The fish species of Klamath River in Oregon

Klamath River flows from Klamath Lake in southern Oregon, eventually reaching the ocean in California. Along the way it passes through several hydro-electric dams, equipped with fish ladders as mandated by law. This means that the portion of the river found in Oregon holds a number of fish species from both the lake, and from the ocean.

Klamath Roach

Locally, the roach is often called a chub. These fish are silvery, with large scales, and they can put up a good fight when caught. They are bony fish and usually considered to be trash fish, though they are also quite prolific and inhabit most of Klamath River in Oregon.

Bluegill and pumpkin seed

These warm-water fish are found primarily in the upper reaches of the river, where the water tends to warm up the most. They are flattened from side to side, have spines on the dorsal fin, and are quite colorful. Though they are seldom large, they are tenacious when it comes to catching them, and the flesh is tasty, normally in the form of small fillets.

Small mouth and large mouth bass

Both large and small mouth bass can be found in the river, though again, mostly above J.C. Boyle Dam. They also have spines on the dorsal fins and the coloration is banded light yellow and green, occasionally prominently. Equipped with a mouth that opens wide, they are highly predatory and will readily eat smaller fish. Weights of several pounds aren’t uncommon for bass caught in the river.

Yellow perch

The appearance of the perch is much like that of bass, though the bodies tend to be more streamlined. As the name implies, they are often paler than bass, and they are also usually smaller when full grown. This species also has spines in the dorsal fin. Like bass, they are good eating, usually in the form of fillets.

Yellow, brown and black bullhead catfish

Bullheads are found mostly in the upper waters, but can sometimes be found downstream. These fish have large mouths in relation to their size, barbels or ‘whiskers’, and spines in the dorsal and pectoral fins capable of inflicting a painful wound. They are fish that will scavenge, but will also eat fresh food when they can. The average size in this river is about nine inches, though much larger specimens have been caught. The fillets are good tasting and the fish tend to yield much larger fillets than bluegill.

Rainbow, brook and brown trout

There are trout above J.C. Boyle dam, however there are large numbers of them below the dam. They are usually colorful, hit a hook hard, put up a great fight and the meat is very flavorful. Trout don’t have spines in the fins, and they love cold oxygenated water. They are also prized by fishermen, and can grow to several pounds in size, in the river.

Salmon and steelhead

Salmon and steelhead aren’t the same thing, though they have many of the same traits. Steelhead are actually the same species as rainbow trout. However, they live part of their lives in the ocean, unlike rainbows. They can at times become quite large, as can salmon, with a 30 pound fish being medium sized. Those weighing 10 pounds are common during the spring and fall spawning runs, mostly in the lower reaches of the river. Like trout, they have no spines.

Freshwater sculpin

This strange little fish looks like it is mostly head, probably because it is. It doesn’t grow large, has many spines in its fins, and eats whatever is available.

These are only some of the fish of Klamath River, Oregon. However, they are the most plentiful. This is one reason this river is an attraction, especially for fishermen. Klamath River supports a diversity of fish and wildlife, some of them fairly unique to the area.