The key to the Williamson River’s giant trout lies in the hypereutrophic shallows of Klamath Lake where wild rainbows can grow to 20 inches in three years. As the lake warms, these rainbow trout migrate into the cold flowing tributaries, the most notable of which is the Williamson River. A river of many moods, the Williamson requires the visiting angler to utilize every trick in the book and the rewards are worth it with many fish exceeding 20 inches and fish upwards of 10 pounds possible.
To best fish this remarkable system we have paired with a favorite guide, Paul McDonald. Paul is a Kiwi who guides winters at Poronui Lodge on New Zealand’s North Island and guides in Southern Oregon the rest of the year. He is top level predator, a great all around guide, upbeat and a true pleasure to be around.
The Williamson River has the distinction of being one of the West's most prolific trophy rainbow trout fisheries. The majority of the rainbow trout in the system are migratory and move up into the river as Klamath Lake warms. The lake itself only averages 14 feet deep and is outrageously rich in food, leading to some of the fastest growth rates for trout in the nation. The majority of the trout in the river are rainbows but there are two basic strains. The first is a native redband which has evolved to withstand warm water temperatures, and the second is a landlocked Klamath River steelhead. Brown trout are also present in small numbers but can reach incredible sizes. Typically, the trout on the Williamson River run large with three to six pound rainbows being caught most days as well as some fish upwards of 10 pounds being landed each season.
On the lower section of the river, most of the fly fishing is done from boats, while on the upper reach of the river, no fishing from the boat is allowed. Techniques vary from spring creek style dry fly fishing and nymphing to swinging small streamers and nymphs on slow sinking and intermediate lines. The fishing in this upper stretch is wade only, so guests will stalk their quarry with a bit of stealth while making a good cast and presentation to consistently catch these monster rainbow trout.
The Williamson is not a river suited for beginners or first timers.