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Finding the fish by knowing the river
Quality water: Waterways, anglers in Klamath among best in nationBLY — The Klamath Basin is home to some of the best fly fishing in the world.
Private and commercial fishing ranches in the area have been featured on the cover of numerous fishing magazines, but without the proper context that may not mean much.“Regular fishing is mostly about sitting there and waiting for a tug on the line,” Greg Bulkley, past president of the Klamath Country Fly Casters, said. “Fly fishing is hunting, especially dry fly fishing.”
Fitting for the Klamath Basin, where many of the most popular activities are of the physical variety, that fly fishing requires continuous activity.Anglers know the trout are sitting just out of sight below the surface of the water, but it is the effort of some to tie their own flies, the knowledge of the water and the constant location changes up and down the banks that make fly fishing an action sport. “The whole time, I am engaged actively,” Bulkley said. “I have a short attention span and get bored easily. It’s being in the outdoors. It’s more contemporary. There is a lot to reading the water — knowing where they would be and where they wouldn’t be.”
One thing that makes the Basin an exclusive fishing hole is an evolved species of fish native to the area, the redband trout.“We have these unique trout that have adapted to the high desert,” Bulkley said. “They were once sea-run rainbows, which is a steelhead. When the Cascades came up, the fish got cut off and adapted. They are rainbows, but they are special rainbows.”
It is the redbands, in particular, people from around the country and the world find especially captivating.Even Bulkley, who has owned his property, The Black Drake Ranch, for eight years, takes pleasure from the typical catch-and-release methods he implements.
“That is a very special thing that just happened for me,” Bulkley said after pulling an eight-inch redband from the spring-fed stream that cuts through his ranch. “It’s not always about the size of the fish.“You have to do three things right to catch a fish: You have to fool them into taking it, you have to hook them and you have to land them. If they are bigger, it’s a lot harder to land them.”
There are days, especially during various insect hatches, where it isn’t uncommon to land fish after fish — even ones as large as 25-26 inches in length.“Most people who have been fishing all their lives in the East have not caught a fish over 12 or 14 inches,” Bulkley said. People pay $300-$400 for just one day and one rod and nothing else included (to fish for ones that size).”
But in the Basin, hitting any one of the many lakes, rivers or streams can land a fish that big. It is the challenge of learning the craft of fly fishing that keeps it interesting.“There is a saying that goes: ‘You will get better and better at fly fishing, but you never master it,’ ” Bulkley said.
Finding the light: Greg Bulkley casts over the Williamson river on the Yamsi Ranch which is world famous for the high quality fly fishing territory.
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Page Updated: Wednesday November 06, 2013 11:01 PM Pacific
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