Fishing Report: May 26, 2022

Willamette Valley Fishing and Home Waters Fly Shop fishing report for May 20, 2022:

Fishing Overview:

  • After a warm week with ideal fishing conditions, the Willamette Valley will see some rainy weather moving in. The National Weather Service is calling for showers through to Monday, with the heaviest rain falling on Saturday and Sunday. On the one hand, the cloud cover and rain should be good for more hatches. Think mayflies and caddis, maybe even some more salmon flies on the Upper McKenzie. On the other hand, the rain may bump the rivers with increased flows and some turbidity. I suspect that Sunday will be the worst day, leaving Friday and Saturday as still fishable. If there is a silver lining, the rain and cooler temps should help us anglers by keeping the Memorial Day PVC and College hatch to a minimum. Look to mid-week Tuesday/Wednesday for the turnaround to ideal conditions.
  • Flows dropped all week getting us back into the normal range. Water clarity is no longer an issue—at least until the rains come over the weekend. The Willamette is wadeable and those bigger fish (you know what we are talking about) are in—if in smaller numbers than we’d like to see. Though the flows have been fast, the McKenzie is in much better form. 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. 
  • McKenzie River fishing has been nymphs and soft hackles (stone, Pat’s rubber legs, Hare’s ear, Frenchie) for the most part. We have had some success with the dry (green caddis) when we see them coming off on the lower river. Carry that dry fly rod with you, or be ready to switch from the bobber to the dry when the fish start feeding on top. The evening bite on the soft hackle (dark Cahill, anything green) has been strong.
  • Willamette River fishing has been solid for dries, streamers, and nymphs. When the sun hits the Oakridge area around 10am, there have been some good caddis hatches. Come late afternoon, the streamers have been working for the bigger fish looking to feed. We like any personal recipe on a streamer that is sparse and cuts through the water column. Down deep has been best with most takes coming up the last part of the swing. 

Middle Fork Willamette River Report:

  • Middle Fork Willamette from Oakridge to Black Canyon:

    • Water clarity is good and the levels are wadeable. Look to some late morning mayfly hatches and tan caddis coming off. Nymphing until the sun hits the water is best. Then, start working that dry through the faster seams.
    • 3600 cfs at the NF of the Middle Fork above Oakridge and remaining steady. Expect this to increase over the weekend with the rain. It will be wadeable, if a little more pushy.

  • Middle Fork Willamette from Dexter Dam to Coast Fork Confluence:

    • Water clarity is good and turbidity is down. The spigot has been turned off at Dexter bringing flows down. The spike has messed with the bite somewhat, moving the fish higher in the water column. Good news is: the bigger fish are in and ready to take. Go and catch yourself a unicorn.
    • Flows at Dexter Dam are at 1640 cfs and remaining steady. That’s much below normal for this time of year.  The run from Jasper to Pengra is fishing, if a bit boney. New timber down through the whole run with new root wads just peaking through the riffles. Keep an eye down stream through your normal runs. 
    • Jasper has flows at 2180 cfs and rising by 60cfs. This is below normal and it shows. The swingable runs have slowed down. Fish are holding in the deeper water or along the cut banks. The good news is crawfish that were up high are moving back to the water levels. If you know what this means, then you’re in the know!
    • Middle Fork from McKenzie Confluence up to Marshall Island
      • Armitage is at 6550 cfs, which is normal and remaining steady. This is the best stretch for finding good swing water right now. Through the confluence is fishing well. Those committed two-handed peeps should find a happy place there throughout the week.

McKenzie River Report:

  • Below Leaburg Dam:

    • Water clarity is good and the flows are returning to normal (at least until the rain hits this weekend). Fish have moved up in the water column and into more familiar feeding lanes for warmer weather fishing. However, the temperature drop this weekend will most likely change that. Therefore, come prepared for all situations.  
    • Flows below Leaburg are at 5670 cfs. This is much above normal making boating the better but in that area. There is a slow drop in flows (20 cfs/hour). Whether or not that holds through the week given the rain is another matter.
    • Walterville is at 3280 cfs. That classifies as “normal” for this time of year. The flows are rising here at 20 cfs/hour. This is the range of the river where the dries and well-fished streamers are in play.
    • Lastly, Hayden is at 5930 and rising by 80 cfs/hour which is normal. But, the Mohawk is still humming along at 460 cfs but remaining steady. This is adding to some clarity issues down the line to Armitage and “Last Chance” islands. Believe it or not, we had our best luck swinging through here. With the flows dropping and some hatches happening, the fish seemed keyed on soft hackles rising in the hang down.

  • Above Leaburg Dam:

    • Water clarity is outstanding (as always). While flows have been dropping the river remains fast making the boating much more manageable. As a result of the sun hitting the water through the burn scar, we are starting to see a lot more insect activity, especially caddis.
    • Nymphing, has been the most productive. The combo of a big stone to get down and a mini-possie bugger dropper (#10) or a pheasant tail has been the ticket.
    • Look to the decelerating, softer water, or the down-stream seams. Those are the feeding lanes. If anchoring, make sure you’re out of the main current and tucked up to the bank. There are still trees making their way down stream in the current. Always be aware of your surroundings!

Reservoirs we Fish:

  • For those interested parties, here are the current levels of our local reservoirs:
    • Hills Creek: 84% full
    • Lookout Point: 59% full
    • Dorena: 98% full
    • Cottage Grove: 100% full
    • Fall Creek: 83% full
    • Fern Ridge: 99% full