Saving The Klamath River: An Interview With Fly Fishing Guide Craig Nielsen
CalTrout: Craig Nielsen is the owner of Shasta Trout — a Northern California fly fishing guide and outfitting service that regularly puts clients on the Klamath River (and catches a lot of steelhead doing it).
With the Klamath River, dam removal and the KBRA agreement being so much in the news these days, we thought we’d talk to Craig a little about his current experience on the Klamath River, how he thinks the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement might improve it, and what his hopes are for the river’s future. So many of California’s fishermen don’t know much about the Klamath, which features a good steelhead fishery — but could be home to a great one if given half a chance. Without further comment, we give you Craig Nielsen:
CalTrout: How often do you find yourself on the Klamath these days?
Nielsen: I was on it five of the last six days — about 60-80 days a year. It represents about 1/3 of my guide trips, but a larger proportion of our outfitting — we guide more big groups on the Klamath River.
CalTrout: What draws you to the Klamath?
Nielsen: I live here in Mt. Shasta; I’m close to to the Klamath. Plus, I like it and guests very much enjoy it. I fished with two guys yesterday who haven’t fished the Upper Klamath in years. They had a great time.
The Klamath went through some hard years and I think it fell off the map a little.
It’s a legendary river, yet most California’s fly fishermen haven’t rediscovered it, which is too bad because the steelhead fishing is great. I know a well-traveled fly fishing travel agent who fishes all over, and when I asked him to name a lower-48 steelhead river more productive than the Klamath, he couldn’t.
I’ve guided roughly 150 fly fishermen on the Klamath this season and I can easily count those who were skunked on one hand.
The steelhead aren’t that large, but the river’s very productive. I don’t fish for the salmon, but know that a lot of fly fishermen do, and I’d expect more would if the dams were removed.