The mighty Klamath River once hosted some of the largest runs of Chinook salmon in the western states along with enormous runs of steelhead. It is over 260 miles long originating in the vast high desert region of southeastern Oregon. The Klamath enters Northern California just north of the town of Yreka along the I-5 corridor.
Once over the border the river enters a steep, rugged and remote canyon and flows unhindered by dams the rest of its long journey finally spilling into the Pacific Ocean about 20 miles south of Crescent City. The Trinity River is the largest tributary to the Klamath system and enters the Klamath River at Weitchpec.
Steelhead in the upper Klamath typically run smaller in size with an abundance of “trout sized” half-pounders, 14- 18”. The average adult steelhead averages around 4-8 pounds.
We typically fish the upper river just below Iron Gate Dam during two distinctly different seasons:
During the fall/winter months we fish techniques similar to the Trinity River – side drifting indicators with nymphs or swinging traditional flies with Spey rods and switch rods.
In the early summer months we fish from a drift boat casting big dry flies that imitate the robust salmonfly and golden stone hatches that this river is famous for. We target big rainbow trout and occasional steelhead still in the system.
The “lower Klamath” near the town of Klamath Glen is a popular destination among traditional steelhead anglers during the summer and early fall season. This is one of the best destinations along the west coast to target fresh-from-the-ocean steelhead with Spey rods. A typical day will produce lots of “half-pounder” hookups providing steady targets. But there is the possibility of hooking a 10Ibs plus chrome rocket – the fish you are really searching for – and the one fish that you will never forget!