This winter has been one of the most mild on record here in the Willamette valley. As a result, we currently have relatively low and warm water conditions on the Mckenzie River, and the lower reaches of the river are already starting to fish well. This time of year, many of the river’s mature rainbows are feeding, trying to stockpile some calories before the spawn later in the Spring.
My buddy Kyle Duke and I fished a couple different stretches of the lower McKenzie recently with surprisingly good results for this early in the year. There has been a good mid-day hatch of blue-winged olives, but I only saw small and medium-sized cutthroat trout and rainbows feeding on them. As is typical early in the season, the larger fish were feeding closer to the bottom. We managed to catch some really nice fish using various nymphs fished off an indicator. The Possie Bugger and the Mega Prince (#8-#10) were the most effective patterns in my boat, though a variety of patterns can be effective. The March Brown nymphs are currently staging to hatch. At one point, Kyle caught a nice rainbow that had a fully formed March Brown nymph crawl out of its mouth during the release.
With weather and water temperatures warmer than is usual, I anticipate some very good trout fishing early this Spring on the McKenzie. The lower river generally fishes very well March through May, with the exception of periods when snow melt and heavy rains make the water high and off-color. This year, given the very light snow pack and a mild weather forecast, I expect the fishing to be better than usual early.