I have to admit to a measure of sadistic glee when I spy the folks in the long, snakey line every Saturday morning waiting to score their chinook fix from Bay Street. I see the wan smiles and other signs of thin patience, so I wonder if it's REALLY worth it.
Don't get me wrong--the fish is excellent and very fresh, and the vendor, Gene Thiel's son-in-law no less, is as nice as can be. But to wait a half an hour plus because the son-in-law limits his staffing to himself and his child. . .well, that's the loopiest thing since waiting an hour to sit down to order eggs or pizza.
In case any of you diehards populate this list--or anyone here knows them, I wanted to mention the tribal fisherman who've been making the trip down the gorge to bring us not only chinook, but some of the most succulent sockeye and steelhead I have had in a while. Baked simply (and quickly) on a piece of foil with a sprinkle of coarse salt. . .it's enough to make you want to wait at the fish ladders like a reprobate sea lion.
I've heard some rumors of disparagement of the river (versus ocean) caught fish, but I'd challenge the mavens to tell the difference in a blind tasting. (Sort of like The Oregonian revelation a few years ago that their expert panel failed to discern any taste/texture difference between farmed versus wild salmon--but this raises an entirely different set of issues, I realize.)
In any event, if you haunt the Saturday Portland Farmers Market (or Thursday in the Pearl) and you want to get some fresh, delicious fish with no waiting, look for the Native Americans with the big white coolers. My understanding is that their run (so to speak) at the Market is limited.