Though this prolonged lack of precipitation has not been good for the steelhead fishing on the coastal rivers, the dry spell has brought the inland rivers down and into nice shape. As of this writing, the lower McKenzie is running at a low and clear 3700cfs, and many of its mature rainbows are actively feeding on nymphs, looking to put on some weight before the spring spawn.
Though the water is still pretty cold (it was 42.5 degrees Farenheit this afternoon), many of the good-sized wild rainbows on the lower McKenzie are still pretty active. When the river comes into good shape in the late winter or early spring, you typically won’t catch large numbers of fish, the ones you find are usually much bigger than average.
It is still a little early to find these nice fish feeding on the surface. Though there is a blue-winged olive hatch in the afternoon, typically only the smaller fish will come up on top to feed on these bugs. We will have to wait until the March Brown hatch arrives later this month to have a good chance to hook some of these bigger fish on a dry fly.
Various nymphs are effective this time of year: different types of stonefly nymphs, mega-princes, possie buggers, pheasant tails, and assorted smaller patterns like pheasant tails and copper johns will all take fish.