Fishing the Wood River

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The Wood River is, without a doubt, one of the most picturesque rivers in Southern Oregon.

Popular with kayakers, hikers, and fishermen alike, this spring-fed stream offers serene fishing for feisty brown and rainbow trout.

The river is located in the Klamath Basin, and meanders a short 18 miles from its headwaters to Agency Lake.

The Wood River is one of the most popular rivers in the area with fly fishermen who prefer to fish from the bank – other great options nearby, like the Williamson River and Upper Klamath Lake, are best fished from a boat.

The Wood River is one of Southern Oregon’s premier trout waters, and it’s a river you can’t miss.

When to Fish the Wood River

One advantage of fishing the Wood River over streams like the nearby Sprague and Sycan rivers is that it’s a spring-fed river.

This means that river flows and temperatures are generally consistent throughout the year, so the Wood fishes better in the heat of summer than most rivers do.

The river is generally open between late April and October (although regulations may vary year-to-year, so keep an eye on them) and fishes well in that entire time frame.

Mayfly, caddis, and midge hatches make up the majority of the insect life on the river, and these occur in the early summer and fall.

Migratory redband trout from Agency Lake (connected by a channel to Upper Klamath Lake) are a prime target for anglers during the early fall, until the river closes at the end of October.

These native rainbow trout can be very large, and sometimes rival the size of those found in the nearby Williamson River.

Meanwhile, fishing for brown trout is productive from when the river opens in the spring to when it closes in the fall.

Note that there currently is a modest harvest allowed for the non-native brown trout caught on the Wood, but the rainbows must be released unharmed.

Only artificial flies and lures may be used here, as is the case with the majority of this area’s trout-fishing streams.

Brown Trout Fishing on the Wood River

Brown trout are voracious feeders and like large flies that look like small fish. Oregon's Wood River has excellent fly fishing for brown trout.
Photo by USFWS Mountain-Prairie/Creative Commons, licensed under CC BY 2.0

Brown trout are the predominant resident fish on the Wood River, and if you’re fishing the river during the spring or summer, these are likely the fish that you’re targeting.

Browns are present throughout the entire Wood River system, and larger fish tend to hang out on the lower river, near where it enters agency lake.

Fly fishing for brown trout is the most common way to target them here, and fly fishermen work streamers and terrestrial patterns along the undercut banks of the river to catch big trout.

If you aren’t fly fishing, working spinners and small spoons along the undercut banks and eddies is generally productive; however, you’ll want some waders, as you’ll probably be doing a lot of walking and wading along the river.

Brown trout in the Wood River are well-distributed throughout the entire 18 miles of water, and you can be sure that no matter where you are on the river, you’ve got a good chance of hooking into a brown.

The browns in the Wood generally range from 10 to 16 inches long, but plenty of fish over 25 inches are available – they’re just harder to catch.

Rainbow Trout Fishing on the Wood River

Redband trout, the high-desert variety of rainbow trout common in Central and Southern Oregon, migrate from Agency Lake to the lower Wood River during the fall months.

The river closes after October to protect spawning trout, but these big redbands are a popular target for fly fishermen from late August through the end of October.

The lower portion of the Wood River is best fished by boat, as it’s wider and very tough to fish from the bank. Redband trout up to 5 pounds and over are not uncommon.

Most fly fishermen target these large redband trout with streamers, while conventional fishermen opt for spinners. Either approach works well, and this can be a very fun fishery during the early fall months.

Location and Access

The Wood River in southern Oregon is one of the state's best fly fishing rivers for brown trout.

The Wood River begins in the Sun Pass State Forest, flowing through the town of Fort Klamath before reaching Agency Lake.

Because it’s such a short river, there aren’t tons of access points and different stretches; figuring out the Wood River is fairly simple.

Bank fishermen generally stick to the upper river and target brown trout, and the Wood River Day Use Area is the most popular spot to fish from.

There is fairly easy wading both up and down from the day use area, and you could spend the whole day here if you wanted to.

Some locals prefer to access the Wood River at various intersections and lesser-known access points in and around the town of Fort Klamath.

A quick look at Google Maps should be able to point you in the right direction, as there are some good access points near the town.

The lower river, though it does hold browns, is more widely known for its migratory redband trout that enter the river in the fall.

Bank access on this lower portion of the river is tricky and very limited, as most of the river flows through private property, making this stretch much more popular with boat or raft anglers.

The Wood River is one of the few productive spring-fed rivers in the state of Oregon, and it can offer fishing for some of the biggest redband and brown trout on the West Coast!

Give it a shot – you won’t be disappointed.

Find more fishing spots in Klamath County

Oregon Resources

ODFW trout stocking schedule
ODFW weekly recreation report and regulation updates
ODFW annual fishing regulations
National Weather Service forecasts

Carter Reschke is a freelance writer based in Bend, Oregon. Passionate about the outdoors, Carter is a fly fishing aficionado and spends his days on the river when he’s not writing.

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