Things are just starting to look up. There are a couple of places to put in a boat and have a good time.
First off, there are two working ferry landings, one north of Keizer on Wheatland Rd. (you can only get to the river in the early morning from the west salem side) And south of independence in Buena Vista (accessible from both sides of the river in the early am)
If you have terraserver or google earth, you can get a good view of the sloughs and back water areas. I have never hunted the stretch from independence to salem, so can't help there. The good thing is that you can get pretty close to Ankeny refuge down south, and there is a state park up north by the Wheatland ferry so you will definitely see the birds.
GET UP EARLY!!! Or better yet, sleep in.
The stretch between Albany and Independence seems to get quite a bit of action from the boats and there are a couple of greenways that see action from skyblasters. Good luck and I hope some other will chime in.