Mackenzie River, OR

Anybody have any good intel on the Mackenzie in OR? I will be in Eugene at the end of the month and have an extra day to burn without commitments to activities other than fishing. I will be camping just outside of Eugene right on the river the first night and am willing to do some driving, if need be, to get into some fish the next day.

I've done a bit of research already and sounds as though the fishing could be worthy of bringing along a couple of rods and some flies. I was planning on reaching out to the local fly shops for info, but thought it wouldn't hurt to ask here as well.

Please feel free to pm me if you don't want to out spots here.


Active Member
If you have a drift boat or pontoon, Hayden Bridge to Armitage is an easy float. Not hotspotting; everyone knows this float and there is plenty of room for everyone. Just study google maps to know which channels to take. Fished it for the first time a month ago and we caught a few dozen fish. Nothing over 12”, but fun. Usual trout dries and nymphs. If not floating, fishing right at Armitage is close, easy, and can be productive. If you have time, you could head to the more scenic upper river. Can’t give you any good info on that stretch, never been there. Have fun!
At the time of your visit the best activity will be early and late in the day. Caddis activity particularly in the evenings. The higher you go up the river the cooler the water will be, although walk-in access becomes limited; check out the boat ramps and campgrounds. The stretch below the dam can be good.
While in the area, the Middle Fork of the Willamette all the way up to Oakridge is also a fine stream.
Check out "The Caddis Fly" shop for info. Their blog often has reports and suggestions for the river.


The trout are there. It's C&R for the river close to Eugene so just about anywhere you can access the river is not a bad spot. Bxboy is correct, this time of year, unless clouds move in, the best time to fish the river is morning and evening. At one time in my life, once or twice a week I'd drive down to Armitage after work and fish until the sun went down... and it was just before the sun did go down that we'd catch -- or they'd break us off -- the largest trout.

You will catch quite a few 10-12 inch trout but there are indeed much larger ones in the river.


5-Time Puget Sound Steelhead Guide of the Year
I've caught a bunch of steelhead on the McKenzie. The run has been struggling lately but god damn is it a gorgeous place. One of my favorites.

Trout fishing up high is world class (50+ fish days are the norm) but takes a very skilled oarsman...only 2-3 local guides run it.
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A guy named Galen Haas who I understand today is a real estate broker in Eugene used to run a guide service, Northwest Whitewater Excursions including the Mackenzie. His trips set the Gold Standard for comfort and excellence. He would be a great resource if you can find him. He may have his own brokerage now with a Coldwell Banker franchise in Eugene. Another resource guiding this river today is Helfrich Outfitters. They are third or fourth generation guides on this river and the Grandpa actually invented the McKenzie drift boat, now the model for all drift boat designs today. I fished back in the early 80's with Kenny Helfrich and his daughter now runs the business. They used to do a fish fry at lunchtime, cooking up 40 or more rainbows for our group, campfire cooking in a cast iron skillet. We also would hook a random steelhead or two also. I don't know if anyone kills trout these days...They are more precious than diamonds. Good luck. If you find Galen tell him hi from Joe Coakley in Kirkland, Washington.