Copyright 2017 James Marsh
Fly Fishing the Williamson River, Oregon:
The Williamson River is about a 100 miles long river
that together with its major tributary, the Sprague
River, provides more than half of the flow into Upper
Klamath Lake, Oregon's largest freshwater lake. Fly
fishing the Williamson River puts you in the same
water as large wild rainbow trout that move into the
river to spawn and to escape the warm summer water
of Upper Klamath Lake. Smaller numbers of brown
trout also thrive in the Williamson, especially below
Spring Creek. Smaller rainbow trout and brook trout
are present above Klamath Marsh.
Much of the land along the river is privately owned so
public access is limited. There are some areas of
public access pointed out in the fishing guide below.
The Williamson originates from a large spring on the
north side of Fuego Mountain in the Winema National
Forest. It flows through the mountains and then
through Klamath Marsh in the Klamath Marsh
National Wildlife Refuge. U. S. Route #97 flows
roughly parallel to the river downstream of the
refuge. It picks up Spring Creek at Collier Memorial
State Park. The Sprague River joins it before flowing
into the norther end of Upper Kamath Lake.
The Williamson River is a slow flowing river and stays
much cooler than the shallow Klamath and Agency
Lakes. Fish move into the river as the lakes warm
adding to the already large population of resident
Fishing the lower river is mostly all done from drift
boats and pontoon type rafts. Most wading is done in
the upper sections of the river.
The spring fed Williamson River is known for its huge
Redband rainbow trout. Fly fishing the Williamson
River can be a true trophy fishing trip. There are
plenty of large resident brown trout that also grow to
This stream has an abundant amount of aquatic
insects, including a big population of Black Drakes.
Mayflies, caddisflies and terrestrial insects are
There's a combination of clear water and huge, wary
trout in the Williamson River and therefore, a
reputation as a difficult and technical stream to fish.
Your presentations need to be near perfect and you
must stay hidden from the trout. Perfect Flies will
help you fool the wary trout because they are
simi-realistic and according to our many Williamson
River customers, out produce all other trout flies.
Williamson River Oregon
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Photo Courtesy Steven Lamb
Recommended Tackle & Gear
4, 5 or 6 weight
Dry fly: 9 ft., 5 or 6X Nymphing: 71/2 ft.,
3 or 4X, Streamers 0-2X
Dry fly: 5 or 6X, Nymphing: 3 or 4X,
Best Fly Rods:
Perfect Fly Supreme Four, Superb Five
or Ultimate Six
For 4/5/6 fly line
Fly Floatants and Misc Items:
Floatants, KISS Strike Indicators
Tools & Accessories:
Nippers, forceps, retractors, etc.
Summertime is the best time for fly
fishing the Williamson River.
Early Fall is good for the brown trout
which spawn in the Fall as well as the
big migratory Redband rainbows..
Williamson River Fly Fishing Guide:
The Williamson River is one of the best of
the Klamath Basin rivers. The spring fed
river has a very high pH that keeps the
stream full of aquatic insects and other
trout foods and the trout big. Giant
rainbows are common in the Williamson
River. Eighteen to twenty inch native
Redband Rainbow are common. It is truly
a trophy trout river.
The Williamson River is a slow moving,
slick flowing, calm river. As the shallow
lakes warm, the fish move into the
Williamson River, increasing the resident
Most all the trout fishing is done from drift
boats and rafts. Fishing on the lower river
is almost exclusively done from boats. You
can wade parts of the upper section. Of
course, you can also float and wade the
The Upper Williamson River is one of the
finest spring creeks in Oregon. The land
surrounding the river is mostly all private
and mostly controlled by private ranches.
The river winds back and forth,
meandering through a series of oxbows.
Undercut banks provide the most cover
for the fish. There are both wild rainbows
and brook trout.
Williamson River Hatches and
Our information on aquatic insects is
based on our stream samples of larvae
and nymphs, not guess work. We base fly
suggestions on imitating the most plentiful
and most available insects and other
foods at the particular time you are
fishing. Unlike the generic fly shop trout
flies, we have specific imitations of all the
insects in the Deschutes River and in all
stages of life that are applicable to fishing.
If you want to fish better, more realistic
trout flies, have a much higher degree of
success, give us a call. We not only will
help you with selections, you will learn
why, after trying Perfect Flies, 92% of the
thousands of our customers will use
nothing else. 1-800-594-4726.
Blue-winged Olives hatch in March and
April and September and October. There
are several species including Baetis. This
hatch is always best on cloudy, overcast
and rainy days.
Pale Morning Dun mayflies represent the
largest population of mayflies. The hatch
in May, June and July. June is the best
month for the PMD hatches. Look for
morning spinner falls and hatches.
Pale Evening Duns are also plentiful but
not as much as the PMDs. These mayflies
live in the faster water and hatch from
May through June.
Gray Drakes are in several areas of the
Williamson River. They live in the soft
bottom most of the year and hatch in June.
This isn't a big hatch but can be important
if you happen to catch it right.
You will see the large Great Olive Wing
Duns (Hexigenia species) hatching in July.
These mayflies bring up some big trout.
The spinner fall is the highlight of the
hatch and it occurs near dark but trout
can be taken on the nymphs, emergers
and duns as well.
Casting skill and stealth are critically
important in most situations. The best
approach to fishing the Williamson is by
floating it in a boat or canoe.
Conflicting currents make getting a
drag-free drift difficult, yet you must
accomplish that. The trout are use to
seeing plenty of aquatic insects and
unnatural drifts will spook them.
Staying hidden is also a big problem
and tougher when your fishing from a
boat. You have to stay low in the boat
and make longer cast than normal. That
doubles the complexity of getting a
good drift. Your fly must drift at the
same speed as the current. This
includes subsurface and surface
Matching the hatch, if one is occurring,
is very important. Matching what's most
plentiful and available for the trout to
eat at other times is just as important.
Often, streamers that imitate baitfish
and sculpin work best. They also tend
to produce the larger size trout. The
key is being able to change strategies,
techniques and tactic with the changing
Tricos hatch during late July and
August. These little mayflies hatch in
huge numbers and of course, are tough
to imitate well. Done right, however,
they can produce some good catches.
The highlight of the Trico hatch is the
There are several species of caddisflies
and they represent some of the best
hatches. There are several species of
net-spinning caddis called Spotted
Sedges and some Little Sister Caddis.
They range in hook size from a 16 to a
There are also some Black Dancers
that hatch in August but only in certain
areas. Green Sedges hatch in June but
trout can be taken on their larva (rock
worms) anytime of the season.
Scuds are also plentiful and represent a
large part of the trout's diet. Imitations
work during the entire season.
Sculpin and baitfish are plentiful and
streamers that imitate them often
produce the largest fish. Fish them
anytime you have low light situations
like early morning, late afternoons and
cloudy, rainy days.
Terrestrials are very plentiful on the
banks of the Williamson River. Imitations
of Carpenter ants, beetles, mostly
Japanese Beetles, and grass hoppers
work best in July,August and
sometimes, early September.
The season is last Saturday of April through
The Spring season starts off with good
|Options For Selecting Flies:
1. Email us (firstname.lastname@example.org)
with the dates you will be fishing this
stream and we will send you a list of our
fly suggestions. Please allow up to 24
hours for a response.
2. Call us 800-594-4726 and we will help
you decide which flies you need.
3. Email us (email@example.com)
with a budget for flies and we will select
them to match the budget and get them to
you in time for your fly fishing trip.
All orders are shipped free in the
U. S. Orders over $50 are shipped via
Headlines: The river is still flowing
at a very high levels. There is rain
or snow in the forecast for the next
week, so we are not sure when this
may occur. You will just have to
continue to check the levels. Fish
Cream or Red midges, little
Blue-winged olives, and streamers.
The Black or Olive Matuka sculpin
should work good. Fish the midges
with the larva and pupa rigged in
tandem. Be sure to click the above
link to the fishing report for more
information on stream levels,
weather and recommended flies.
Map of Williamson River
10/17/15 Great conditions continue for the Williamson. There were some nice size brown trout
caught by our customers this past week. October Caddis are at the peak of their hatch and
trout are taking the egg layers of the surface. . We have taken samples of the aquatic insects
and other foods, developed hatch charts and base suggestions on facts, not the results of trial
10/24/15 Conditions remain very good with slightly cooler weather and a chance of rain just
about every day. The rain is needed and will only help the fishing opportunity. October Caddis
are hatching in big numbers and bringing trout to the surface to feed on the egg layers. Blue-
winged olive are hatching in two species and sizes and will only get better as the days go by.
10/31/15 The Williamson is in very good shape at this time of the year. There is a chance of
showers every day for the next week. That should bring about some prolific Blue-winged Olive
hatches. Scuds are still working good. Our Brown Sculpin fly is really working on the aggressive
brown trout that are getting ready to spawn.
12/05/15 It is never too early to start planning your next fly fishing trip to the Williamson River.
Give us a call or send us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we will be happy to help
you. We have taken samples of the aquatic insects using professional entomology equipment
and know what is in the river.
03/05/16 Matching the hatch is often necessary for much success. Even though the season is
closed, let us know when you want to fish the Williamson and let us help you plan your next fly
fishing trip. We don't go by trial and error. We have taken samples of the aquatic insects using
professional entomology equipment several times and other foods and know what you should
imitate and when you should do it.
04/14/16 Counting down to one. There is one more week left in the off-season before you can
fish the Williamson River. Please keep in mind, that we are the only company in the World with
specific imitations of all the important aquatic insects in all stages of life applicable to trout
fishing. This isn't exactly and easy stream to fish. Matching the hatch is by far the best
procedure. Matching "what is about to hatch" is even more important.
04/21/16 One more day to go before the season opens. The season opens on May 22. Right
now, conditions look great and we expect anglers to get a good start from the first cast. Lots of
insects are hatching including Blue-winged olives, Pale Morning Duns, Pale Evening duns,
Gray Drakes, and midges.
04/28/16 The season opened this past week and anglers begin to catch trout the first hour of
the season. The Williamson was in good shape and still is. There are a lot of different insects
hatching and our customers reported catching some on the surface on dry flies as well as
nymphs. We set several people up with flies who will be fishing the next few weeks.
06/04/16 Customers fishing the Williamson last week reported that they are catching some nice
trout. There are a lot of hatches taking place including Pale Morning Duns just about every
section of the river. There are Spotted Sedges and Green sedges or caddisflies, almost
everywhere. The levels are a little below normal now but there is some rain in the forecast that
should help that.
06/11/16 The river is in very good shape and our customers are reporting some good catches.
Some are being taken on the dry fly. There are several different hatches taking place but
imitating the Gray drake spinner falls seem to be the one taking the most trout. Scuds, damsel
fly nymphs, dragon fly nymphs and of course, little BWO nymphs are taking their share of trout
06/18/16 Great conditions continue to exit on the Williamson. It is producing a lot of trout for a
stream that isn't a pushover. Customers are sending in some very good reports as to numbers
and sizes of trout caught. Lots of them are taking dry flies, mostly Spotted and Green sedge
egg laying adults, and Pale Morning and Pale Evening duns. Gray drake spinners continue to
06/25/16 The river continues to be in very good shape. We have set several customers up with
flies recently and all of them are sending in good reports. The stream does require good
presentations. It usually requires matching the hatch. When you do, you usually are rewarded
with some good fish. The weather is going to be hot, but the water will change little and
afternoon egg laying activity will be the main thing to key in on.
07/02/16 This spring creek is considered to be tough to fish when it really isn't. It does require
matching the hatch fairly close. The water is very clear and the trout get a good look at the fly.
Our Perfect Fly customers continue to have good success. There are a lot of insects hatching
right now, and stream and weather conditions are very good.
07/09/16 We continue to get good reports from the Williamson even though it isn't the easiest
stream to catch trout on. Don't forget that PMDs often have spinner falls in the early morning;
however, it has been the very late afternoons that our customers have been catching the most
trout. The caddisfly egg laying is producing a lot of fast action the last couple of hours of
07/16/16 The river is in very good shape with plenty of hatches taking place. Sculpin streamers
and Scuds are also working well. The Great Olive Wing Duns are starting to hatch. The are
huge mayflies. The spinner falls are the most important stage to imitate. Fish as late in the day
as you can for the best results. The egg laying caddis are also active at that time.
07/23/16 The river is in great shape considering the hot weather and low water conditions
across the state. Our customers sent to good reports this past week with good numbers and
one very large trout caught. It isn't a pushover, but using the right strategies, you can catch
plenty of trout from its cool, clear water.
08/06/16 This stream has never been an easy one to catch trout from, but with all the recent
heat, it has proven to be one of the best fly fishing destination choices you could make. We
received one good report this past week and again it included some very nice size trout. The
hatches continue to be good but don't miss the late afternoon spinner falls and egg laying
08/13/16 The river is in very good condition for the middle of August. It is a good choice of
destinations with the hot days we are having. The water stays cool and the trout hungry. There
are still plenty of insects hatching for the to eat but anglers are also doing good with imitations
of terrestrial insects such as Carpenter ants, Japanese beetles and grass hoppers.
08/20/16 The stream is up just a little and in great shape. Thanks to the cool spring water, it will
be a great choice this coming week. Our customers caught some nice trout this past week.
Some were taken on hoppers. Ants and beetles should also produce. There are lots of
caddisflies hatching. The egg laying is bringing a lot of trout to the surface to feed late in the
08/27/16 We have been getting some excellent reports from customers fishing this past week in
spite of the heat. The weather is going to be cooler this coming week making it more
comfortable to fish. It will affect the water temperature very little except in the lower section of
the river. Hatches slowed a little but there are still a lot of them taking place.
09/03/16 When everything in the state looks like it might dry up, the Williamson looks picture
perfect. The clear, cool spring water continues to flow with trout eager to eat provided you fool
them and don't spook them. They don't have any problem seeing your fly good and if your not
careful, seeing everything else you don't want them to see.
09/10/16 Conditions remain about the same as last week. There was no rain and none is in the
forecast but the stream levels are still fine. Our customers are catching lots of trout on
terrestrial imitations and by matching the hatch. I just noticed I had left Spotted sedge
caddisflies off the link list of flies. They are as important as anything. Sorry about that.
09/17/16 The river is consistently producing some nice trout for those who can match the hatch
well and stay hidden from the trout. It is a little easier at this time of the year thanks to
terrestrials. Hoppers, ants and beetles fished near the banks are catching trout. As usual,
Sculpin streamers fished in the early mornings will catch some of the larger trout.
09/23/16 The upper and lower sections of the Williamson River are in good shape. The spring
water is a big plus at this time of the year. There are several insects hatching including Triocs,
Mahogany duns, Blue-winged olives (some baetis species) and spotted sedge caddis. The
weather is cooler making little difference in the spring water but a of difference to anglers
fishing. Terrestrials are still working as well.
10/01/16 The river is in good shape with lots of trout being caught by those using the right
strategies and flies. There are still plenty of hatches taking place. There is rain in the forecast
everyday for the coming week and the weather is going to be much cooler. The cloud cover
should really help catch trout, especially streamers and BWO hatches.
10/08/16 The conditions are very good with lots of trout being caught by our customers this
past week. The cloudy skies and rain helped to keep the water slightly stained in places and
the trout less spooky. This also helps the Blue-winged olive and Mahogany dun hatches.
Terrestrials are still working as well. It is a very good time to fish the river.
10/22/16 We received some of the best fishing reports we have ever received this past week.
The rains keep the skies cloudy and that must have really helped. The Williamson was one of a
few choice places to fish the last past. It should continue to be very good this coming week.
10/29/16 The stream levels are in good shape and the water clear. There are some big Blue-
winged Olive hatches taking place. The cloud cover really helps by increasing the BWO
hatches and making the trout a lot less spooky. The Brown sculpin streamers are catching most
of the larger fish. It is a very good time to fish the Williamson.
11/05/16 The Williamson is in very good shape for the first of November. The stream levels are
normal and the water at the right temperature for the trout to be feeding heavily. Scuds and
damselfly nymphs have been working good as well as cream midge larvae and pupae and Blue-
winged olive nymphs. Hatches of BWOs are taking place from about 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm.
11/12/16 The conditions remain very good for fly fishing the Williamson but the weather pattern
will soon be changing. There is snow forecast for the end of the next week. Right now the trout
are feeding on the surface on Blue-winged olive and midge hatches as well as eating scuds,
sowbugs, damselfly and dragon fly nymphs and other crustaceans. It s a good time to fish the
river, just don't wait until it does get tough.
11/19/16 The river is in good shape. The heavy cloud cover not only helps conceal your
presence, it helps to produce some large Blue-winged olive hatches. Cream and Red Midges
are also hatching good. Sculpin streamers, like our Brown sculpin and Matuka Sculpin flies, are
catching some of the larger size trout. There is a chance of rain everyday and the ideal
conditions should continue for the coming week.
11/26/16 the weather is turning colder and there's more rain and lots of snow. By the way, blue-
winged olives and midges both will hatch during light snows as long as the air temperature is
not too cold. The water temperature holds up good thanks to the underground spring water.
Blue-winged Olives and midges will be the only insects hatching.
12/03/16 The stream levels are running a little below normal but that is okay and shouldn't
affect the fishing. The water temperature is in the high thirties and low forties in most sections.
Midges and Winter stoneflies are hatching. Midges are both cream and red or blood midges.
Fish the pupa and lava in tandem for the best results.
12/10/16 There is snow in the forecast everyday for the coming week. The streams are running
a little low with water in the high thirties. Blue-winged olives, midges and Winter stoneflies are
hatching. By the way, I'm ask all the time but yes, Blue-winged olives will hatch in light snows.
Winter stoneflies are often called snow flies. Midges will also hatch during light snows.
12/17/16 The river is a little high and cold, or colder than it normally is. There is a lot of snow
on the banks that is melting and cooing the water down some. Midges, Reds or blood midges,
and Creams are the most plentiful hatches. There are some Winter stoneflies starting to hatch
as well. There is some snow forecast for the coming week but much less than the past week.
12/24/16 The weather and water has gotten much colder. The average water temperature is
only about 36 degrees. The warmer water is near the springs and colder water downstream.
Midges are hatching good, mostly Creams and Reds or blood midges. Fish them with the larva
and pupa in tandem with the pupa about 16 inches above the pupa.
12/31/16 The weather and water is going to be much colder this coming week. The high
temperature during the day won't exceed the freezing mark, so the water is likely to remain cold
all week. Midges, creams and reds, with the larva and pupa fished in tandem will catch trout.
Place the pupa fly about 16 inches above the larva. Scuds and sowbugs will work. There are
some winter stoneflies as well.
01/07/17 It will be snowing everyday but much warmer than last week. We still didn't receive any
reports from anyone fishing this past week. I assume it was due to the cold weather. The water
temperature is down some but warm enough to catch trout on midges. The Blood or red midges
are the most plentiful ones. Fish the larva and pupa in tandem.
01/14/17 The river is in good shape for mid January. The levels are up to just a little above
normal and the water stained lightly where snow is melting. There is rain forecast everyday this
coming week. Fish the Brown and Black Matuka Sculpin streamers when it is raining or cloudy.
Fish the Cream and Red midge larva and pupa in tandem. You may see midge clusters on the
surface Fish the adult pattern if you do.
01/21/17 The river is in good shape with good stream levels. We had one good report this past
week from a customers that used scuds. There are little Blue-winged olives hatching and lots of
midges. Midges are the red blood midges, Creams and Light greens. Fish the larva and pupa
imitations in tandem for the best results. There are a few Winter stoneflies hatching. Fish the
WSF nymphs late in the day.
01/28/17 It is going to be clear for the next five days for a change. The weather will be just a
little warmer. It looks like a good time to fish the river. Hatches are mostly Midges. Light greens
are beginning to show up along with the Blood midges, or reds, and the Cream midges. Fish
the larva and pupa in tandem with the pupa the top fly. You can do this under a strike indicator.
02/04/17 The stream levels are fine and the water clear. There is rain or snow in the forecast
everyday for the next week. A little stain wouldn't hurt. You can do good fishing streamers like
or Black or Olive matuka sculpin during heavy cloud cover. Midges are the main insects to
imitate. Fish the larva and pupa in tandem for the best results. You can do this under a strike
02/11/17 The stream levels are very high and the water highly stained. It is falling but will take a
while to get down low enough to fish. Start out with streamers like the Black or Olive Matuka
sculpin, when the water gets lower. When it get down near wadable level, fish midges, Creams
and Reds, with the larva and pupa rigged in tandem.
Note: The Williamson isn't exactly
an easy stream to fish. The trout
get a good look at your fly. That's
why Perfect Fly customers come
back time after time for their flies.