Mid February Mckenzie and Willamette Report


Recent cold weather has slowed trout fishing significantly. Several days and nights of cold temperatures have the fish slowing down and conserving energy. Nymphing, however, has been the most productive method of targeting trout as of late. On particularly warm days you may see an afternoon hatch of Baetis or “Blue Wing Olives”. For fishing nymphs and dries, due to the cold weather, your presentation is especially important. On cold days, you often need to present your flies right in front of the fish’s nose to entice an eat. On warmer days, the fishing should improve.


With lower and clearer water, fish have been able to key in on smaller bugs. This is opposed to when the water is high, often it takes a larger nymph or streamer to get their attention. Trout being opportunists, will happily eat stray nymphs of any species and size knocked off the bottom and into the current. The bulk of what the trout are eating lately are small baetis as they emerge during the warm parts of the day. 


Small nymphs with a slim profile imitate these Blue Winged Olives the best. Some great baetis nymph imitations are: our new Bender Baetis #18, new Roza’s Jigged Pink Pheasant Tail #18, Beadhead Lightning Bug #16, Split Case BWO#18, MFC Jigged Perdigon #14, or a Rainbow Warrior #14-16.

Note the slim profile of the mature Baetis (Blue Wing Olive/BWO) nymphs

Larger stones are in the systems still and occasionally are blown into the current. These large bugs are like a “Bone in Ribeye” to trout and serve as a high calorie meal; they are rarely passed up unless smaller flies are hatching in abundance. Some great Stonefly patterns include: our new Jiggged TJ Hooker #8-12, our new Jigged Peacock Girdle Bug, the new Swimming Drake #12, Tunghead 20 Incher #8-12, and one of my favorites the Double Bead Epoxy Peacock #8-12


If trout are rising, fishing dries can be productive. They will be seen rising in the slack water on the softer side of seams or in the tailouts of runs eating emerging mayflies or “duns”. Sometimes, however, it is too cold, flows are too high, or the fish gorge themselves subsurface, so fishing dries will not be conducive. If conditions are favorable, the hatch will begin between 11 and 1 and depending on the weather can last from 30 minutes to a few hours. 

As the day warms up swinging a soft hackle or fishing a subsurface emerger can be very productive. A size 16 olive soft hackle, Bender Baetis #18, or a Baetis CDC Emerger #18 mimics these emerging nymphs well.

A newly hatched Baetis dun drying its wings on the snowy bank

If fish are seen rising, they are likely taking emergers in the surface film or duns riding the surface. Some of my favorite patterns for emerging BWO’s are Baetis Cripple #18 and Almost Dun BWO #18. Our new Galloup’s OG Bent Olive Cripple #18 makes for a great imitation of a Blue Winged Olive emergence gone wrong. Trout being opportunists key in on things like this so be sure to pay attention. Several patterns imitating duns work great like the high vis Hatch Matcher BWO #16-18, Parachute Extended Body BWO #18-20, and Tilt Wing BWO Dun #18.

Don’t let the cold weather deter you from going out. Bundle up, get out there, and enjoy the outdoors. Theres always fish to be caught!


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