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Klamath stocked with trout

By late August every year you can count on the half-pounder run entering the lower reaches of the Klamath River, not far below the Oregon border.

Half-pounders are steelhead (ocean run rainbow trout) that are 12 to 18 inches in length that will be returning to freshwater during the next three months. They go up the Trinity River as far as Grays Falls, only adult fish seem to be able to climb the falls. On the Klamath River, they will work their way upstream and move into the tributaries as the water levels rise with the rainy season.

The upper limit of their range on the Klamath is the Scott River, about 25 miles down river from I-5. They will winter over in fresh water and migrate back out to the ocean in March. These fish are not yet able to spawn and the reason for their migration is not known.



During the 1990s the Klamath steelhead runs were terrible. For some reason in 1999 the half-pounders returned in large numbers and each succeeding year the runs of adults and half-pounders have been good. The 2004 run has started with a bang. I have received reports from the mouth of the Klamath of anglers having 60 fish days. These early season numbers are ahead of even the 1999 run. The water temps have been high (70 -72 degrees). This has not stopped the half-pounders from being active, but the salmon in the lower river have lock jaw and the adult fish are few and far between.

But the good news is that the water temp is about to change for the better. On Sunday night, the water releases into the Trinity River went up from 450 cubic feet per second to 1,650. This water starts its journey to the salt at a frigid 46 degrees. Depending on weather conditions, it could cool the lower Klamath from a couple of degrees to 6 or 7 degrees. If it gets below 65 the salmon bite will turn on. This flow will be slowly ramp down back to 450 cfs by mid September. This flush of cold water should also bring more fish out of the salt. So look for good fishing on both the Klamath and Trinity rivers this fall.




Driving to the mouth of the Klamath is an eight-hour drive, but it is worth it. The fish camps and facilities are not up to modern yuppie standards. It is an area frozen in the 1950s. New and slick give way to tradition and practical, somewhere in the middle of the coast range. An alternative is to wait for the fish to move up river and go for them on the Trinity which is three hours closer. Either way, this season is starting out very strong and you owe it to yourself to go at least once.

The sooner you go, the warmer the weather will be, and the more daylight fishing hours you will have per day.

Meanwhile back in the Sacramento Valley, the numbers of salmon going over the Red Bluff diversion dam have taken a jump. Three weeks ago the fish counts were a dozen or so per day. A week ago they hit 50 to 60 per day and this past weekend they went to 168 on Saturday and 303 on Sunday. This is a week or two late, but a welcome sign for the Sacramento River salmon fishing. The Woodson Bridge launch ramp east of Corning would be my recommendation for cool water and bright fish.

Last Wednesday, a good group of salmon arrived in the Oroville area. It was probably the best day so far this season for angling results. This is the time to get to the Feather River. The fishing will vary between fair and excellent depending on the day and the arrival of fresh fish. There is a higher proportion of dark fish in the low flow section. Some of these are the spring run fish getting ready to spawn. The newest arrivals are more likely to be caught in the high flow stretch of the river.

I will be conducting a steelhead fishing class through the Sierra College Community Education Classes, September 25-26 at Sierra College. Look for the “Kaleidoscope” class catalog to be in the mail soon. These catalogs are usually available at local post offices.

ooo

Denis Peirce writes a weekly fishing column for The Union and is host of “The KNCO Fishing & Outdoor Report,” which airs 6-7 p.m. Fridays and 5-6 a.m. Saturdays on 830-AM radio. He may be reached via e-mail at denisp@theunion.com.


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