Latest R&E meeting: Klamath and Williamson rivers

I’m back from the latest ODFW Restoration & Enhancement board meeting, this time held in Klamath Falls.  We had two great days of touring past, current, and future fisheries projects.  I have always been surprised by how few Central Oregon anglers venture to the Klamath Basin.  It is only 2-3 hours away, depending on where you go, and the fishing is both spectacular and uncrowded.One highlight of the meeting was an excellent overview of the upcoming removal of four dams on the Klamath River, slated for 2021.  We toured dams and some river stretches.  If the local biologists are correct, the Klamath River below Keno will soon be one of the premier trout fisheries in the state.  Perhaps the entire west coast.  It may also have a robust anadromous fish population.  Learn more here.

The history of Klamath Lake redbands is a frequent question among my angling friends.  Are these monster trout really landlocked steelhead?  Will they resume an anadromous life cycle if they are again allowed access to the ocean?  The biologists are certain that the redbands are not steelhead.  They are their own, distinct redband trout subgroup.  There may have been some breeding with steelhead, as is true of all trout in waterways that are also used by steelhead, but these monster redbands will remain year round residents.

Speaking of monster redbands, the public launch site on the Williamson River near Chiloquin was another stop on our tour.  I learned that it is mistakenly called the county park launch.  The land is actually owned by ODFW, the county does some extremely minimal management of the area.

The steep, dirt boat launch is degrading and the Klamath Tribes are objecting to its continued operation.  The Oregon State Marine Board is in discussions to improve the ramp and parking.  The preliminary plans look good and include significantly upgraded toilets.  Selfishly, I’ve always liked the nasty ramp as it may help discourage use, but faced the with choice of more competition on the river or a closed ramp, I’ll take a little more competition.