From the snow capped Cascade Mountains to the Willamette Valley the McKenzie is 80 Miles of world-class fishing.
The “beaten path” stops well shy of this federally designated Wild and Scenic River. The crystal clear McKenzie River rises in the Cascades’ Clear Lake and flows through spectacular McKenzie Pass, past towering Eagle Rock, 80 miles to Eugene/Springfield where it joins the Willamette River.
The upper river hosts mainly Rainbows, to 20 inches. The lower river, near Springfield, is home to Cutthroats, to 16 inches. The average trout caught is about 12 inches.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife requires catch-and-release of native “McKenzie River Redsides.” They stock the river with over 100,000 catchable hatchery Rainbows each year. A day’s limit is five. We use some in our full-day trip’s lunch fish fry.
Grant McOmie takes you boating on the McKenzie River on a classic McKenzie-style drift boat with the grandson of Prince Helfrich. Prince Helfrich was was one of the earliest to design and row the McKenzie-style drift boat down the streams of the greater Pacific Northwest.
You can tell a lot about a “community’s pride” by the parades they put on. Each spring on the McKenzie River, there is a dandy and all of it is handmade! Folks from all over the country gather to parade down the McKenzie River in drift boats. It’s a chance to connect with old friends and revisit history; a time when wooden drift boats ruled Oregon’s rivers.