Klamath, Trinity, Upper & Lower Sacramento River Fly Fishing Guide’s Report

IMGP1980December 2, 2014

This fall has been unseasonably warm and drippy, exactly the weather diehard steelhead anglers wish for.  As a result the fishing as well as the catching on the Klamath River has been exceptional with many of our regular guests enjoying their best days ever for both numbers and size of fish.  We still have a few guide dates available before the holidays get in full swing, drop us a line for availability!

Fishing on the Lower Sac, Trinity, and Upper Sac on the other hand has been more challenging, particularly for less experienced anglers as conditions have become quite technical, with low water and crowds on the Trinity, sparse hatches of small and tiny bugs on the Upper Sac and cloudy water from Shasta Lake at times spoiling the Lower Sac.


Flows from Iron Gate on the Klamath have been very low and steady at 950 cfs which is half the norm.  Water clarity has been three to five feet which has created ideal conditions and an exceptional bite.  Flows on the Trinity  have remained at 315 cfs at Lewiston, which is the norm but only 405 cfs at Junction City, so the low, crystal clear water is causing steelhead to sit in tanks with a very soft bite despite decent return numbers for Steelhead this season.  With wet weather on the horizon and hopefully some significant precipitation to move some fish, we expect conditions to change and hope to experience the same kind of epic days several guests enjoyed earlier this fall.  We do have some guide availability so drop us a line.

Releases out of Keswick on the Lower Sac have been low and steady around 4,000 cfs with some flow changes scheduled dropping to 3,600 today and 3,400 on December 8th.  The mean is 5,540 and the median 8,270 cfs so the fish are packed tight and very wary.    A great concern is the water clarity which has been varying from a foot to 3 or 4 feet at best.  Our guests recently enjoyed some spectacular days fishing egg patterns behind a few remaining spawning salmon we found, otherwise tiny nymphs have been the ticket particularly on the few days we’ve seen with fair hatches.  We’ve skipped the days (rescheduled trips) when the  clarity dropped and bugs are sparse but heard the bite has been tough.    Flows at Delta on the Upper Sac jumped this week from 250 and are currently at 405 cfs, which is still quite low.  Water temps are in the forties so the bite has been best midday.  This is the time of year we target large fish, it is technical and can be good fun for those interested in learning how to stalk and catch the biggest fish in the river.

2014-10-24 14.59.48photo 5IMGP1991Fishing Conditions

On the Klamath, anglers of all levels have been enjoying multiple steelhead days, but the solitude we typically experience has been lost as the word is out.  To preserve the experience we have spent a good deal of time on beats downriver from the Irongate dam reach.  Most adult steelhead have been running 2 to 5 lbs but several fish in the the larger range have shown recently along with a few hearty half pounders each day.   For those nymphing, legs and eggs have been the most consistent producers but later in the day when it warms some fish have been taking small nymphs as well.  Swinging flies has been quite good including a good number of fish on floating lines.   Sink tips with small leech and Intruder style patterns will become the top producers as temperatures cool.  On more than one occasion jigged or retrieved flies have out fished those swung slow and deep.  For details on tactics, techniques and flies, you might like to check out our post on Fly Fishing the Klamath in Winter, first published in California Fly Fisher magazine.

DSCF3814Fishing this fall on the Trinity was fair to good for the most seasoned anglers, but poor for those less familiar with the river.  With low, cold crystal clear water fish have “tanked” so even when you get the fish to take the bite has been soft. The biggest problem has not been a lack of fish, but the lack of rainfall so the fish are not moving and stale as a result.  The good news is that with steelhead in the system, warm temps and a few storms in the forecast the fish should get back on the grab and we could be seeing some great days coming this winter as well.   Eggs, stonefly nymphs, PT’s and Copper Johns have all found fish.  Swinging successfully for fish recently has been difficult at best.

Trophy Upper Sac Rainbow in winterAfter a spectacular fall season, the Upper Sacramento River has slowed,  and is now more of a midday affair nymphing and hoping to find a good hatch of Blue Winged Olives.  Nymphing the slow water in the biggest runs has been the most productive.  Finding productive runs and utilzing stealth to target trophy fish has been key.  With the dripping weather we are hoping to find some dry fly fishing opportunities utilizing our favorite dry dropper rig.  For more on fishing the Upper Sac in Winter check out our articles first published in California Fly Fisher, Winter Angling on the Upper Sac Year Round Angling on the Upper Sac.

IMGP1927Since the peak of the egg bite and Salmon spawning has passed, fishing on the Lower Sac has been a bit of a hit and miss affair with fair days outnumbering the great days.  The great days have been worth waiting for as some of our best fish of the season show this time of year.  We found a few pods of late spawning salmon last week and the fishing was epic.  Otherwise, hatches of mostly Blue Wing Olives have been sparse and unpredictable, if and when you find them they are also a bit technical as the bugs are tiny and the fish just sip them making hooking and landing the trophy trout that eat this time of season a challenge.

For the latest on conditions please drop us a line.  We are always happy to point you in a direction you might enjoy whether you are seeking guide service or not.  Wishing you and yours the very best of holiday seasons, we hope to see you soon!

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