Literary Angler – Winter Trout Fishing

Winter morning on the McKenzie

The weather looked pretty good – cool but no wind or rain.  So I booked a day trip on the McKenzie with Clay Holloway for Friday, January 21st.  Dennis Oster and I drove from Portland to Springfield that morning in a dense fog the entire way.  Traffic was not too bad and everyone was being cautious – even the truckers were obeying the speed limit.  We met our guide at 10 a.m. at the Riverview Market near the Hayden Bridge and drove to the Hendrick’s Bridge Wayside boat ramp to put in.  The river was high and pretty fast, but it was very clear.  To find fish we would have to work the seams next to the stronger currents.  After stowing our gear and getting the rods ready we pushed off.  Clay had a small outboard motor on his drift boat so we could return upstream to work through a good run several times.  We fished an indicator bobber positioned about 3 feet above a weighted black stonefly nymph.  A weighted tan stonefly nymph was secured to the first nymph at a distance of 18 inches or so. Dennis and I took turns fishing from the bow of the boat.


Hefty bow hooked on the dropper

I hooked and landed a beautiful 18 inch rainbow trout in the first drift.  This gave me the feeling that it was going to be a good day.  We worked our way down stream trading positions after each fish we caught.  It was cool and to stay warm we put on gloves when we were not fishing.  The action was steady all day with most of the fish over 16 inches.  A few reached 18+ inches in length.


Most beautiful rainbow

Florescent McKenzie trout

Clay’s knowledge about where the productive seams were on his home water was spot on.  Overall we landed 17 fish – 3 were white fish and the rest were all native rainbow trout.  The big ones were very colorful and full of fight.  Just before the take out, Dennis landed a nice fat trout that was nearly 19 inches in length.  Not to be outdone, I had the last opportunity to fish and caught another feisty 18 incher.  It was a great way to start and finish the trip! We loaded the boat on the trailer and Clay dropped us off at our car.  It was just after 3 p.m.  We changed out of our waders and headed home arriving around 5:30 p.m.  We could not have asked for a better day of winter trout fishing.

John B. Pyrch



McKenzie rainbow in winter