Lower River Report February 2022


Last super bowl Sunday, I decided to brave the crowds, and fish the lower McKenzie from Armitage to Crossroads. I put in around 1pm and the weather was perfect, high cloud cover and 65° or so.

The river is surprisingly low at 3,000cfs in Springfield on the McKenzie, and 5,700 in Harrisburg below the confluence on the Willamette. This made for a little bit more figuring out as far as tactics go. I started off fishing a #16 Purple Haze in some of the nice looking dry fly water just below Armitage, but had no action. I tried the dry in a few more spots, especially below the confluence to try to entice a cutthroat, but still, no love. I started off fishing the usual suspects, big and small possie buggers, mega prince, jigged girdle bug, and had a decent amount of success, including a few fish that wanted to eat my indicator.

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Finally, I stopped on a perfect little gravel drop off and decided to tie on the tried and true #10 jigged prince. Having not fished that pattern for a few years, and what would you know, I caught probably a dozen fish all on the jig prince in that spot. I also changed out my top fly for a smaller jigged prince and didn’t have to switch up my rig for the rest of the day. I was fishing the new Oros indicator (they’re awesome) with 2 flies, bottom most fly was 7 or so feet under the indicator. Lower water conditions on the Willamette and McKenzie have warranted fishing a bit smaller flies than we’re used to this time of year. The classic mega prince and possie bugger were still working, but there was a noticeable difference sizing down on the nymphs and showing them something a little more slender.

I was surprised with how well the river was fishing, and it should just get better as the water warms up a bit and we get some more bugs coming off. It’s time to get out there!

Justin Helm

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