The McKenzie river is one of the premier fishing rivers in the entire state of Oregon. Much of it is open year around to one form of fishing or another. Guided rafting and fishing trips are available all year around. Much of the river is catch and release for native rainbows so please treat them gently when you catch them. The ODFW stocks the river heavily in the spring and through the summer with legal size rainbows. In the mild years many of these hatchery fish survive over the river and can be up to 16″ long on their second year.
The McKenzie River drains a region of 1,300 square miles (3,400 km2) and is one of the primary tributaries of the Willamette River. Elevations within the region range from 10,358 feet (3,157 m) at the summit of the South Sister, to 375 feet (114 m) at its confluence at the Willamette River north of Eugene. The McKenzie watershed is bordered by the watersheds of the Calapooia, North Santiam, and South Santiam rivers to the north; the Middle Fork Willamette to the south, and the Deschutes River to the east. The watershed is lightly populated, with more than 60 percent of the land being owned by the government as designated wilderness area. The river, however, is the sole water source for the cities of Eugene and Springfield
The drift boat is the centerpiece of recreation for the riverfront Cascade communities. In the 1920s Prince Helfrich and Leroy Pruitt crafted the famous McKenzie River Drift Boat. They refined an open-water dory for improved maneuvering in river rapids, launching a design that is still used today. The McKenzie River Drift Boat is recognizable by its wide, flat bottom, flared sides, flat bow and pointed stern. The rower faces downstream. An example of the boat is displayed in the Eugene, Cascades & Coast Adventure Center in Springfield. Since its creation in the 1920’s the drift boat has become the choice for many river fishing around the world
Fishing with fly’s and lures is the most common practice along the river. Some of the sections do allow bait fishing for those who do not know how to fly fish. I recommend learning how to fly fish as it is extremely relaxing. There are trout and Steelhead in the river with an occasional Bull trout caught. Go and relax on the river!