the McKenzie River
McKenzie River flows nearly sixty miles from its source high in the Cascade
Mountains to the Willamette River, 200 miles from the Pacific Ocean. Though
it's source are many ice fields, many consider Clear Lake to be it's beginning.
Hundreds of years ago a lava flow dammed Fish Lake Creek and Clear Lake
was formed. Today, still standing submerged trees, preserved in the cold
waters, can be seen in the depths of Clear Lake.
The upper McKenzie, defined from Sahalie and Koosah Falls to Blue river,
is very swift and a favorite for Oregon white water rafting. The McKenzie
river fishing can be good early in the season but boating this section
is very difficult in the later summer months.
The middle section, from Blue River to Leaburg, is the most popular for
the sportsman wanting to experience the many moods of McKenzie River fishing.
The clear waters and many boulder fields offer many places for the fly
fisherman to find excellent trout fishing. A word of caution, only experienced
boatman should attempt to float this section. There are two class 3 rapids
(Brown's Hole and Martin's Rapid) and many areas that require good oar
work. The Eugene / Springfield is home to many McKenzie River Fishing
Guides that can help you fish this area.
The lower McKenzie River, from Leaburg to Springfield, offers the most
diverse fishing on the McKenzie River. Beginning in April, McKenzie River
Summer Steelhead begin their migration up the river and continues through
summer. Fly-fishing with wooly buggers and single egg patterns work well
as do large caddis patterns.
For those wishing to pursue even larger fish, the McKenzie River supports
a great run of Spring Chinook Salmon. In recent years, as many as 15,000
salmon have returned to the McKenzie. Fishing the McKenzie River for these
fish require many methods and tactics. Back-bouncing bait, back-trolling
Kwikfish and bobber fishing provide most of the action. Knowing where
to find Salmon is also important. The peak of this run is May through
June, and fish can be caught through July.
McKenzie River Trout fishing on the lower section is also quite diverse.
The section from Hayden Bridge to the mouth is restricted to artificial
lures / no bait allowed and is open year-round. This has allowed the Native
Cutthroat population to rebound and offer fantastic fishing in the hot
The McKenzie is best known for its Dry-Fly fishing. Throughout the whole
river, Wild Rainbows (Redsides), Native Cutthroat and the many hatchery
reared Trout respond well to Caddis, Pale Morning Duns (PMD's), and Stimulators.
A #4,#5 weight rods are recommended.
The McKenzie Drift Boat, designed in the 30's and 40's, by the first McKenzie
rivers guides, is a must when plying the McKenzie's many rapids and boulder
fields. This boat enables the fisherman to stand in the front and cast
into the likely places where fish can be found.
Campgrounds are found up river from Blue River and many Bed and Breakfasts
can be found in the McKenzie Bridge / Leaburg area.
Eagle Rock Lodge (on the McKenzie) http://www.eaglerocklodging.com/
Heaven's Gate River Cottages
(on the McKenzie) http://www.heavensgaterivercottages.com/
Village Inn (Springfield)
University Inn (
Downtown Eugene) http://www.eugeneuniversityinn.com/
Inn (Springfield) 541-746-8471
Motel 6 (Springfield)