Summer Trout Fishing Report: Upper McKenzie and Middle Fork Willamette Flyfishing

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Though it is true that the dog days of summer don’t produce the most prolific hatches of the year, fishing has been good throughout the summer on the wild upper section of the McKenzie River as well as the Middle Fork Willamette between Hills Creek Dam and Black Canyon campground.

Wild Middle Fork Willamette Rainbow

Fishing pressure has been light on these stretches, with the fish responding surprisingly well to large attractor dry flies and dropper nymphs.

Upper McKenzie Wild Rainbow

This oversize wild rainbow came out of 10 feet of clear water to attack the Chubby Chernobyl. It ate the fly so aggressively, you can only see a little bit of wing poking out of its mouth in the photo.

Upper McKenzie Bull Trout

The bull trout pictured here attacked a smaller trout my guest had hooked in a deep pool. I don’t know what happened to the little rainbow that appeared to be about 10 or 11 inches; whether it ended up in the bull trout’s belly, or was somehow knocked off the hook and escaped. When we landed the bull it was fair hooked on the same prince nymph the smaller trout had eated initially. It was a strange and exciting encounter.


Hatches will intensify and fishing will only get better as we move into September with somewhat cooler weather and more cloudy days. Soon, short-winged stoneflies will start to emerge and join October Caddis, some Fall Drakes, and other assorted caddises on the menu.

Upper McKenzie Wild Rainbow

Fall is one of the best times of year to fish for trout on the McKenzie and Willamette, and without a doubt the most productive time to flyfish for steelhead in our Willamette Valley rivers. Now is the time to book fall fishing dates. Don’t miss out on some of the best fishing of the year!

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