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Fishing Reports

Upsondowns

Joel La Follette - Thursday, November 15, 2018

Being able to take advantage of angling opportunities when they present themselves is important if you want to maximize your time on the water, especially with the changing weather patterns of fall. Wind and rain, or lack of it, can dictate where you find your best chance of success. You might have to travel, but somewhere out there the fishing is good.

Having the best shop guys in the business allows me some flexibility when the chance comes to wet a line outside of my normal territory and I have been known to take off at a moment's notice. A simple "Don't burn the place down" over my shoulder while walking out the door is pretty much the only direction the A-team needs from me. Such is the case this past weekend when the chance came up to fish the Klamath in Northern California with my friend, Jason.

Some of you may know my buddy Jason from his film "A River Between Us" about the water wars on the Klamath River. The Klamath runs in Jason's blood and his love for the river stems from his family history on this fabled stream. His passion for the wild Steelhead that call the river home is contagious and I never miss the chance to spend a few days at Upsondowns, drifting the river and swinging flies with my adopted brother.

Upsondowns is the Atkinson family retreat on the Klamath, a twisty drive south of the Oregon border. On the outside, the place reflects the local history, but lacks the local character of rusty cars and cast off washing machines. This is a place where generations have gathered to celebrate family holidays and summer vacations. It is a place that transforms each year from a family retreat to Steelhead camp when the cooler weather of fall draws the wild fish home.



Inside Upsondowns you will find a warm, welcoming fishing lodge atmosphere where both wet dogs and waders dry off by the fire. Decades of history adorn the walls in an eclectic collection of art, taxidermy and family photos. An old-school rotary phone hanging on the wall is your only connection to the outside world, and that's just fine. Time slows at Upsondowns and peace echoes from the walls and rafters.

While comparatively diminutive in size, Klamath Steelhead are game fighters and crush a well-swung fly. Buggy patterns are the rule, but the fish seem to take almost anything offered. Classics like Silver Hiltons or new-age Klamath Intruders produce grabs when presented to willing fish. Dry lines are productive, but sink-tips help during a sunny day when fish hold in deeper water. Lighter Micro-Spey rods in 4 and 5 weight are perfect on the Klamath and seem designed for this stream.

Over the years, I've caught Steelhead all up and down the west coast, but the Klamath fish are unusual in their shape and coloration. They seem to carry their weight in their shoulders and look much like bulked up bodybuilders wrapped in a silver cape. Some fish are heavily marked with spots while others sport a blinding mirror-like finish. On the grab, one never knows if a "half-pounder" or "adult" will come to hand as they smash the fly with the aggressiveness found in wild native fish. Wild fish that will soon find their home waters to flow cooler and cleaner as three dams are scheduled to come down in the near future.

Hopefully, I'll get the chance to see that day and fish in a river reborn. My bags are packed.


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