A very nice wild rainbow trout fly caught on the McKenzie. Wild fish like this (note the presence of an adipose fin between the tail and dorsal) must be released in many lakes and rivers. Always check the regulations. Frank Armendariz/The Creswell Chronicle
The calendar tells us that summer is still several days away, but the weather has been loudly proclaiming that summer arrived several weeks ago.
Fortunately we had a wet winter with above-average precipitation and conditions are exceptional. Key among the beneficiaries of the water are all the southern Willamette Valley reservoirs, lakes and ponds, which are completely full – some for the first time in several years.
The abundance is also reflected in the runoff that has our local rivers still flowing at levels more typical of early spring than early summer.
Coming off Father’s Day weekend, our cup is running over with good angling opportunities.
• More specifically, starting on the eastern edge of Lane County, the high lakes of the Cascades have been fishing very well this spring. These lakes are easy to access from the Willamette Valley and include Crescent Lake, O’Dell, Hills Creek Reservoir and Fall Creek Reservoir, essentially accessed from Highway 58. Suttle Lake, Clear Lake, Blue River Reservoir and Leaburg Lake can be reached from Highway 126.
• Generally speaking, you will find generous limits on a larger variety of harvestable fish species in the Highway 58 lakes. Kokanee, rainbow trout, lake trout and even bass, both large- and smallmouth, are present. Along Highway 126, with the exception of Suttle Lake that has Kokanee, lake trout and some bass too, only rainbow trout are planted for recreational harvest. The proliferation of other species actually has been suppressed in favor of native fish that include bull trout, salmon and rainbow trout, aka Red Sides in the more pristine McKenzie River drainage. In all cases, the lakes in the eastern part of Lane County are in wonderful condition and producing well in early summer.
The river fishing has been good, too, with the McKenzie having some of the best success rates in the southern Willamette Valley. Heavily stocked with rainbow trout from Hendricks Wayside upstream to Finn Rock, I’ve seen plenty of limits from both boat and bank anglers. Fishing with baits, spinners or flies, successful anglers are running their lures close to the bottom.
• In far western Lane County, in the Florence-area lakes, the bass are off the spawning beds and it’s time to fish structure as they spread in the lakes. Soft plastics, spinner baits and crank bait consistently produce. Offshore, the wind laid down last week and the Pacific Ocean settled for a few days, allowing the bottomfish boats to get on the water. Though there were no exceptional reports, none of the reports that came to me were bad. I was assured that the season was just starting and will only get better and that it won’t be long before salmon and
• A bit of a downer… The spring chinook and summer steelhead fisheries continue to disappoint, with a few exceptions. Only about 16,000 springers and 2,200 summer steelhead have passed above the falls at Oregon City. In both cases, this is far below the 20-year average of 43,000 salmon and 17,000 steelhead. Even with so few fish in the system, some anglers have had good days. Both runs are now down to a trickle as viewed from the counting stations at the Oregon City falls; expect to have to work pretty hard to put one in the net.
Perfect River Levels http://www.rivertrailoutfitters.com/contact.html