McKenzie Spring Special Returns

Happy 2018 from the Dudes! It’s time to look ahead to all the great fishing coming up in the early part of the new year.  Front and center in our thoughts (and conveniently located in the backyard!) is the venerable McKenzie River.  While the masses try to beat their buddies to launch in the dark and rain for winter steelhead, it’s nice to remember that there’s some very good wild trout fishing around here in late winter and early Spring.

Once again, we’re offering our

Spring Special McKenzie River Half-Day Rate: $275 for a 4-hour tour.

*Trips are timed to be on the river at the best time of day.

*Limited to 1-2 anglers per boat.

*All flies, fishing gear, drinks, and water provided. BYO lunch.

*The McKenzie River Spring Special Half-Day Rate is good between January 1 and April 20, 2018. 

*Full-day trips with lunch are available at the standard rate during the Spring Special Season.

If you’ve been feeling the need to flex some graphite, early season trout are on the bite!




Coastal Salmon Fly-Lights

As we transition from the balmy calm of Autumn into the gales and travails of more wintery weather, the focus lately has been on the smaller-river Kings over on the coast.

While this year’s late-fall King return has thus far been mostly underwhelming, angler effort has been, at times, overwhelming.  But every Oregon “hog line” sports an entertaining mix of colorful characters.

But for those willing to tough out the sometimes volatile weather and hours of fruitless retrieves, there is still plenty of solitary backcast room to be found out there.

So far it seems that this season’s return may be defined by the drop in productivity in the near-shore ocean waters over the last couple of years.  Or maybe the big numbers will be later this time. These things are cyclical: this summer, Alaska has had great salmon production, which typically means we do not.  But for those willing to roll the dice, there will still be moments of magic to be found.

Oregon Steelhead and Salmon Report

The 2017 Fall Season has been notable for an unusually paltry summer steelhead return to the upper Valley.  On local steelhead trips lately, the weather, water, and coverage has been excellent.  But the results, alas, have not.

Over on the Deschutes, fishing has been better, although not particularly hot.  A recent multi-day outing produced a handful of steelhead hookups along with some great trout action.

Back home on the west side of the Cascades, our attention has been focussing more and more to the coast and the chance to tangle with the King of all Oregon Gamefish: the Fall Chinook.  When the tides have aligned with decent weather and stable river levels, the Kings have been on the bite.  It’s a good feeling to head into the winter with some slabs in storage.  Now that the rains are in, the deck of opportunities shuffles.  See you on the drop!

McKenzie Magic

Fall is our favorite time of year in Oregon.  Just about any direction you can point a fly rod around here will lead you to some incredible fishing.  Coastal salmon, high desert steelhead, trophy trout in the high lakes;  it can be hard to choose which way to cast.

Fortunately for us, we get to enjoy one of the West’s best trout fisheries right here in the backyard.  The McKenzie has consistently reminded us this year just how lucky we are to live nearby.  Wild trout fishing has simply been excellent over the last few weeks. Since the smoke cleared out, replaced by cool wet weather fronts and crisp cool sunshine, anglers plying the waters have been treated to some of the best trout action of the season.

Fall is here.  See you on the River!



Fall Fishing Returns

With the first significant rain event of the fall season, everyone is breathing a clean lung-full of relief.  The fires plaguing the region are on notice that their days are numbered.  And although they will likely have some last gasps, we are hopeful that the choking smoke of the past month is behind us.

The trout fishing on both the lower and upper McKenzie has been excellent as the weather has cooled.  The emergence of Fall Drakes, Short-winged Stones, and even some October Caddis combined with light traffic, overcast skies, and lengthening shadows have the fish looking up.  The next month will be prime time for enjoying some of the best fishing of the year.

On the steelhead front, not much has changed.  The return appears destined to remain at a historic low of around 2000 fish in the basin above Willamette Falls. That being said, anglers making the effort are finding the odd fish here and there.  Not exactly the standard we are used to around here, but seasoned steelheaders know that it’s always worth a session of swinging as long as there is hope of success.

Meanwhile, one of the best respites from the smoke over the last few weeks has been heading west to the coast for some “cross-training” in the bays.  It’s good for fly guys like us to get our hands stinky now and then, especially in pursuit of the King of all Oregon gamefish. Here’s a peek into the world of mega-guide-sleds, solo trollers, giant balls of lead, fresh baits, and ubiquitous hope.

Redsides Under Red Skies

The late season here in the valley has been hot, dry, and smoky, thanks to the myriad fires burning to the east and south of our area.  Our wet winter and spring made for lots of understory growth in the forests of the Cascades and Siskiyou Mountains.  After several weeks of hot dry weather plus a sprinkling of lightning storms, the worst fire season in a generation is upon us.

While the eerie, orange-hued, apocalyptic conditions have been unnerving, uncomfortable, and downright unhealthy some days, the fishing has actually been very good.  Apparently the trout don’t mind the faux overcast.

While the fires will persist until we get some significant rain, each day on the river is different.  With smoke conditions dependent on the whims and vagaries of the wind, some days are beautiful; some are… decidedly not.  As we look to the weeks ahead, once we have some reasonable rain and the first wet onshore flow off the ocean, things should settle back into a more normal pattern.  The fishing will remain excellent from here on out into November. In the meantime, seemingly everyone is hunkered down inside keeping a wary eye to the hazy skies, waiting for the air to clear.

Fall Salmon on the Brain

It seems like everyone is getting hot and bothered over the upcoming Oregon eclipse, trying to out think the masses while keeping one eye on the ever-changing weather forecast: “will it be cloudy?!?…” “Are these goggles approved?..”

For those of us who are looking forward to the eclipse being over with, eyes instead are turned west to the cloudy cool coastal morning calm that signals the advance of Autumn, and the return of the Kings.

Fly fishing in the valley is still in full swing, but in between days, it’s great to spin some herring with good friends.  Here, in no particular order are some fresh images from the front lines of Oregon’s most popular fishery.  I wonder if there’ll be a good bite when the sun goes dark?


McKenzie Midsummer

As we approach the end of July and the hot-“dog days” of August, is there any better place to beat the heat than the upper McKenzie River?  Boosted by the benificence of the Army Corps of Engineers’ decision to do some dam repairs this summer, the flows of midsummer have been higher and colder than average.

And while the native redsides have been (typically for midsummer) few and far between, some beautiful trout have been in the mix almost every day.

The mainstay this time of year, of course, is the venerable “McKenzie Breadside” trout, courtesy of anglers’ license fees and the above-mentioned US Army Corps.  While not as photogenic as their wild counterparts, these hatchery-bred trout make for steady action through the generally hatchless midsummer months.  And of course, they are delicious fried streamside in some butter for lunch!  

Here are some photos from the past few weeks on the water.  I’m sure you will agree: it looks like a lot of fun!

Looking forward to more of the same in the weeks to come!  See you out there!

June-uary weather on the Local Waters

Just when we were all feeling comfortable in our flip-flops and shorts, a late pulse of cold fronts and wet weather reminds us that we’re closer on the calendar to winter than we are to the dry heat of late summer.  But as western Oregon locals say, there’s no such thing as bad weather; only bad raingear.  Anglers on the McKenzie over the last couple of weeks have had to bring their best slickers.  But no one notices the wind and rain when the fishing is good.

While the conditions have been “variable,” the trout action on the McKenzie has been steady, with the native rainbows and their hatchery-born roommates clearly enjoying the cloudy skies, higher water, and abundant hatches.  Whenever it’s raining in June, remember: it’s a great day to be a fish… or a fisher.


As we look ahead to more summery conditions in the weeks to come, the rivers remain full and healthy, just like the trout.  Oregon’s summer season will soon be here. But who among us wouldn’t swap their flip-flop tan for some good waders and a quality rain coat to enjoy a wet June-uary adventure on the McKenzie?  It’s all good!

Deschutes Salmonfly 2017

The 2017 Salmonfly Hatch on the fabled Deschutes River is winding down.  After a slow start and colder weather, this year’s emergence was prodigious, as usual, and the trout made the most of the bounty.

In the last couple of trips, we went from the heat and unbelievable crowds of Memorial Day Weekend to a ghost-town-quiet three days, featuring the best fishing of the entire season. Now, as we settle back in for a summer on the local waters, here’s a look back at the season in the Canyon.  Enjoy!

Special thanks to Ethan & Alia and Kyle & Kerry of Ethan Nickel Outfitters for black-belt-level outfitting and moral guidance.