Historic McKenzie Landing reopens

After a delay in part due to the rough weather that swept across western Oregon this spring,  the McKenzie River Trust, owners of several parcels of land along the banks of the McKenzie River, recently announced that its Finn Rock boat landing is again open to the public. In past editions of the Anglers Log, I shared most of the details of the rebuilt landing. Among those key features are improvements making the landing more accessible to a larger variety of users. Additional parking was added, and the lot was designed to minimize the potential of auto pollutants and other sediments from running off into the river. 

Steelhead continue to shine

It was mid-June when the 2024 run of summer steelhead surpassed the last best run that occurred in 2016 of about 14,000 steelhead. Now in the last days of June, the total run size has surpassed 15,000 steelhead, and new fish are still passing the Willamette Falls at a rate of about 225 per day. Steelheaders working the water below Dexter Dam on the Middle Fork Willamette or the McKenzie below Leaburg Dam, by boat or from the bank, have had “good” success already this season. On the McKenzie, which also has been abundantly stocked with hatchery trout, it’s a “barrel shot” – where limits of trout often include a bright summer run steelhead or two. In the river, trout and steelhead hold in the same water, and with this season’s abundance, the chances of doubling up has not been this good in years. 

Local trout stocking

Trout stocking becomes more sporadic in July and in general things have either wrapped up or are rapidly winding down for the season. But there are still plenty of opportunities to find a limit. In our area the McKenzie River will continue to receive regular deliveries of hatchery-raised trout until after Labor Day. Alton Baker Canal also is scheduled to get more trout this season.  For exact dates and locations, plus an interactive map, visit; myodfw.com/fishing/species/trout/stocking-schedule. 

Shining a light on sunfish

Bass are loved by some who appreciate their hard-fighting nature and the fact that in Oregon lakes and in some rivers small and largemouth bass often grow to trophy proportions – often reaching 5 or more pounds. But also “less loved” by others concerned about their presence in what were historically salmon, steelhead and trout habitats. Sunfish species are not native to Oregon, although largemouth bass were introduced with the approval of Oregon fisheries officials more than 100 years ago. By nature, largemouth bass generally stay where we planted them and have added to the diversity of available species in the resource they now occupy. Smallmouth bass were illegally imported into Oregon and have become the most problematic. Far more nomadic than largemouth, smallmouth have eaten their way far up into some of our most sensitive anadromous fish habitats. In resources where the smallmouth have unfortunately thrived, they are considered prime suspects in accelerating the decline of salmon and steelhead. Consequently there is no limit on the number of smallmouths you can catch and keep in Oregon.

Keeping it fun

In spite of themselves and their invasive designation smallmouth are only one of the most fun fish to catch on a fly rod or other light tackle. The fish is tenacious and in rivers and streams that have smallmouth, catching a couple of dozen in a day is considered only “fair.” Now If you catch me out on Siltcoos or one of the other trophy largemouth bass lakes in Lane County: In my rod lockers you’ll find; level wind reels, a dozen 7.5 foot graphic rods, braided lines, spinner baits, jigs, and a variety of hard and soft plastic baits. All in a boat that pushes 60 mph and five largemouth in the live well is a great day.  Whereas my smallmouth fishing has always been from a drift boat with fly rods, single-action reels, hand tied flies; always fun, rather simple, and relaxing.

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