Peninsula Fly Fishers

Klamath River Fishout

The first Klamath River fishout took place just outside of Happy Camp. Leaving the Bay Area early Friday morning Dave Black, Les Penpraze and myself had an easy, but long, commute through Redding and Northern California via Highway 5. Mount Shasta ruled over the Northern tundra and provided a magnificent backdrop as we drove through the area.

We arrived mid afternoon and checked into the Thompson Creek Lodge before scouting out the area and possible fishing spots. The first and only stop that day was a river access just outside of town. We saw a few fish rising and even managed to catch a few small, very small fish.

Being that we were in town and the drive back to the lodge was 15 or so minutes away we decided to have dinner. The local pizza restaurant offered up a great pizza and beer that the three of us failed to entirely consume. It was surprising that here, in this small hamlet, exists such a great find if you enjoy pizza.

That evening Wally Johnson, the local guide we booked, met us at the lodge and laid out the course for the following day.

In the morning we got ready and headed off to the local cafe to meet Wally. The cafe is part of the local general store and the owner, Rick, got in early to fix a breakfast for us. It was certainly large enough for us.

The river was high, up to its banks. Wally indicated that sinking lines were in order, or if you did not have sinks then a sink tip may do. As we suited up and prepared our gear Wally prepared the drift boat and launched it from his back yard.

Once on the water we took a short trip upstream until we hit a large riffle. Wally gave us the lay of the stream and deployed us at different positions. No more than two casts and Dave Black was into a nice fish. Unfortunately it was not to be the last LDR (Long Distance Release).

This was the first stop of the day and all three of us had opportunities of fish. Some caught, Some missed and Some got away on an LDR. Never-the-less, each of us now knew there were fish in the water and used our varying tactics to try and seduce the fish to take our offerings.

The day progressed and we moved down water. Sometimes swimming flies from the boat and sometimes wading we managed many hookups, strikes and even a few landings.

After fishing this riffle it was decided lunch was the thing of the moment. As we ate lunch Wally set to work on Dave's rod and tied on what appeared to be a three inch green butt skunk. He cast it into the water, to check the action, and before it even settled a 4-5 lb. steelie grabbed it and took off. Dave was into a new fish without even trying.

Les, Dave and I had numerous opportunities, some of which we converted into releases of nice fish but nothing compared to the friendships and time spent together on the river. The day was a bit cooler than the previous day but the sun came through the cover, the trees and foliage were all in their autumn splendor, and the river was magnificent. Nothing greater than sharing this environment with a couple of friends.

The last fish of the day was caught by Les. We were drifting through the tail out of the riffle, all of us had been getting hits at various times and Les managed a nice adult just before we headed for the take out. The river canyon was getting darker and the shadows were on the water, it was time to head for the lodge or dinner.

The next morning we took our time in getting ready. We had decided to try the river just below the lodge. We walked down to the river and took up positions along the water. For the next couple of hours we cast into an unproductive stream. That is unless you count the couple of smolt caught.

It was now time to think about heading home. After packing the vehicle we set out for a leisurely drive and scouting trip along the Klamath River. We saw several access points that looked promising and determined next time to give them a try.

Once again on Highway 5 we stopped in Mt. Shasta and lunched at the Black Bear Restaurant. We had visited one the way up which proved to serve a decent breakfast and soon learned that this location did just as well with lunch.

On the way back home the three of us discussed the attributes of the trip and learned that all of us had a great time, caught fish and looked forward to a longer fishout for this river.

Richard Catanzaro

Peninsula Fly Fishers 1976-2022
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