Willamette Middle Fork River

Willamette Middle Fork River

From right below the dam at Dexter Reservoir on down to its confluence with the Willamette Coast Fork, the Middle Fork offers good opportunities for Summer Steelhead and Spring Chinook fishing. Above the Dexter and Lookout Point Reservoirs on up toward Hills Creek Reservoir, there is some good trout fishing available, especially popular among fly anglers. The dams however represent the “end of the road” for returning salmon and steelhead as fish ladders were never constructed at the dams to allow passage to original spawning grounds for anadromous adults. For this reason, the salmon and steelhead in the Willamette Middle Fork are largely dependent on smolt releases from the hatchery programs. The 30 mile long stretch from the dam down to Springfield has a very rural character with few residences lightly scattered between the opens-pace greenway created by the numerous parks located along the river banks. The entire stretch can be very productive for catch and release fly fishing of Redsides (native Rainbow) and Cutthroat Trout. If boaters are fortunate, deer, Bald Eagle, and an occasional elk herd can be viewed particularly on the stretch from Dexter Dam down to Jasper Bridge.

Spring Chinook fishing here usually runs from April through July, peaking in May and June. The Summer Steelhead fishing will sometimes start in late arch and continue into October. Most of the classic steelhead fishing methods will produce catches. Casting spinners and swinging heavily weighted flies are both popular and very effective methods for catching these feisty Summer-Runs. As in most valley rivers, back bouncing and float fishing baits in the deeper holes tends to be the number one method for catching the Springers. Back trolling a diver-bait set-ups in the deeper runs can be equally productive.

From the start of the Main Stem Willamette at the confluence of the Coast Fork, the river corridor begins to take on a very different character, as residences and development becomes more visually obvious. Over the past decade ODFW has engaged in a very popular and successful experiment in steelhead release locations. Approximately 10,000 smolts per boat ramp are released annually within the Eugene and Springfield city limits. The returning adult steelhead actually find their way back to the pools and runs near their original release points and linger long enough to give fishermen a fair shot at catching a nice fish. This urban fishery has become known as the “Town Run” and is immensely popular for locals who like to do very short drifts or just put in and take out at the same launch, no vehicle shuttle required. It affords folks the opportunity to fish from the boat for just an hour or two either before or after work.

Middle Fork Willamette River & McKenzie River still Producing Late-Arriving Spring Chinook

Wes Connected with Numerous Late-Run Spring Chinook Over the past 10 days we have had great luck finding some quality Spring Chinook,…

The Middle Fork Willamette is also producing some Quality Fish

June 28, 2016
  We had a very pleasant drift yesterday on the Middle Fork Willamette with several chances on feisty Summer Steelhead. Despite…