The Willamette River
The Willamette River, for fishing purposes, is almost inseparable in my mind from the McKenzie. That is because, in the "good old days" (Ha!) one fished the McKenzie vicariously in winter and early spring (read March Brown hatch here) by fishing in the Willamette. Since the McKenzie was closed in the winter until Opening Day in late April, the drill was to float down the Willamette from in town to the confluence of the McKenzie. Only occasionally was the Willamette itself fishable, but the McKenzie was usually clear, and the McKenzie water would flow in and stay separate and clear for at least a mile downstream. It was THAT mile that could be fished.
I did that awhile and then began venturing into the lowest riffle in the McKenzie and found the March Brown hatch even better. I invited the regional biologist to come fishing with me one day with the intent of showing him the great MB hatch and the potential fishery that could be had of the McKenzie was opened up for winter "whitefish" fishing. On that day I showed at the landing but the biologist didn't make it, so I went off down river anyway. I eased up into the first McKenzie riffle and was having a blast catching whitefish that were slamming the heavy MB hatch when I looked up and saw a state game trooper across the river with binoculars and a camera with a telephoto lens taking pictures of me.
"What river are you in?" he yelled over to me.
At that point it seemed silly to play dumb so I answered, "the McKenzie".

He seemed statisfied with that, then yelled, "what are you catching?"
He seemed really angry about that, then yelled "row your driftboat over here!"
Now that was really asking a lot. I could have jumped in the boat and rowed off downstream and he would have had to guess which landing I might take out at, and he was asking me to walk down the riffle, drag the boat back UP the riffle by hand, then row over to him to probably get a ticket! But I did it.

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Willamette story continued
Middle Willamette North Fork
Willamette in Eugene
Willamette Falls
Flyfishing TOC
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