When I pulled up on shore he looked into the boat at 10 whitefish I was keeping for the smoker.
"Well I'll be damned," was all he could say.
"I was supposed to be with Hutch today to check out this fishery officially, but he didn't show up," I said, dropping names and quasi-legal purposes quickly.
In the end, he let me off in spite of the fact that the McKenzie was closed to ANY fishing, Hutch DID come with me the next week, we DID propose that the lower McKenzie be opened for a winter fishery, the biologists and state troopers DID back us on the proposal, and it DID go through. After 4 or 5 years of a winter whitefish fishery that allowed C&R on trout, we proposed the lower McKenzie for a C&R and artificial lure only year-round fishery. That's how the current regulations occured. Through the Willamette!
The trout fishable Willamette can be divided roughly into three sections. The mountain stream Willamette that exists above Hills Creek Reservoir. The big, fast, river Willamette that flows between Hills Creek reservoir and Lookout Point reservoir, and again from Dexter Dam down through the heart of Eugene to the confluence with the McKenzie, and then the big, slower, valley Willamette that starts meandering north toward Portland. All three sections have much better trout populations than are generally assumed. To promote fishing in town I used to sponsor a club contest for the biggest rainbow caught (measured and released) within the city limits, and it was won every year by a 19 or 20 inch fish!
It is the lower, valley Willamette that feels so much different as a river. It is so big that one is often fishing one of several braids. Also, the valley floor is more loam than gravel. The bars are firm and there is less loose rock. It takes a good hatch to get the fish to reveal themselves, but then they are proverbial, not real, suckers. There is very little fishing pressure down here.
Now that I am committed to it, I'll start to work on getting the Willamette on film. There is a LOT of it. We are talking 80 or more miles of river just to Eugene, from 2500 to 50 feet!
Lower Willamette pictures =>
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Willamette Falls Willamette in Eugene Middle Willamette North Fork
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