Note: Blue River and Blue River Reservoir were heavily impacted by wildfire in 2020. Check for access and fishing conditions before planning a trip to these locations. Similar impacts occurred along the McKenzie River in this area.
This McKenzie River tributary and impoundment are most popularly fished for trout stocked during the spring and early summer months.
There also are wild trout in the stream (primarily cutthroat), with harvest opportunity above the reservoir, and small numbers of steelhead may be caught in the lower river.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife traditionally starts stocking this stream and its reservoir in early spring and continues with regular plantings until early summer.
These waters are most frequently stocked with legal trout (8-9 inches), but ODFW also is likely to plant some larger “trophy” rainbows, especially in the reservoir.
Most hatchery trout are caught fairly soon after they are stocked, so you’ll have to work to find them later in the summer, but modest trout angling will continue through the season for a few surviving hatchery fish plus resident wild trout in the creek.
A small number of summer steelhead from the McKenzie River can find their way into lower Blue River.
Steelhead start arriving by mid-spring, with the greatest numbers present in the McKenzie itself by June and July, but they potentially could be found in Blue River from the late April opener through the end of the season in October.
But we are talking about just a handful of steelhead harvested each year here, far below the catch in the McKenzie itself.
The lower river is located at the community of Blue River on McKenzie Highway (126), a little over 40 miles east of Interstate 5.
To reach the reservoir as well as the stream section area where trout stocking occurs, remain on McKenzie Highway a few more miles and then take Forest Service Road 15 (a.k.a. Blue River Reservoir Road or Old Scout Road).
This will take you along the side of the reservoir and then will provide all the access you’ll need to upper Blue River, which is the primary trout fishery.
Blue River historically is stocked in about five spots within a five-mile section from Blue River Reservoir upstream to Quentin Creek.
As with most stocked streams, the best way to find exact stocking locations is to find the limited number of sites where truck (and angler) access to the river is good.
Specifically, bridges, pull-outs and similar places where the road nears or crosses the stream are potential stocking sites, which also will have more angler traffic.
Also remember that most hatchery trout planted in moving water are caught right at the stocking location or within a short walk in either direction.
If the stocked location (often a pool) is crowded or fished out, look nearby for much smaller pockets of water that other anglers might have missed.
Trout can hide in surprisingly small places, such as alongside large rocks and in small riffles.
Conversely, since those stocked areas get the most fishing pressure, there also tend to be fewer native cutthroat trout in those areas because they get caught in larger numbers.
So if you are specifically looking for cutthroat trout, spend some extra time to get to the stream in more difficult access spots, try Blue River above Quentin Creek, or try fishing in the tributaries.
There is a boat ramp and camping at Lookout Campground in the upper reservoir, although the ramp tends to be out of the lake and above the exposed creek later in the season. There also is plenty of camping in the McKenzie River corridor.
Blue River is now open all year, but bait fishing is allowed only from the fourth Saturday of April through Oct. 31 each year.
Above the reservoir, anglers may keep five hatchery trout and up to two wild trout (without a clipped adipose fin) that are at least 8 inches.
Steelhead that are 24 inches in length or under must also be fin-clipped, but steelhead larger than 24 inches may be kept even if their adipose fin is intact.
The reservoir is open all year with a five-trout limit.
Check the regulations for updates.
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