McKenzie River Reflections - Make the McKenzie Connection!



Fishing in the McKenzie River area

Hatchery Trout

All hatchery rainbow trout released into the McKenzie River are marked with an adipose fin clip and anglers must release all non fin-clipped (wild) trout in the mainstem river. The lower 11 miles of the McKenzie River below the Hayden Bridge - and the McKenzie River upstream from Forest Glen Boat Ramp at Blue River - are restricted to angling with lures and flies only, and all trout must be released.

Native Trout

Native rainbow, often called “McKenzie redsides,” occur in the mainstem McKenzie upstream to Tamolitch Falls and in the lower portions of medium and large tributaries above Leaburg Dam (Indian, Gate, Marten, Deer, Quartz, and Horse creeks and Blue River, South Fork McKenzie, and Smith River).

Legal-size hatchery rainbow trout are stocked in the mainstem, including Leaburg Lake, from Bellinger Landing (River Mile 19) to the Forest Glen Landing (RM 53.5) and in Blue River above Blue River Reservoir.

The name “cutthroat” is derived form the two red slash marks or streaks on the underside of the lower jaw. On some fish this mark may be indistinct or lacking. Cutthroat trout are ubiquitous throughout McKenzie River and the rest of the basin, living in most perennial streams, including areas above Tamolitch Falls and small, higher gradient tributaries not inhabited by rainbow trout.

Hatchery produced cutthroat trout originating from Hackleman Creek in the upper McKenzie watershed are released into some small, high elevation lakes.

Small cutthroat rear for several years in the tributaries and then migrate to the McKenzie River. They rear in the McKenzie until they are about 10 to 12 inches long and then return to the tributaries in early spring to spawn. Many live to spawn again.

Brook trout

(Salvelinus fontinalis) are not native to the McKenzie Basin. Naturalized brook trout populations in streams in the McKenzie Basin are often locally abundant and composed of small but mature fish. Brook trout have established naturalized populations in Hackleman Creek, the upper mainstem McKenzie from Clear Lake to Trail Bridge Reservoir, and in the upper reaches of Horse Creek, Blue River and the South Fork McKenzie.


are native to the McKenzie Basin and are one of the most abundant fish in the mainstem McKenzie. One population is confined to the South Fork McKenzie above Cougar Dam, and the other is found in the mainstem McKenzie up to Trail Bridge Dam and includes the South Fork McKenzie below Cougar Dam, and the lower portions of larger tributaries such as Gate, Quartz, and Horse creeks and Blue River.

Chinook Salmon

Onchorynchus Tshawytscha. Spring Chinook start their migration from the Pacific Ocean in late February-March and reach the McKenzie River area through the summer. The angling season for Chinook closes on August 15th on the Mckenzie to preserve the only wild run of Spring Chinook in the Willamette Valley. The fish don't eat during their migration, living off fat stored in their bodies.


are not native to the McKenzie River. Summer steelhead smolts have been released each year beginning in 1972. About 95% of the fish returning to the McKenzie River are hatchery produced and can be identified by an adipose fin clip. Smolts are released direct from Leaburg Hatchery just below Leaburg Dam and the returning adults tend to concentrate in this area.


are found in the lower McKenzie up to  Hayden Bridge, but in warm years may occasionally be found  upstream as far as Leaburg Dam.

Other varieties of fish found in local waters include include northern pikeminnow, speckled dace, redside shiners, suckers, sculpins, sticklebacks, and lampreys.


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