Jun 13th, 2019
Williamson River Fish Shack
The key to the Williamson River’s giant trout lies in the hyper-eutrophic 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 a top level predator, a great all around guide, upbeat and a true pleasure to be around. For anglers that don’t require anything fancy and enjoy long hours on the water, this two person program with modest riverside accommodations is a gem that we are confident you will enjoy.
For more information please contact Andy at 800.552.2729
Top reasons to go:
1. Private riverside accommodations on one of the west’s most unique trophy trout systems.
2. Angling for giant rainbow trout that are measured in pounds not inches.
3. Private access to upstream beats that offer walk and wade fishing with little pressure.
4. Easy access to several floats that cover the best water for trophy trout.
5. Private access to several other area walk and wade tributaries to the Klamath/Agency Lake complex.
Where is the lodge?
The “Fish Shack” is located on the banks of the Willamson river on the upstream end of the community of Chiloquin, OR.
How do I get there?
The closest commercial airport is in Medford, about 70 miles from the river. From the Rogue Valley Int’l airport guests can rent a car and drive to the riverside accommodations. Guests coming from the Pacific Northwest are welcome to arrive via their personal vehicles.
When should I go?
The season here is June – October. The early season success can be contingent on spring runoff, but by early July the river settles and the Hexegenia mayfly hatch gets going. By August the lake waters warm and more large rainbow trout migrate into the cool spring-fed river. By September the evenings start to cool and the river receives less pressure until it closes again at the end of October.
Where do they fish?
The cabin sits riverside and the drift boat can be put in here to motor up and downstream. There is no angling from the boat in this section, so angling while wading is mandatory. For those not interested in wading, about one mile below the cabin is the start of the boat angling section. The outfitter also has agreements with other landowners that allow him walk and wade access to several other tributaries to the Klamath/Agency Lake complex. These systems shall remain nameless.
Who is best suited to the destination?
Anglers with some experience will get the most out of this destination. The river is typically clear and presentations need to be good. The fish here are typically large and it may take a few fly changes and multiple presentations to get one to eat. Many times you will see where the fish are holding, especially in the upper portions of this river. The lower end offers more ledge structure and your guide will know where to put the boat to present your cast to these holding spots.
What are the accommodations and meals like?
The accommodations are best suited for two anglers. There is one bedroom with a queen sized bed, a loft with a twin bed and a pull out in the living space if you prefer to stay there. The bath is shared. While it is a simple cabin, it does offer a cozy feel and the deck overlooking the river is a great place to have an evening BBQ and sip on your favorite adult beverage. Meals are simple, but satisfying. Guests are asked to communicate any dietary concerns prior to arrival. Expect a breakfast of eggs, toast and sides, lunch will be served on the river or back at the cabin if you are close and is typically a hearty sandwich, chips and sides. Dinners will be mostly BBQ meats with side salads and such.
Describe the atmosphere and style of the lodge?
This is a rustic riverside cabin that will be yours to enjoy. It is a relaxed and quiet place and the riverside views off the deck make it quit peaceful.
Is the owner on-site? Who is the point person?
Paul McDonald will offer his guided services and cook your meals. He is a wonderful host and a full time guide splitting his outfitting between his homeland of New Zealand in our winter months and here in southern Oregon from April – November.
Is there internet and cell service?
There is no internet, but cell coverage is decent while on the river and at the cabin.
How do they fish?
The Williamson is a unique fishery that may have you fishing some unfamiliar ways. There are limited options for traditional dry fly fishing and most fish are taken on subsurface offerings of either nymphs or streamers. If you decide to venture to one of a few other local streams, the dry fly fishing potential increases and similar nymph and streamer tactics also take fish.
What fish will I catch?
Rainbow trout are the target on the Williamson and large fish are present. If you decide to venture out to one of several other systems, you may encounter some brown trout and increase your dry fly fishing opportunities.
How many fish will I catch?
The Williamson is a trophy trout river and thus not a numbers fishery. A few fish over 20 inches in the day is decent. If you prefer more action there are a few other local streams that can have you getting a few more fish to hand on a typical day.
Will we see other anglers?
Yes, you’re likely to see other anglers accessing the public water about a mile below the cabin. Upstream of that it’s less likely to see others as most of the land here is private.
Is there wade fishing?
Yes, all angling from about a mile below the cabin upstream is wade only. The water downstream of town, guests are free to fish out of the boat.
How long does it take to reach the fishing grounds?
You may launch the boat right out front or take a short drive of no more than 30 minutes to access other waters.
What are the guides like?
Paul McDonald is a full time fishing guide who is friendly, knowledgeable and fun to fish with. He has a keen sense for stalking trout, whether it’s in his homeland of New Zealand or the clear waters surrounding Klamath Lake. His skills are well matched for this venue.
Does the lodge provide equipment?
Rods and reels with the pertinent lines can be provided. All the flies and terminal tackle is as well. Guests will need to bring their own waders and boots.
What is your favorite rod(s) for the trip?
A fast action 6 weight is best for throwing streamers and nymphs on long leaders on the Williamson. Bringing along a 5 weight with a floating line is a great option for dry flies and the smaller streams in the area.
Are there other activities?
Crater Lake is certainly worth seeing and a short drive away. The Rogue Valley is close as well and adding some guided fishing for steelhead is worth your while. The Ashland, OR area has many wineries to tour and the Shakespeare festival is well known if you want to catch a play and a fabulous dinner at one of many fine restaurants.
What are the physical demands?
The trip is not demanding at all. There are some deep wades in the upper river, but the boat is always near. There may be some short hikes if you decide to see some of the other local streams.
Are there other special skills required?
Dangers and annoyances?
Early season can see some mosquitoes.
What is your favorite memory of this trip?
My first trip to the Williamson gave me a glimpse of its potential. While I was not very educated in techniques required to catch them at that time, I was able to hook and lose a few and seeing so many large rainbow trout in the river made a lasting impression.
Does this trip combine well with other trips?
Yes, adding guided fishing on the Rogue River is a great addition to the Williamson.