Donor Profile: Kesley Gallagher


By Kesley Gallagher
CalTrout Member and Donor since the 1990s


Cover Photo:Kesley Gallagher


I am a fly-fisher and have been since I was ten years old.  As I was growing up, my father fly-fished the Shenandoah River Valley in Virginia and its creeks for native brook trout, where a six-inch fish was a trophy.  I fell in love with the idea of fly-fishing and learned to fly fish by studying Dad’s books by Lefty Kreh and practicing on my own. 

When I was ten, my step-father actually taught me how to cast in Glacier National Park, Montana. That’s where I caught my first cutthroat trout on a size 14 Royal Humpy.  Years later, I can still vividly recall that moment and how I did it.  

Some of my favorite memories of trout fishing in California were taking my father on a fly-fishing tour of the Kings River and its tributaries.  We caught a lot of fish on dry flies, including a 17-inch brown trout I landed on an Irresistible Adams. My dad was impressed by its size and attributed it to the health of the river.  My grandfather taught my dad not only to fly fish, but to always appreciate and conserve wilderness, and he passed that on to me.

  Photo: Kesley Gallagher

Photo: Kesley Gallagher with a steelhead by Tom April

Fast forward to 2020 when I took my boyfriend, Scott Leon, on a trek in the Golden Trout Wilderness.  Scott is a marlin and tuna fly angler but wanted to catch golden trout that weekend.  It took us the better part of a day, but he finally managed to catch his first golden.  The look of awe and admiration was the same as the one I saw on my father’s face when he landed rainbows on the Kings River.

The moments when I can show someone why I love California and her watersheds and share where my passion stems from are priceless.  I have since taken Scott steelheading on the Trinity River and when he landed his first steelhead, I saw that look again.  Scott now looks at a map of California much differently!   


I joined Cal Trout in the 1990’s because I fervently believe in preserving the native salmonids of California. 

I moved to California in 1994 and discovered the Eastern and Western Sierras and became instantly entranced by the watershed and the species it supportedMy father, I believe, was also a member.  

What impresses me the most about CalTrout is its holistic approach to every situation in the state. 

The thorough work of their scientists is impressive as is their ability to advocate and coordinate efforts with the local, state, and federal governments and other agencies. 

The ability to push forward over years shows incredible amounts of grit and tenacity as well as vast reserves of optimism! To have a vision and follow through with a plan despite the miles of red tape involved in coordinating all the various groups and agencies involved shows tremendous leadership and is quite impressive. 

To have a vision and follow through with a plan despite the miles of red tape involved in coordinating all the various groups and agencies involved shows tremendous leadership and is quite impressive. 

Photo: Kesley Gallagher



CalTrout has been an advocate for California’s salmonids for 50 years and has been successful, most recently, in gaining agreement in late 2020 to take down four dams on the Klamath to restore a historic salmon fishery. 

This was a very impressive achievement to me based on the number of agencies that were able to reach an agreement to remove these dams.   

Being a member of CalTrout clarifies and cements my commitment to California’s native salmonids and the restoration of critical watersheds.   



Thank you Kesley for supporting CalTrout! Join Kesley and become a member of CalTrout today!


About Kesley

Kesley Gallagher has been fly fishing since she was ten years old.  She has traveled throughout the US, Canada, the Caribbean, Central America and the Pacific in search of everything from trout to tarpon and billfish on fly.  She has obtained 13 IGFA records on fly thus far and enjoys competing in tournaments such as the Ladies Tarpon Fly Tournament in Islamorada, Florida, which she won in 2018.  In 2019, she toured the Fly Fishers International (FFI) affiliated Southern California clubs and presented “Introduction to Flats Fishing” focusing on tactics and skills for taking redfish, bonefish, permit, and tarpon on fly.  In February 2021, she will be presenting “From Novice to Champion” in a national FFI webinar.  She also teaches fly fishing for women every fall with the Southern Sierra Fly Fishers in Kernville, CA, and has been featured in numerous fishing magazines.  Kesley currently serves on the California Trout Southern California Advisory Committee, is a Simms Pro, a Rio Ambassador, and works for Amgen in Thousand Oaks, CA. 

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