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!
With the flowers of May in full bloom, it finally seems safe to say that winter is over. A last couple of floats on the rivers of the coast range towards the end of April were the final shots for winter steelhead fishing until next season. While one trip was highlighted by eating lunch in a cave during a downpour, another yielded an amazing fish for young uber-angler, Max Jensen. This beautiful tide-running early summer-run hatchery hen put a nice exclamation point on what has been a volatile season to say the least!
Back in the Valley, McKenzie Trout Action continues. High water has predominated thanks to our higher-than-average snowpack, and nymphing has been steady. The March Brown Mayflies made for some reliably good fishing throughout the month of April, with lots of nice fish looking up. Recent warm days have seen the first big McKenzie Caddis of the season out bouncing around on the riffles.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Cascades, the annual Deschutes River Salmonfly Hatch is just getting started. The late spring has seemingly made for a more “normal” time-frame on the hatch this season, which means a just-completed early May float found high water, good nymphing, and very few adult big bugs out and about. Dry fly action was limited to say the least, but save for some sore shoulders, the nymphing more than made up for the lack of surface feeders.
Here is a sampling of images from the first run through the High Desert. It only gets better from here! Enjoy!
Spring has sprung here in the Valley! Warmer days and plenty of water have made for some very good trout action over the last few weeks. On cloudy drizzle days, the annual March Brown Mayfly emergence has brought some very nice redsides and cutthroat to the surface. On recent warmer days, the Grannom Caddis hatch has been heavy, and although the trout dont like them as much as the mayflies, plenty of good fish have had their heads up.
Weather at this time of year tends to be volatile. One day is warm and calm; the next, the wind is knocking down trees. But when the elements align, Spring trout fishing can be some of the most rewarding of the year. What better evidence that all is right with the world than beautiful wild trout rising to hatching insects on your home river?
If you’re in need of some dry-fly therapy to chase those winter blues, we’re still offering our Spring Special half-day rate through the 20th of April.
While the local angling population focusses on the siren song of winter steelheading, the McKenzie River is quietly waking from its midwinter slumber. On a recent midday outing, Fred and I managed a couple of nice redsides on nymphs and had the river to ourselves.
As we transition into the new season here in the Valley, trout fishing will steadily improve. Sometimes a few hours floating and some chunky trout can be a welcome respite from the chaos and drama of day-to-day reality.
If you find yourself needing a break from all the noise, we’re once again offering the
McKenzie River Spring Special Rate: $275/boat for a 4-5 hour trout fishing tour.
The MRSS runs from February 1 – April 20, 2017. Limit 2 anglers/boat. All fly fishing gear and flies as well as water & sodas provided. BYO lunch/snacks.
Late-fall fly fishing for ocean-fresh chinook salmon can be a compelling siren song. With the variables of weather, river level and clarity, tides, ocean conditions, other anglers, and luck all in play, as often as not, an angler’s dreams of Chrome encounters can be fraught with frustration. It’s easy to talk yourself out of going. But the chance to connect with the ultimate prize on Oregon’s fly fishing Mt. Rushmore entices anglers to roll the dice even when it looks dicey.
A recent 3-day outing illustrates: Day one came on the heels of some discouraging reports and featured constant torrential rain and wind, leading to a rapidly rising river. But the Two Dudes have good rain gear! So we launched, enjoying the kind of river solitude that only a true Oregon downpour can provide.
As the river steadily filled with mud, leaves, and debris, we cast hopefully for hours. Would the salmon also be coming with the flood? In short: Yes! Three hours in, salmon began to roll and crash the surface. And they were in a biting mood.
On days two and three, we were joined by our old friend, the Oceanographer. The weather improved, but thanks to Day one, the rivers were kinda high for fly fishing. Conditions slowly improved, but we saw only a few crackers here and there. Even the bait guys were shaking their heads.
In the end, you can’t catch ’em if they aren’t there. And while a few fish probably trickled past in the high flow, we spent our time casting and stripping, casting and stripping, casting and stripping until it was time to reel up and head home. A taste of success, followed by a full double-serving of skunk stew!
Can’t wait to try again!
As the month of October wound down, and some record-setting rain totals filled in, steelheading was good for those willing to brave the elements.
While always aware that we were at the mercy of the Army Corps of Engineers whims of dam control, the river level remained stable and fishable despite blown-out conditions downstream of rain-swollen major tributaries. On a typical day, by keeping our heels dug in upriver most of the trip, anglers enjoyed good fishing followed by a leisurely float out once the clarity and level degraded.
In amongst the soaking-downpour days (there were many!), there were still days with beautiful fall conditions to savor and great memories made.
Finally (inevitably) the other day, the rains were not to be denied: the gates opened at the dam, the river filled with leaves, logs, and riparian duff, and just like that, it was over for good. Now looking forward to late-Fall salmon season on the coast, and winter trouting and steelheading in the early months of the new year, it’s nice to remember the still-warm glow of yet another glorious October in the Willamette Valley.
The first couple of weeks in October have been a great reminder why we live in Western Oregon. With mellow cool weather, rivers in perfect shape, and fishing simply excellent everywhere, the biggest daily challenge has been deciding which fishery to enjoy.
While most anglers put their energies into the coastal bays, trolling herring for ocean-fresh salmon (any boat that’ll float will do),
back here in the Valley, we’ve been enjoying outstanding fly fishing for trout and steelhead. The annual October Caddis hatch has made for some memorable days on the Lower McKenzie.
And thanks to a generous return of summer steelhead to the upper Willamette Valley, we’ve seen some of the best Dry Fly Fishing for these great migratory rainbows in recent memory. Whether chugging a dry across the shallows or swinging for the fences with a spey rod, the fishing has been steady.
Now here in mid-month, the rains have come as they always must here on the windward side of the continent. As the rivers rise and fill with leaves (and fresh salmon), our focus shifts to the excitement of late fall and the challenge of timing the spates in pursuit of the Pacific King. Tying flies, dusting off the 10-wts, buying hand-warmers at Bi-Mart; there’s plenty to keep you busy while the rain and wind pound around outside the house. Here in Western Oregon as one season winds down, another adventure is always on tap.