Fishing connects people to their local rivers and streams. Through this connection, their appreciation and stewardship of natural resources is built and maintained. The Willamette River Recreation Strategy (2012) identifies shoreline fishing as an emerging and important use along the Willamette River. One of the Strategy’s recommendations is to “Improve opportunities for shoreline fishing access in areas that are not environmentally vulnerable.” The Strategy maps indicate six fishing locations in Portland parks – Kelley Point, Cathedral, Willamette, Powers Marine, and Sellwood Riverfront. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) lists seven parks on the Willamette in its publication "50 places to go fishing within 60 minutes of Portland".
However, under PCC 20.12.150 Fishing and Bathing. No person shall fish, wade, swim, or bathe in any Park except in the places designated by the Director for such purposes. As we have observed, many people fish from docks and on the banks within our parks.
Park ownership adjacent to the Willamette River extends to Ordinary High Water (OHW) which for regulatory purposes is 20 feet NAVD 88 or 18 feet City of Portland datum (see maps). Below OHW is regulated by the State of Oregon and fishing is allowed.
At this time only the fishing dock at Cathedral Park is a possibility for designation. All other docks and boat ramps were constructed and/or maintained using grant funds from the Oregon State Marine Board (OSMB). OSMB does not prohibit fishing per se but if we allow fishing from these docks, then we are required to pay back the grant funds we received. The Duckworth Dock located near the northeast corner of the Eastbank Esplanade is owned and managed by PBOT.
Anglers must comply with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations. PP&R zone managers and supervisors have expressed concern about the safety of all park users that are accessing the beach and docks, and about the fishing line, bait, and other trash left on the bank by anglers in addition to trash left by other users.
PP&R is designating river bank fishing in four parks along the Willamette River. Further, to maintain compliance with the OSMB grants which funded dock construction and/or maintenance, we continue to prohibit fishing from these docks and will post additional signage as appropriate to inform park users.
Fishing will be permitted at the following:
- Cathedral Park fishing and light watercraft pier (at the upstream end of the park)
- Eastbank Esplanade floating (cantilever) walkway (between the Steel and Morrison bridges)
- Kelley Point Park – Columbia Slough, Willamette and Columbia rivers
- Cathedral Park
- Sellwood Riverfront Park
- Powers Marine Park
- Structures: Any built asset like a dock, floating walkway or pier.
- Riverbank: Any point where the river meets the shore.
- Ordinary High Water (OHW): 20 feet NAVD 88 or 18 feet City of Portland datum (see maps).
- OSMB: Oregon State Marine Board.
The guiding principles for this policy are two-fold: 1.) To provide a safe park experience for all park users, and 2.) To provide access to and clarity around where park users may fish in Portland parks.
Procedures & Guidelines
- Identify docks not open to fishing (i.e. OSMB-funded docks) and post with appropriate signage.
- Engage in educational contacts for 90 days, after which Rangers will enforce Title 20.12.150.