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Guest Author | 06/08/2023 | Outdoor Recreation

Your Guide to Year-Round Fishing Near Corvallis

Troy Haselip didn’t grow up an angler. Even after Haselip’s best friend showed him the ropes in 2004, he initially remained skeptical about fly fishing. “I thought, ‘Man, this is silly. This is just for yuppies and wealthy people,’” he says.

But Haselip kept at it and soon realized how much he enjoyed the thrill of the pursuit—hoping that fish would chase his fly, noticing how much a dry fly resembled an actual insect, and how different fish reacted to various flies. “When they eat it, you’re just like, ‘I can’t believe that worked,’” he says. “That’s an awesome feeling.”

Over the years, Haselip developed a deep affinity for the water—he calls it his “church”—and finds mental solace in the mindful pursuit of fly fishing. It’s a love that inspired him to fish seemingly every river and stream within 100 miles of Corvallis, purchase Watershed Fly Shop in downtown Corvallis in early 2015, and (most recently) partner with new co-owners Mark Putz and Eli Bjorklund to help as many anglers as possible find that same love for the sport.

Today, Watershed sells all the fishing gear an angler could hope for and offers a variety of classes and guided trips throughout the mid-Willamette Valley. We chatted with Haselip about his shop’s offerings, how he and his team are helping new and expert anglers alike, and where visitors can cast a fly around Corvallis all year.

When he took over Watershed Fly Shop, Haselip was already a seasoned guide and saw the opportunity to help new fishermen learn and improve on the water. Today, classes and guided trips are some of the shop’s most popular offerings.

Watershed’s classes include an introduction to fly fishing and a more in-depth casting lesson that covers knot tying, fishing techniques, and bigger-picture pieces of context—like the various species of fish that students will find in the Willamette Valley, where they live, and why they live there. (Steelheads, for instance, prefer deeper pools than other trout species.)

And in a twist that Haselip chalks up to COVID-19 changing our collective attitudes toward time management and large group gatherings, all of Watershed’s classes are offered when it’s most convenient for students—not at set, inflexible times. “It takes away some of the barrier to entry,” he says. Today, most classes feature two to four students.

Watershed also offers half-day and full-day guided tours around the Willamette Valley. These outings typically include water and snacks, transportation, all the necessary gear, and insider knowledge on where the fish are biting at that particular time. Haselip prides himself on offering tours away from the crowds—and routinely leads trips where the only other people he sees are his team’s other guides.

Haselip says the Willamette Valley’s wide range of water sources make it a fruitful place to try fishing. Within roughly an hour of Corvallis, after all, fisherfolk can fish in the open ocean, quiet estuaries, bubbling streams, alpine lakes, and mountain rivers. We asked him about where he sends anglers around the region.

Alsea River: The Alsea River begins near the community of Alsea, roughly 30 minutes southwest of Corvallis, before flowing westward—out of the Oregon Coast Range and into the Pacific Ocean near Waldport. (Technically, the river gets its start at the confluence of the North Fork Alsea River and South Fork Alsea River.) In fall, anglers fish for Chinook salmon; by winter, the river is rich with hatchery steelhead.

Luckiamute River: Known informally as “The Lucky,” the Luckiamute River flows out of the Oregon Coast Range and drains into the Willamette River north of Corvallis. It’s an especially popular springtime fishery for cutthroat trout, and Haselip says it’s great for anglers trying to build their confidence. “It’s not really hard to catch a fish,” he says.

Willamette River: Of course, the river that cuts through Corvallis is prolific in its own right. Salmon and steelhead are most common in spring, while smallmouth bass can be found year-round. Learn more about the Willamette River Water Trail, from which you can launch watercraft or enjoy public bank access.

Ready to hit the water? You’ll want to keep a few tips in mind before doing so; here’s a quick primer on getting started fishing near Corvallis.

Know where to go: Different fish will bite in different bodies of water at different times of year—making it tough to keep track of where to go and what’s in-season. Check in with a local expert (like the team at Watershed Fly Shop) to help plan your outing; the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife also offers a guide to fishing in the Willamette Valley, complete with tips on where to go, what to fish for, and tips for having fun.

Know the rules: The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has rules around seasons, bag limits, size requirements, and more—and those may differ among disparate types of bodies of water. For instance: Anglers can catch five trout per day, with an eight-inch minimum, all year long in lakes and ponds—but are limited to catch-and-release fishing, and only between May 22-Oct. 31, in rivers and streams. You’ll also want a license, as well.

Article by Matthew Wastradowski. Keep up with Corvallis news, events and happenings by signing up for our email newsletter.

Watershed Fly Shop

Watershed Fly Shop is a full service fly shop in Corvallis, offering all the equipment and information you need to get out on the water, as well as guided trips and more.

Buy the equipment you need, take classes to learn more about fly fishing, and book half- or full-day guided fishing trips with Watershed Fly Shop.

To book a guided fishing trip, call Watershed Fly Shop at (541) 207-3790 or email them at shop@watershedflyshop.com.

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