Ken Fortson has been a guest at Marble Mountain Ranch for the last three steelhead seasons. This however, was the first year he hired me as his fishing guide. Ken is remarkable in the preparation that he brings for his Klamath River steelhead hunt. Most people I know tie a few flies, or stop in at the local fly shop on the way in. Ken is different. He starts planning next years return visit during his current fish trip. Take a look at his “fly box” for this trip. It looks like a tray from the shelves of the local fly shop! All his flies are traditional classic patterns that look great in the box, or the jaws of a steelhead.
Yesterday we fished with Ken and his friend Jeff. We took two steelhead in the first hole, both on a Ward’s Wasp. Then things got quiet for us as we fished prime water for hours without any luck. After lunch, the cloud cover increased, the temperatures dropped, and the bite came on. We only connected with 4 half pounders, but we got into some nice sized adult fish. Ken’s friend Jeff was a first time steelheader and is now re-living the loss of his first adult (probably a 30 inch fish) due to an undersized tippet, and a death grip hold onto his fly line at the time of the hit. That fish hit, jumped into the air and Jeff was slammed forward into the front of the boat as his tippet snapped. Yes, you cannot expect to land the big boys with light tippet, tight drags, and tight grips onto your fly line….live and learn Jeff! Don’t bring a knife (the 6 – 8 pound tippet) to a steelhead gun fight.
Ken took a nice adult in the 24 inch range that was so hot that I didn’t think he would be able to net it. By the way, he had just upgraded to a 12.5 pound flourocarbon tippet. Here is the fish:
That is one of Ken’s “purple perils” in the corner of the fish jaw. Jeff’s connection with that run-away Klamath Steel was on a #6 Freight Train that I furnished. This morning at breakfast, Ken and Jeff committed to booking two guide days next year, with a rest day between them. They said I wore them out! Hey! That’s what you paid for!
So, the Klamath has had a remarkably fast drop in temperatures and by my thermometer read 58 degrees yesterday. There is still a lot of moss in the river, so keep an eye on your flies for contraband river salad, and bring gear sized for the largest fish you might hope to take!
Monday and Tuesday we fish with the editor from the Salmon Trout steelhead journal and the Redding Fly shop…..more adventures await!