McKenzie and Willamette River Steelhead Report: Fall is Prime Time

Willamette River Steelhead

The fishing in the upper Willamette basin for summer steelhead has been outstanding lately. The conditions have been perfect: low, clear water, lots of overcast, and cool temperatures. These factors, combined with the bumper crop of steelhead that have returned to area rivers this year, are a recipe for success.

Jim Reichman with Willamette Steelhead, cropped

I have been swinging flies exclusively, varying the line and fly with the speed and depth of the pool as well as the light conditions. In low light conditions, I have been bringing fish to the surface on skated dry flies and relatively small, low-water dress wet flies. In the fall, direct sunlight on the water seems to be less of an issue than it is earlier in the season. Even on sunny afternoons, the fish have been moving well for a small leech swung on a sink tip.

Bright Willamette River Hen

While large and heavy flies certainly have their applications, less is often more when it comes to fly selection. When the water is low, clear, and in the optimal temperature range (between 50 and 60 degrees farenheit), small, slight and inobtrusive flies will often out-produce the enormous offerings that are so en vogue currently.

Willamette River Steelhead, cropped

The fishing for summer steelhead on the rivers around Eugene will likely stay good until fall rains drive them up and out of shape. Anyone who is interested in getting out, learning about steelhead fishing and behavior, and experiencing some of the best fishing our area has to offer should call or email. I still have some dates available for the second half of October.

Reed Heine with a Willamette River Steelhead

1 Comment

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One response to “McKenzie and Willamette River Steelhead Report: Fall is Prime Time

  1. Reed Heine

    Great trip! Ethan really helped my fishing technique.

    Eight (8)on, landed four (4). It doesn’t get much better for a “once a year” fisherman.

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