The Klamath River has finally entered it’s Winter pattern of repeated rains followed by short periods of clearing. The flows have been up accordingly, and the river has been at times full of floating debris and suspended sediment. However, the last week has not given us any blown out days, just more challenging days in wet weather with lunatic fringe fishing compatriots. Here is the flow graph from USGS as reported at Orleans.
If I am fishing in water with large amounts of floating detritus, or in water that is off color, I fish with fly patterns that are easily distinguishable from the suspended trash. Why should I tie on a brown/green small fly when there are billions of other small brown/green pieces of trash zipping by a steelhead and competing for it’s attention? Why not go with RED as the predominant fly color in this scenario? Here is my proof:
A babine special, glow bug, polar shrimp or some form of contrasting and attention grabbing fly is my go-to pattern in these conditions.
Pete and I have fished most of the week with guests from all over the globe. We have had a couple from Germany, a steelheader from Colorado, an ex-fishing guide from Washington state, a hotelier from Eureka, a west coast beer distributer, and my long term returning father/son friends Bruce Sr. and Bruce Jr. (Bruce to the second power in mathematical terms) from the Sacramento and San Francisco area. The daily creel count has been consistent at about 8-9 half pounders and one adult in the mix. The adults however, are seldom pushing past that 4-5 pound class and it makes me wonder where the big bruisers are this year. There is a lot of press lately about sand berms at the mouth of the Klamath, Low Klamath River flows, and recently about possible abuses of gill nets by the Hoopa and the Yurok indians. I don’t have any desire to point fingers in this forum, so I am going to contrast this discussion with a cyber HIGH FIVE and thank you to my neighbors the Karuk tribe for limiting their ceremonial and subsistence fishing to the practice of dip netting at Ishi Pishi Falls. This tactic is selective to the species desired, is more authentic in tradition than monofilament gill nets strung out with jet boats, and is nearly impossible to over-fish with. You cannot leave a dip net out over night and drown a hundred salmon and steelhead by the time you decide to come back in a day or so.
Here is how the Karuk do it, and in my opinion do it right. This is Ron Reed, a neighbor of mine, who’s son I taught math to at Happy Camp High.
My ancestral stock is viking stock from Denmark. This was a rather tough, brutal bunch of boaters that most of Europe built hundred foot castle walls to defend against, and frankly I am glad for the loss of this part of my personal cultural tradition. I carry on my viking fishing and boating tradition by catch and release fishing with a barbless hook fly while carrying a tasty deli sandwich in the cooler! No need to maraud, pillage, and plunder these days, thank goodness. As for the Karuk tradition of Dip Netting, my thought is “go get-em” and please try to stay on the top of that slippery rock and out of the falls.
Here is a parting shot from this weeks released harvest of chrome: