I need a wading jacket
The Middle Fork of the Willamette is one of the most under fished trout fisheries in the Willamette Valley if you asked me. There are others, but this is up there. I never make any sense to me. It’s not far from population centers like the Eugene/Springfield area or even Salem or even Bend (2 hours or less.) So I would think that the river would be crawling with old timers that have fished the river since my parents were kids and young guns who are after fish with a two hand rod and nothing else. But over the years I have fished the river I’ve seen a total of three other fishermen on the water. And when I say years it has been about 10 I think. So the fishing pressure is close to 0 if i had to guess. I’m Sure if you’re reading this and you fish the river all the time then you know exactly what I know. No matter how much people at the local fly shops, like the Caddis fly, Homewaters, Two Rivers, and Watershed, talk about it never gets the attention like the Mckenzie, Crooked, Deschutes, or the coastal rivers get. That’s fine for me and anyone else who wants to take the plunge and hit the river as well.
This is supposed to be a fishing report so I’ll list the hard facts. The weather was rainy, really rainy, which made me wish I had a good wading jacket, and a little windy with a high of maybe 45. The river was clocking in at 2000 CFS or so with next to no water coming out of Hills Creek dam. The water was ice cold. I had to add layers under my waders after I fished the first run of the day. The fish were in normal winter holding water, walking pace water with some decent depth. I waded pretty deep to get out to where I was within casting range. First fish was hooked in 5 minutes and lost promptly. I think that would’ve been my biggest fish of the day. I caught four whitefish throughout the day, which I found odd I had never caught one on the Middle Fork before but it happens and I’m not upset by that. I think it was a total of 10 rainbows I got to the net. So it was pretty productive. The flies that won the day were a golden pat stone in size 10 and a duracell in size 12. The other honorable mentions were a pink squirmmy wormy, thread frenchie, holographic frenchie, possie bugger, and a red tag squirrel. I did catch a fish on a super heavy black bugger swung deep in this great run that would be a two handers dream run.
The runs on this river were large and perfect. This river fishes great all year long and has zero fishing pressure. If I were you I would plan a trip and get down there before run off and the dams open up. Side note it is a tough fishery, just be prepared to work for your fish.