Oregon Fishing Report: McKenzie River Trout and Winter Steelhead

The trout fishing on the lower McKenzie continues to be good. The weather conditions are unseasonably mild and dry, and the water is much lower and warmer than it would normally be in the middle of February (46 degrees yesterday). I am starting to see a bit more activity on the surface. There continues to be a good mid-day blue-winged olive hatch and a few march browns are starting to show. Look for the dry and wet fly fishing to improve substantially in the next couple of weeks. The fish that I have seen rising or caught near the surface thus far have been smaller or mid-size. The nymphing for oversize wild rainbows, however, has been very good.

lower McKenzie River rainbow, cropped

I understand that nymphing is not everyone’s bag. I much prefer to fish for steelhead, for instance, with a swung fly. I do have a couple of points, however, for those of you out there who are bobber-phobic. Nymphing can sometimes afford some great fishing opportunities, allowing you to reach fish that because of various conditions would not feed anywhere near the surface. In it’s most basic form, nymphing is relatively easy. However, I would argue that it is more difficult than most other types of flyfishing to become really good at. Working on your nymphing skills will teach you various nuances of the cast, drift and mend which you can then apply to your surface game. That being said, though, like most people I would prefer to catch fish on a dry fly.

The fishing for winter steelhead has been spotty lately, with some good days, but without big numbers of fish in any of Oregon’s central coast rivers. Last year we had a big group of fish show up at about this time in Lake Creek and the Siuslaw, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Some rain the last few days has brought the water levels up again, but things should drop into shape nicely by mid-week.

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