What Are The Kinds of Fish In Klamath River?

The Klamath River in California is the only river in the state to offer fish after fish action. It’s famous to many anglers around the country because it’s home to some of the largest fish in the world. Additionally, fishing in the Klamath River will test your skills when you’re reeling in an aggressive fish.

That said, you might be interested in fishing in one of California’s best fishing spots. There are many fish species in the Klamath, including trout, salmon, and steelhead. 

In today’s article, you’ll find everything you need to know about fish in the Klamath River. Not only that, but you’ll get a few tips and tricks for your next fishing trip in the Klamath River. So, if you’re an angler who wants to know more about Klamath River fishing, continue reading!

How Many Species of Fish Are in the Klamath River?

The Klamath River flows 263 miles from its headwaters in Oregon to the Pacific Ocean near Requa, California. Draining an area of about 16,000 square miles, it’s the second-largest watershed in California. Additionally, it’s also known for flowing towards the mountains and through the rugged Cascade Range and Klamath Mountains.

Now, fishing in the Klamath River is an excellent outdoor activity because there are many types of fish in it. In case you’re wondering, here are some of the species you can find in the River:

Pacific Lamprey

Rainbow trout

Bull trout

Coastal trout

Chum salmon

Fall chinook salmon

Coho salmon

Shortnose sucker

Lost River sucker

Summer steelhead

Winter steelhead

Klamath River Fishing Tips

As you can see, there are many fish that you can encounter in the Klamath River. If you’re planning to fish in the Klamath River anytime soon, here are some tips and tricks you should know about!

Best Places to Fish in the Klamath River

The Iron Gate Dam tailwater and Happy Camp are two of the most popular places to fish in the Klamath River in California. Most parts of the River are accessible to wade anglers. Still, most suggest using a drift boat for the best fishing experience. 

It is best to fish in the lower sections from September to October, from the Trinity River to the Pacific Ocean. In this part of the river, you’ll find salmon and steelhead. If you’re planning to visit in November through March, the Upper River is where you’ll want to stay.

Best Time to Fish

The best time to visit the Klamath River depends on what fish you’re trying to catch. Salmon migrate to the system between August and November. Half-pounders follow the salmon and feed on salmon eggs in November.

On the other hand, winter steelhead enters the Klamath River in January and February. However, fishing can be tricky during this season.

What You’ll Need

Of course, you’ll need different fishing gear for different types of fish.

With a 9-foot, 5 to the 6-weight fly rod and a floating line, you can fish nymphs and small streamers for half-pounders. For steelhead, you can also use 7 to 8-weight. Fishing with weighted nymphs and a 12-foot leader tapered to an 8-lb test is also effective. Two-handed rods are an excellent option for the lower river and allow you to cover more area.

Can You Fish In the Klamath River?

Many anglers wait for the Klamath River fishing season because of the fishing action that the river offers. If you’re willing to get up at the crack of dawn, the Klamath River offers the perfect fishing experience. With its clear water and hard-fighting fish, it’s a popular spot for anglers looking for a day of fun.

That said, you can undoubtedly fish in the Klamath River. However, it isn’t a problem if you’re not into fishing. 

You can also enjoy other outdoor activities near the Klamath River, including:

Visiting the Trees of Mystery.

Joining a canoe tour at the Yurok Redwood.

Taking a look at the Radar Station B-71 bunker.

Seeing wildlife.

Trying local food and drinks.

Are Any Fish Protected in the Klamath River

The Klamath River can be located in northern California and is regulated according to statewide fishing regulations. With this, you must familiarize yourself with the rules before going on a trip.

Additionally, the lower Klamath closes each summer for Tribal ceremonies. Some regulations protect salmon and steelhead during their migration.

Is the Klamath River Open for Salmon Fishing?

As mentioned, there are two salmon runs in the Klamath River. While it’s open for salmon fishing, there are regulations that you have to follow.

Spring Season (July to August)

The bag limit is one salmon of any size per day (with a maximum of two in possession). There are also dates you have to remember:

Salmon fishing from the river’s mouth to the bridge at Weitchpec runs from July 1 to August 14.

Salmon fishing from the bridge at Weitchpec to the Iron Gate dam is closed to Salmon fishing until August 14.

Fall Season (August to December)

The fall salmon run in the Klamath river has a quota of 1,221 adult salmon. A daily bag limit of two Chinooks (one shouldn’t be bigger than 23 inches) applies. Additionally, there’s also a possession limit of six, where you can keep three salmon greater than 23 inches.

Once the quota of 183 adults is harvested from the Spit Area, it will no longer be accessible.

A quota of 611 adult salmon applies to the Klamath mouth to the bridge at Weitchpec.

Salmon fishing from the bridge at Weitchpec to the Iron Gate dam has a quota of 208 adults.

Is It Hard to Catch Fish in the Klamath River?

Catching fish in the Klamath River is not difficult at all. Given the variety of fish it’s home to, anglers from all over the country flock to Klamath for a one-of-a-kind fishing experience. Of course, some anglers may find it challenging. With that said, here are a few reminders to make your Klamath fishing trip easier and more enjoyable.


Steelhead Fishing

The Klamath River is home to two different runs of steelhead: the winter and the summer run.

Keep in mind that the first fish of the summer run often go into the Klamath River’s lower part from the ocean as early as July. However, the peak takes place from mid-August to mid-September. On the other hand, the winter-run is what anglers look forward to. Steelhead, in this run, arrives in November and stays until February.

Most steelheads are half-pounders, while others weigh around 5 to 7 pounds. Additionally, there are also a few 10-pounders every year.


Salmon Fishing

Chinook salmon are known as the Klamath River’s giants. The River has two salmon runs: the fall run and the spring run.

Generally, the spring run offers more challenges because the fishing is slow-paced, but Chinooks in this season are feistier. Additionally, the spring run takes place between April and June. The fall run happens in August and peaks in October. 

It’s not uncommon for anglers to catch Chinook salmon in the 10- to 15-pound range. Not only that, but a few lucky fishermen catch a 20- to 30-pound Chinook every year. 

Trout Fishing

Klamath River is home to tons of rainbow trout ranging from 12 to 20 inches. The best time to fish trout in the River is from mid-May to early July. In addition, trout fishing on the upper Klamath is a great experience because it’s narrower and more conducive to wading and fly-fishing

Plan Your Next Klamath River Fishing Trip

Now, there is no better way to spend your day fishing at the Klamath River. For those who love a challenge, you’ll find thrill and some of nature’s most energetic and dynamic fish waiting for your skillful tackle. What are you waiting for? Get ready and prepare for your trip today!

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