The Middle Fork Willamette was a great steelhead fishery for us this Summer; however, it remains an option through the Fall as well. With well over 20,000 fish over the falls this year, numbers are good and now is still a great time to catch a steelhead on the Willamette. The Fall is a beautiful time on the Willamette: the leaves are changing, the river runs cooler, and cloudier days create awesome steelhead fishing weather. With cooler air temperatures, the water temperatures drop as well which means fishing can be good from dawn to dusk, especially when clear skies are not in the forecast. Also, as the weather cools, It seems the fish will hold in more of the glassier, calmer runs rather than the shallow “riffly” ones that are spots we frequent during the dog days of Summer.
Anywhere downstream from Dexter Dam through town is where a majority of the fish are. While you can still fish floating lines with traditional wet flies with good results, using a light sink tip with an articulated leech pattern remains the most consistent method in my opinion. The Fall trout fishing can be good too, so don’t always let the spey rod have all the fun…bring the 5 wt along!
There is a lot of great “walk-in” access for steelhead on the Willamette. While floating the river will always present the most opportunity, don’t be hesitant to hit the river if you don’t have a boat. There is a ton of great water from Dexter Dam downstream to explore on foot. Get out there and enjoy some fine Fall fishing!