Bigfoot himself lives in Bonanza, Oregon, a tiny sun-soaked community that anchors the north extent of bucolic Langell Valley. Never heard of Bonanza? Well, it’s about 7 miles east of Dairy. Never heard of Dairy? OK, it’s about 10 miles northeast of Olene. Never heard of Olene? Or Malin? Or Beatty? You get the drift—this is remote country, appropriate for Bigfoot, who stands on the bank of the Lost River at the east end of town. Or rather, a 10-foot-tall redwood carving of the cryptozoological legend stands guard over the community, a gift to the local parks department from the local Metcalf family.
The Langell Valley in southeast Klamath County, land of cattle, horses, hay, and abundant wildlife, is also home to another kind of legendary megafauna: the massive rainbow trout that haunt the depths of 150-acre Pronghorn Lake at Pronghorn Lake Ranch, owned and operated by Mike and Diane Tyrholm. Mike oversees the day-to-day operation of this private fee fishery, where stocked rainbow trout reach gargantuan proportions—over 20 pounds. The fish, triploids, are carefully tended to by Mike, who closes the lake to fishing during the warm part of the summer when elevated water temperatures can stress the trout, and who supplements their diet with pellet food during the lean winter months.
All that hands-on management, coupled with a lake that can only be described as a fertile broth full of every kind of still- water fish food, leads to epic action for fly anglers. The trout range from 1 or 2 pounds up to salmon size, and even the smaller fish are exceptional: full of vigor and all too happy to put on an aerial show in an effort to spit the hook.
The rainbows grow fast and fat on a rich diet of scuds, Chironomids, leeches, aquatic beetles, damselfly and dragonfly nymphs (sometimes even damselfly adults), Callibaetis mayflies, and probably even the occasional perch, crappie, or bluegill fry. At 150 acres, Pronghorn Lake is hardly the typical pay-to-play hog pond. It offers ample room to spread out and explore a variety of locations, from shallow, weedy shoals on the east side (hint: some big largemouth bass haunt that area), to rocky drop-offs on the south and west edges, to the deep pool near the dam. Given the forage available to them, Pronghorn’s trout are not necessarily pushovers. At times they come fast and furious to the net, even for beginners; other times, you need to figure out what they want by experimenting with depth, fly pattern, and retrieve speed. It’s a wonderful fishery for both novices and veterans.
Clear sinking lines are popular but carry a second rod rigged with a floating line for those magical times when the fish crash the surface for water beetles, mayflies, midges, or other prey; and maybe even keep a third rod rigged and ready with a higher-density sinking line. Use fluorocarbon tippet—4X is about the lightest you’ll want to trust against the possibility of a 20-pound leviathan. Watercraft are needed, and Mike has rental prams available, but most guests bring their own small boats (the gravel launch accommodates trailers carrying drift boats and prams), float tubes, or pontoon boats. A trolling motor is handy for boats, but no part of the lake is out of reach for anglers propelled by oars or swim fins. Of considerable interest to many anglers, the adjacent lake, separated from the trout lake by a dike, is home not only to profuse congregations of waterfowl and shorebirds during migration season but also to largemouth bass up to 8 pounds with a penchant for surface bugs.
At HQ, an assemblage of convenient and cozy cabins provide lodging, with fire pits and chairs where you can stretch your legs, sit back with a good dram or cold beer, and gaze up at a darkening sky that is soon so densely packed with twinkling stars that it defies comprehension. Spring or fall, the winged denizens of these wetlands carry their cacophony into the night, coyotes exercise their vocal cords off in the distance amid the junipers, and great horned owls often join a chorus of frogs. So far, I’ve heard no reports of Sasquatch moseying through camp.
Pronghorn Lake Ranch is located just 14 miles southeast of Bonanza, and Tyrholm will provide driving directions when you book your trip.
The $200-per-day rate covers afternoon and evening fishing on the first day, overnight accommodations, and fishing until noon the next day. Group rates are available, and for anglers who prefer to stay in their own trailer or motor home, power hookups are available for a small fee. For more information and to book a stay in this remote and beautiful part of Oregon, visit www.pronghornlakeranch.com or call (541) 281-3030.