Who does not love to cast into rivers or streams for big, hungry trout?
Mark me down as one who cannot resist the allure of magical places that hold big-finned secrets in the riffles and runs.
So it is this week as we travel to a designated Wild and Scenic section of the broad-shouldered Klamath River in Southern Oregon.
We joined a couple of pros who know just the right flies to cast into the river and provide us with a chance to catch the Klamath’s red-band rainbow trout.
The adventure began south of Klamath Falls on a roadway that demands your attention!
A rough roadway with bumps and jumps that lend a jarring ride down a single track dirt road that leaves you wondering: where's this adventure headed?
And then you arrive – riverside!
Where scenery softens and the world is reborn along Oregon’s remote wild and scenic Klamath River.
My hosts, Darren and Jen Roe of ROE Outfitters, told me that the Klamath River Canyon is mostly known for its rafting, but wanted to impress me with why it needs to known for fishing too.
A fishing adventure that started with the requisite rod, reel and waders.
Plus, a collection of imitations of nature’s creations that promise to catch fish.
Darren noted his preferences: “Stone files and red headed prince nymphs and a salmon fly and a golden stone. You want to unhook your fly, not walk up too close to the water and then just plop it in closely – then pick it up and go a few feet further.”
High buttes crown the canyon rims as the Klamath River carves its way through Oregon’s volcanic Cascade Mountain Range for 11 miles to meet the border with California.
You can easily watch the canyon come to life as vegetation cools the riverbanks, junier and sage and pine shade covers the boulders so to provide a home for insects.
“The biggest passion here is the fly fishing,” noted Jen. “It’s a great large population of red-band rainbow trout and their food source is the really incredible and diverse aquatic and bug life.”
The Klamath River is managed as a summertime catch and release fishery, so that means flies or lures only – no bait allowed.
Once I got the hang of the technique: casting and then stripping line, I too was into fat rainbow trout.
The fish are all wild red band rainbow trout and it is prolific fishery – the fish range from 9 to 16 inches and average 11-13 inches.
The river has been protected as wild and scenic since 1994 - a special place that’s a distant world away from city hubbub and noise and aren’t we lucky it’s that way.
Jen offered: “ It’s really just about getting off the main highway, getting out and exploring all of these great things like the Klamath Lake wetlands and the river and lake fishing – too many people pass it by. They don’t think it has anything to offer and that’s really wrong.”
“It is so peaceful and it is so quiet," added Darren. “It is so beautiful here too - I think it’s just a well-kept secret and I honestly think people just don’t know it exists.”