractor Kiewit make the Abernethy Bridge more earthquake proof, as well as widen the lanes of the interstate, recreational access through the work zone and in and out of Sportcraft Marina and its ramp will be maintained.
“That’s the plan. It’s not going to change,” Hendy says.
There have been a few rumors about a closure as a larger return of springers – 70,000 Willamette fish are forecast to enter the Columbia – begins to nose its way toward Oregon City and points upstream. Last week one was caught well downstream in the Multonomah Channel, while anglers closer to the falls are catching a few winter-run steelhead and Bill Monroe at The Oregonianreports this afternoon that the year’s first springer was counted at the falls yesterday.
“Spring Chinook fishing is open on the Willamette River from the mouth to Willamette Falls,” says ODFW spokeswoman Beth Quillian.
That said, boaters will need to reduce their speeds so they produce no wake in the bridge construction zone, says Hendy, as well as use the series of big red and green buoys to transit through the area, keeping at least 150 to 200 feet away from the barges.
“Traveling through the area to fishing spots shouldn’t be a problem at all, as long as people use common sense and typical boater safety rules,” he says.
With construction this springer season focused on the West Linn, or west, side of the Willamette, the navigation channel is on the east, or Oregon City, side of the river. That means Pier 6 – a bridge piling and popular spot to fish off the west bank – isn’t available for the time being, Hendy says.
Anglers should be aware of anchor lines mooring construction barges to 6-foot round buoys that could make trolling in some areas a losing proposition, he warns.
And while as heartbreaking as it might be to have to cut a tasty springer loose, that might be wiser than risking damaging your boat or possibly capsizing it underneath the equipment.
“That’s the last thing that we want to see – someone chasing a fish and losing power. The barges are not moving,” he says.
If problems do develop with river users not following signage, the Clackamas County River Patrol will be in charge of enforcement, Hendy says.
Also be aware that Clackamette Drive – the road to Sportcraft Marina behind the Best Western – is down to one lane and has a light at about Max Storm Park controlling traffic flow.
Work on the Abernethy Bridge is scheduled to continue into 2025. To keep tabs on it, Hendy suggests to go to i205corridor.org, where there’s project details, weekly updates, four web cams, and ways to sign up for more info and news.