McKenzie Fishing well despite high water

The river levels have been rising and falling like a yo-yo on both the McKenzie and Willamette this spring thanks to the heavy precipitation resulting from the La Nina weather pattern. That being said, the McKenzie has continued to fish well throughout these fluctuations. The same can’t be said of the lower Middle Fork Willamette, where steelheaders have been frustrated by the high flows for most of the last month.

On Thursday, the 12th, Steve Pailet returned for a long-overdue engagement with the trout of the lower McKenzie. Despite the weather being too nice for great fishing (bright and sunny–nice problem to have!), the fishing was steady and entertaining primarily with nymphs. Steve reveled in the day on the water, connecting with lots of cutthroat, rainbows, and some magnificent whitefish.
Check out a couple of shots from the day:

Deschutes salmonfly season is upon us. Scott and I will be splitting our time between the valley and the Deschutes canyon for the next month or so. Looking forward to some of the best trout fishing of the year!

Plenty of Trout for everyone

The weather has finally mellowed out, the river has been at a steady flow, and good mixed hatches have got the resident trout in a feeding rhythm. On a recent 2 boater, Jeff Besecker ended up riding solo for the day in the front of my boat. This is the ideal situation for working on dry fly fishing tactics as all the air space above the boat was all his. In almost every spot, start to finish, a native trout responded to Jeff’s offerings. It was pretty easy to get Jeff’s cast tuned up and when we found free rising trout, he was all over them.

Over in Matt’s boat, Greg and Taylor chose to avoid back casting conflict by sitting back and swinging wet flies for most of the afternoon. From our angle it looked like a good choice. I dont think I ever saw them put the flies out and not catch something. At one point we saw Matt’s boat beached on a gravel bar with Matt out in the water and Greg and Taylor laughing and high fiving. We boated in for a closer look just in time to see the second release of a double up catch of over sized rainbows.

We all enjoyed being out for the 3rd nice weather day of the year. To top it off we stopped in at Mazzi’s for some homemade pasta and Taylor treated us with two perfectly complimentary red wines. I love my job! Thanks everybody and check out the photos:

Lower Willamette Spring Chinook Report

On Monday, I joined my buddy, Phil Lyman for what has become our annual sortie for Springers on the Willamette near downtown Portland. Phil is a lifelong veteran of this fishery. I am a total rookie in all aspects of the deep-water bait game. But the promise of a chrome bright chinook makes me more than ready to surrender my fly fishing sensibilities at the ramp.

Although the morning bite was tepid at best, in amongst the 20 or so other boats, finally it was my turn. I waited patiently for the fish to turn and then let him have it. After a tense battle (where I admit I couldn’t tell if the fish was 5 feet or 50 feet away at any given time) we finally got the beauty to the side of the boat. At the last second as I lifted the heavy rod along with 6oz. sinker high (Bad Matt! Bad!), the fish shook its head and threw the hook. Phil calmly set down the net and went about rebaiting my rig.

“That was probably a $200 fish, you know,” he said a few moments later, reminding me of all of our fruitless trips in years past. I didn’t need reminding.

Back to business: not even 10 minutes later, the rod started twitching again. Unbelievable! Redemption! With an audience of some 100 Sellwood regulars all around, I managed to get this one to the net. Life is short on second chances. This one was truly sweet!

Check out the rest of the shots from the day. Thanks, again, Phil!