Boating Access -Your Way to the Water
Fall and Winter Boating in Oregon
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Winter boating is unique and exciting, but requires special care:
For hunters, crabbers and anglers, winter offers some of the best opportunity of the year. Sturgeon fishing, coastal crabbing, waterfowl hunting - even trout fishing in some reservoirs - is at its best. Winter is often a solitary time on Oregon's waterways - if dressed appropriately, it can be beautiful and quiet. Here are some things to consider before heading out.
- Crabbing: Crabbing in the winter is very weather dependent, but on a calm day with moderate tides and river flows, it can be extremely productive. Wind, rain and fog are the challenge - make sure you check tides before heading out, and you might want to look at riverlevels, too. Typically, strong outflows of fresh water reduce crabbing success, so avoid going out after big storms or high tidal swings. Also, the water and weather combine for potentially cold conditions - dress appropriately, wear your life jacket and avoid the mouth of the river on an out-going tide when breakers often form without warning. Check here for ODFW's Fishing report.
- Fishing: Sturgeon in the Columbia, salmon and steelhead in streams, trout in reservoirs - there is actually quite a bit of fishing opportunity this time of year. Winter waters are VERY cold, often in the 40s or lower. Again, take plenty of clothing and wear your life jacket. Avoid boating if storms are forecast, especially on large waterbodies where waves form quickly. Watch for debris in rivers, including dislodged tree trunks, deadheads and hidden gravel bars. Many reservoirs are drawn down for flood control, so access can be difficult.
- Waterfowl hunting: Waterfowl hunters often depart before light to set up decoys and blinds. The Columbia, Willamette and other larger rivers are popularly used this time of year. All boats must display running lights before sunrise or after sunset. Check here for additional information on waterfowl hunting from a boat.
- Wildlife viewing: Waterfowl is the main show this time of year: wood ducks, teal, scaups, mallards and numerous others frequent backwaters and sloughs.
Prepare for Safety: Be especially aware of hypothermia this time of year. Consider gear especially designed for winter use. Dress in layers, carry high-energy food and always wear a life jacket. There's a rule: A 50-year-old swimmer has a 50/50 chance of surviving a 50 yard swim to shore in 50 degree water. The shock of immersion in cold water immediately reduces blood flow to extremeties, increases resperation and inhibits your ability to rescue yourself. A life jacket, or better yet, a float coat, will reduce the shock, slow the onset of hypothermia and help you rescue yourself. Physical condition and swimming ability are only a minor asset here - it is best to be prepared.
- Weather: As always, be aware of the weather and watch river conditions carefully. Wind direction can change suddenly and morning fog can limit visibility.
- Hypothermia: Waters of the state are cold (40-50 degrees) through July and sometimes don't warm above 60 degrees in many waterbodies. This means hypothermia can set in within 10 - 20 minutes for an average person. Cold water immersion is more of a threat...when the air temperature is hot and the water is frigid. Dress appropriately and wear layers. Cold water quickly saps away your strength. Wearing a life jacket gives you the time you need to safely re-board your boat if you accidently fall overboard. Also, ensure you have a means of getting quickly back aboard without assistance by using a ladder or even a dockline. Over 2/3 of all boating fatalities involve people who drowned and were not wearing a life jacket.
Equipment, motor, and boat: Double check your boat, motor, equipment and safety gear.
- Check for reported navigation hazards. ALWAYS scout ahead before you float a river. If you see a hazard -REPORT the hazard. We'll post the information to the website and have the hazard assessed by law enforcement. In some cases, the Marine Board may contract to mitigate a navigation hazard.
- Make sure all life jackets are in good shape and fit the people in boat.
- Be sure to have a float plan that you share with a family member or trusted friend with information about where you plan to go and when you expect to return, so they can notify authorities if you are overdue.
- Do you have your Boater Education Card? All boaters operating vessels over 10 hp need to take a boating safety course and carry their card.
- Make sure your OR numbers are current and that you have your certificate of number with you.
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This interactive Google map is under construction and may change frequently.
Fly into the map by double-clicking outside the round "clusters" to fly in. Then, click on an individual icon for a fly-out window with specific information about that site. From the fly-out, click on "Additional Local Information" to find out more...
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Slow-No-Wake Zone Between Marquam and Ross Island Bridges in Portland
UPDATED -October 7, 2013
A paddler witnessed a crane load of rebar failing into the water toward the main channel where the span construction is happening. Some of the rebar disbanded. It is not known if the rebar will be recovered immediately. Boaters -be safe, and avoid the construction zone if at all possible.
Construction began on the deck of the new Trimet Bridge across the Willamette River, RM 13.8. The selected construction methodology will employ the use of "form-travelers" to build the decking for the TriMet Willamette River Bridge. The form travelers will be built starting at the bridge piers (towers) and be incrementally stepped to extend across and above the navigation channel. During this phase of construction, a navigation channel will be maintained for vessels to pass through the construction zone. Boaters are advised to use caution while transiting the area as there will be construction equipment and personnel working above the navigation channel. This phase of construction is expected to continue until approximately June 15, 2014.
Construction on the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Bridge requires a slow-no-wake zone for safety, and went into effect on June 15. Construction barges are being positioned on the Willamette River between the Marquam and Ross Island Bridges. Construction began on July 1, 2011.
The safety zones are:
- Bank-to-bank, slow-no-wake 500 feet upstream and downstream from the bridge project and effective from June 15, 2011 through September 2014.
- An exclusion zone under the work bridge trestles and under the swing radius of the cranes.
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- Detroit Reservoir - Big Cliff Dam: Big Cliff Dam's gates are being repaired this winter. The boat ramp will be closed until further notice. The Corps of Engineers reports that they have opened the reservoir to walk-in recreation. Click here to view the latest water levels and marina and boat ramp usability data.
- Buena Vista, Marion County: The Buena Vista ramp on the Willamette River, Marion County side has been closed. There are no plans to re-open the ramp. Boating access is still available at the Buena Vista County Park on the Polk County side of the river. For more information, contact 503-588-7943.
Clackamette Park, Oregon City: The Clackamette Park boat ramp on the Clackamas River is closed until further notice. The ramp started shifting and due to instability is dangerous to boaters attempting to launch. For more information contact 503-496-1565. Close by ramps for launching are SportsCraft Landing & Meldrum Bar. Also check out our online map for other potential launch areas.
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Fall lockage schedules for the Columbia and Snake Rivers as listed by the US Army Corps of Engineers:
When approaching a lock:
- Be aware that commercial traffic always has priority over recreational boats.
- Wait at least 400 feet away from the lock for the signal to enter the lock.
- Alert the lock attendant that you wish to go through the lock. You can sound one prolonged blast followed by one short blast of your boat's whistle. You also may contact the lock attendant using your VHF marine radio on Channel 13, but never interrupt commercial communication.
- Enter the lock only after you've been signaled to enter by the lock's traffic lights or by the lock attendant. Otherwise, stay well clear of the lock.
When using locks, boaters should:
- Have fenders and at least 100 feet of rope to use in securing your boat inside the lock.
- Follow the lock attendant's instructions and proceed slowly.
- Avoid passing another boat when inside the lock, unless directed to do so by the lock attendant.
- Wait for lock attendant's signal to exit the lock.
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Portland's Hawthorne Bridge
You can also get char information from:
-downloadable charts from NOAA, where you can obtain charts to the Columbia and Willamette Rivers (Chapter 10, volume 7).
River Permits and Lotteries
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In Oregon, portions of the Rogue, Deschutes and Snake Rivers requires either state or federal permits outside of any state registraiton requirement and regardless of the type of boat used. The Marine Board does not manage these programs. These rivers often have equipment restrictions, and some may limit or prohibit power boat use during certain days or times of the year.
Deschutes River Motorboat Passes
Snake River Permits
Private powerboat reservations for both the Wild and Scenic sections of the Snake River in the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area are required from May 24 through September 10 each year. To make reservations, call the Hells Canyon NRA Powerboat Reservations
number at (509) 758-0270, M-F.
Rogue River Lottery
People interested in floating the Rogue River's Wild and Scenic section from Grave Creek to Watson Creek from May 15 through October 15 must apply through a lottery. Lottery applications must be made during the first six weeks of each calendar year. Check the BLM website for lottery
details and river regulations.
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Your Rights to Use the Surface, Bed, and Banks of Oregon's Rivers and Lakes
Before you use Oregon's waterways and the land underlying and adjacent to them, you should be aware of some important legal considerations.
Why is This Important to You?
Because what you can and cannot do on the submerged and submersible land underlying a waterway, and the upland adjacent to a waterway, depends on who owns it. If you do not know who owns the submerged and submersible land underlying a waterway and what you are allowed to do on that land, you may risk possible citation by law enforcement officers for trespass.
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Waterbodies where motor boats are prohibited:
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Waterways where only electric motors are allowed to operate.
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River Level Forecast -NOAA
Check on daily river gauge readings along most Oregon rivers for flow information.
Nautical Charts and Dealers
NOAA's new official BookletCharts- nautical charts that are easy to download and print from home computers, cover 95,000 miles of U.S. coastline and the Great Lakes. The BookletCharts contain most of the information found on NOAA's full-scale nautical charts, but are presented as reduced-scale.
Tide Information for the U.S. West Coast