Fishing Report for May 12, 2022

Willamette Valley Fishing and Home Waters Fly Shop fishing report for May 12, 2022:


  • The McKenzie River and Willamette River Valley has another storm system moving through the area this weekend. The National Weather Service is calling for over 1.5” of rain. While the clear weather in the last two days settled things down, the new system will certainly unsettle the rivers once again.
  • Boat fishing is really the only option for either the McKenzie or Willamette. If you plan on heading out, be sure file a float plan with someone, and to check the recently reported obstructions from the Oregon State Marine Board. 
  • Reservoirs remain fishable. However, the swings from lows to highs, and variations on storms have thrown off spawning rhythms. While it might be possible to find a few fish bedding down, they should be left alone. Let ‘em spawn. Instead, focus on those fish that have done their spawning early and are now moving out and patrolling the drop-offs, ready to eat.
  • All told, looks like this is a good time to take up bowling, maybe visit some local breweries, how about painting some happy trees? Just saying…

Middle Fork Willamette River:

  • Middle Fork Willamette from Oakridge to Black Canyon:
    • In general, water clarity is decent. However, increased rain and tough conditions have certainly turned off the bite until the weather settles down.
    • 3, 890cfs at the Oakridge gauge (but we expect that to rise in the next 12 hours)
    • Expect tough, wet conditions. As flows increase, the wading and boating will get more dangerous.
  • Middle Fork Willamette from Dexter Dam to Coast Fork Confluence:
    • In general, the water clarity is decent until getting down river from Coast Fork.
    • Flows at Dexter Dam are listed as “Above Normal” for this time of year. At 4,770 cfs and increasing by 11 cfs/hour. All the gates are open at Dexter Dam. The runs from Dexter to Pengra and Pengra to Jasper Bridge will not fish well. 
    • The gage at Jasper has flows “Much Above Normal” for this time of year. At 6,110 cfs and rising, this area down to Clearwater is also going to be tough.
    • Middle Fork from McKenzie Confluence up to Marshall Island
      • High. Muddy. Fast. 
      • Armitage is at 11,000 cfs and rising at 600cfs/hour. That’s fast and pretty much blown.
      • Looking to the bright side, big water helps bigger fish get into the system. We are seeing steelhead numbers ahead of the count this time last year. When things settle down, we will be out swinging some of our favorite runs!

McKenzie River:

  • Below Leaburg Dam:
    • In general, water clarity is down, turbidity is up, and there is debris in the water. When fishing, keep an eye upstream for any hazards being carried your way. When things go bad in these conditions, they go bad fast. 
    • Fish have gone down deep or are staying in closer to the softer water along the edges. If you’re out there, look for areas of decelerating water and softer currents. Throw heavy nymphs to get down.
    • Flows below the dam are listed as an “all time high for this time of year” at 8,380 cfs. This is neither safe nor fishable. 
    • Walterville is at 6,440 cfs. That classifies as “much above normal” for this time of year. Again, those flows making fishing conditions tough. 
    • Lastly, both Hayden and the Mohawk River are listed as “all time high” and “much above normal” with flows at 9,230 cfs and 1,280 cfs respectively. Like we said, bowling is a great hobby, too!

Reservoirs we Fish:

  • Given the weather systems effects on the rivers, we think reservoir or lake fishing is the best bet if you need to scratch that fishing itch.
  • For those interested parties, here are the current levels of our local reservoirs:
    • Hills Creek: 64% full
    • Lookout Point: 60% full
    • Dorena: 98% full
    • Cottage Grove: 99% full
    • Fall Creek: 66% full
    • Fern Ridge: 99% full