Updated - 3/16/21
Scroll down for up to the minute stream flows and info about lodging
Current River Conditions: Hovering around 4840 CFS at Orleans/976 CFS at Irongate
Fishing - Fair: Steelhead fishing is dying down but the next thing to look forward to is the Salmon Fly and Golden Stone hatches. Irongate Dam area is your best bet right now to fish for native trout.
About the Klamath River
The Klamath River is one of the longest rivers in California. It stretches about 250 miles from south eastern Oregon to the Pacific Coast. Though the river is very long, two of the most popular and easily accessible sections are the Iron Gate Dam tail water accessed from
I-5 and from the community of Happy Camp down to the outlet into the Pacific Ocean.
Because of private land adjoining the river, the Iron Gate Dam tailwater section requires a watercraft to fish it. There is a dirt boat ramp near the dam where you can put in, and the takeout is about four miles downstream at Klamathon Bridge.
The characteristic of the water is riffles and runs with a few deep pools. Being that the dam is the location of the Iron Gate Fish Hatchery and it’s the furthest upstream the Steelhead and Salmon can travel, the fish tend to stack up in that area making for some wonderful fishing.
The lower section of the Klamath from Happy Camp to the ocean draws the most fishermen . Wading access is pretty good as Hwy 96 follows the river all the way to Weitchpec which is about 60 mi, so there is lots of river to explore.
Below Weitchpec most of the land is private or on Indian reservation, so no access is allowed. For that reason and because there are no boat launches on the Indian reservation, jet boats are the preferred watercraft.
There are many launching sites upstream from Weitchpec at Capell Creek, Big Bar (just north of Orleans), Blue Heron (south of R Lyle Davis Bridge), Dolan Bar, Green Creek, Precido Bar, Coon Creek, Independence Forest, and Chambers flat.
The last three are in the Happy Camp area. Some of the RV resorts have launching too. The more popular and productive runs are from Ullathorne (near Orleans) to Big Bar, Presidio (near Somes Bar) to Dolans Bar. Length of the runs vary from 5 to 8 miles. The section downstream from Happy Camp can be difficult to float due to roily water.
Most of the Steelhead on the Klamath are what are locally known as “half pounders”. The name is a misnomer as the fish range in size from 2 to 4 lbs. They are generally considered to be sexually immature fish that have spent a short time in the estuary or close to the river’s outlet and then returned for various reasons but generally to follow the Salmon as they enter the system in August through November.
The half pounders feed voraciously on Salmon eggs during the spawn in November, but until then they eat whatever the river has to offer. When the half pounders are in, there are usually a lot of them and the fishing can get silly. In January and February the large Steelhead spawners come into the system, but unless it’s a low precipitation year, the river can be blown out during that time.