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Northern California Fly Fishing Guides Pre-Season Preview

The General Trout Season opens this Saturday, April 29th!

This weekend will be your first opportunity to sample the McBob lands a Trophy 'bow & enters ShastaTrout Hawg of Fame 3/09Cloud, Hat Creek and Fall Rivers this season, while the Upper Sacramento, Lower Sac, Klamath and Pit Rivers remain open.  As you are likely aware we have experienced a very high water winter, so your options for the opener and early season will be limited.  After being cooped up all winter I think we are all anxious for warm weather and  some invigorating days on the river chasing trout.

These high water years are when local knowledge really comes into play. Familiarity with the best highwater spots on the river that fish well is key to avoiding wasted time searching for fishable water.  Spring is also when our best and biggest hatches of the year peak and understaing the hatches and their timing rather than trying to decode them during your visit can be essential to success.  With the cold, wet weather we’ve experienced expect hatches to be well behind schedule this spring. If you are planning a trip, consider hiring a guide for perhaps a day or two to help get dialed in.

The National Weather Service is forecasting sunshine (yippee!) this weekend in the Northstate, with daytime temps in the high 60’s in the mountains and low 80’s in the valley which should make for very pleasant days on the water after a very wet winter.  With an exceptionally heavy snowpack (still 10′ at the ski resort) plan on high water well into May and perhaps even early June.

Our year round trout rivers including the Upper Sacramento, Klamath, Lower Sac and Pit Rivers have been very high and off color. Flows on the Upper Sac have cleared and come down significantly and if you can find productive water, it has fished fair to good.  The Klamath River and Lower Sacramento remain high and off color.  In addition the trout and steelhead are in the midst of their spawn and should be left alone to replenish their own.  Anglers and guides who are targeting spawning fish with egg patterns deserve to be shunned by the angling community as it is unsporting and unethical.

The McCloud River will be fishable at these flows, (currently 1322 cfs, 300 is ideal) but it will be a very long walk indeed between productive runs.  In addition, the roads into Ash Camp and Ah Di Na washed out this winter and the Forest Service is in the process of repairing them.  This is the latest statement from the Mt. Shasta Forest Service I received yesterday, “We will try to do a temporary fix this week to get the road at least open with a more permanent fix next week (unless the government is shut down for budget reasons).  The rain and some equipment breakdowns have created delays. We may need to have the road closed for a day next week to replace the culverts.”

Fall River and Hat Creek which are spring creeks, are effected much less by high flows and are in fair shape,  though with most other rivers being unfishable, plan on even larger crowds than usual for the opener. Water on the Pit River is exceptionally high and dirty and access roads have been washed out.  It might be quite a while before the Pit comes in shape, check back in a month or two.  You might also consider a day or two on Lake Siskiyou, which has had some decent trout fishing along with incredible views of snow capped Mt Shasta.  If you are headed to the shadow of Shasta, please drop me a line to schedule a trip or to just chat and check on the latest conditions!

Upper Sacramento River

Upper SacramentoFishing Conditions

Flows are high but clear making the Upper Sac fishable, but local knowledge is key to targeting the most productive water.  Plan on nymphing the bulk of your day but look for hatches and dry fly opportunities midday.  Spring is when we have the biggest and best hatches of the season, including Green Drakes, Brown Drakes and of course Goldenstones and Salmonflies.

I’ve been on the river a few days in recent weeks and am finding fish podded up.  My strategy is to cover as much water as possible until I find fish, then I slow down and fish through a run systematically.  Hatches are very sparse and dry fly fishing has been spotty as a result.

There are  spawning Wild Rainbows this time of year. If you site fish in tailouts or riffs, especially in groups or pairs, enjoy the show but please avoid spooking or fishing to them as they are exceptionally vulnerable and we need them to reproduce for upcoming seasons.

McCloud River

Reopens Saturday, April 29th.

Will Johnson "high sticking" with the new Sage European System Nymphing (ESN) RodFishing Conditions

I could not be more bummed about the opener on the McCloud this season. Flows on the Upper McCloud above the reservoir are well above the seasonal norm and the river is unfishable.  Flows below McCloud Reservoir have been exceptionally high and do not appear to be dropping anytime soon.  Parking and walking the trails to find fishable water in these conditions turns out to be a long hike interrupted by a few casts rather than a fishing trip.

The good news is that fishing in late June, July and through summer when flows drop should be good as fish with be undisturbed this spring and hatches will be delayed.  Stay tuned.

Lower Sacramento River

Becky with her Shasta Trout "Hawg of Fame" trophy Lower Sac Rainbow Fishing Conditions

Flows have been exceptionally high (30,000 cfs) the water is off color (2′ of vis) and fishing is very marginal.  Some folks have been out and touting the fishing, but truth be told most have been targeting the trophy Rainbows primarily with egg patterns as hatches have been very sparse.  These fish are trying to spawn and this type of behavior, which has been increasing over the years, needs to be shunned by the angling community.  At a minimum this activity is unsporting and unethical.  I have lobbied for a seasonal closure on this river to protect these fish for decades to no avail (enough said).  I am planning to return to fishing for trophy Rainbows on this gem when flows drop and hatches develop, hopefully later in May when peak spawning has concluded.

Hat Creek

Reopens Saturday, April 29th.

Hat CreekFishing Conditions

The Hat is in fair condition and should be one of the few fishable waters for the opener.  This weekend on Hat Creek will be a community affair, plan on a circus at the Powerhouse 2 riffle for the opener. Hat Creek, being low gradient with spring creek conditions does not receive the runoff other local streams experience. In high water years it is one of the few rivers that fish consistently well early.  Hat Creek will likely see even more pressure this season and spring hatches are the reason. The fish have enjoyed a break from angling pressure and the larger bugs that hatch in spring make it easier on the angler, particularly those of us with aging eyes. Weather has been cold and wet so expect hatches to be delayed.

The attraction here is the big bugs of spring, Salmonflies, Goldenstones, Green Drakes, Flavs, and Mahoganies but your most likely top water action will come on PMD’s and spring caddis. Nymphing the fast riffles can provide some relief from the crowds and is generally more productive than prospecting with dries during nonhatch periods. Try high sticking with stones and small beadhead droppers. For dries, Parachute and Paradun PMD’s and BWO’s, emergers and cripples #14-18, plan on changing flies often for rising fish than can be selective. For caddis try an EC Caddis or Mercer’s Missing Link #14-18, consider adding a pupa as a dropper. Not a bad idea to have a few ants and beetles tucked in the box just in case.

I hope this report helps you plan your early season trout trip, if you are looking for a guide,  I still have some availability.  I have spent as many days on the rivers I guide as nearly anyone and many more than most. I believe this intimate knowledge enhances your experience not only during your trip but for seasons after.  Drop me a line so I might help make your time on the water as productive and pleasurable as possible.

Winter Steelhead Fishing: several weeks remain, get here soon!

UntitledMarch 6

I just completed the longest period in recent memory without wetting a line, nearly a month.   Local river conditions have been extremely high and off color, not conducive to boating or fishing what so ever.  I had to cancel all guided trips during the month of February as a result. Flows on the Klamath River, typically one of the last to blow out and first to come back into shape, just returned to fishable levels last Friday and I am excited to get back on the Klamath over the next month to wrap up the winter steelhead season.  I do have a few remaining openings if you are anxious to feel the electricity of a steelhead on the end of your line, just give me a ring.

UntitledUntitledSpeaking of the electricity of a steelhead on the line, before the Klamath dropped last week, I took the opportunity to join my good friend (and fellow guide) Brandon Worthington (Worthington Flyfishing) who is guiding on the Oregon Coast.  The river was surprisingly low and exceptionally clear, not the conditions we typically wish for on the coast.  Brandon assured me that he has done well in these conditions and he was correct, I enjoyed the best coastal fishing I have ever experienced, particularly considering there were very few other anglers around.  In two days I hooked a dozen fish, though I only landed three.  All of the fish were of the highest quality imaginable, bright and hot with a few going well into the double digits in weight, (check additional photos on the ShastaTrout Flickr site).  On the drive back I stopped to fish the Umpqua with friend James Sampsel who has guided for a number of outfitters but recently opened his own guide service Humble Heron featuring southern Oregon rivers. The Umpqua and Rogue have also just recently dropped into shape and should fish well for another month or so.  Both Brandon and James have some upcoming dates available, I would encourage you to drop a line if you (like me) need to get your steelhead fix before the season ends.

Holiday Gift Special & Shasta Area Fishing Report

‘Tis the Season of Thanks

I am writing to give thanks for helping me to live the dream life, guiding fly fishing in Mt. Shasta California, one of the most beautiful places on the planet, and traveling the world fly fishing. As a small token of my appreciation I am offering a holiday special.  Gift certificates can be purchased for a 10% discount.  I hope this might be the perfect gift this holiday for you, a family member or fly fishing friend.

Guide rates for 2017 will remain at $495 per guide per day, so this holiday special means a savings of $50.  This offer includes any available dates in 2017 for walk and wade trips on the McCloud, or Upper Sacramento, or Steelhead Spey & Switchrod driftboat trips on the Klamath River.

Purchase one day or several days, schedule your dates now for prime time on your favorite river, or at your leisure anytime in 2017!  This special discount ends December 31st so drop me a line or simply use the Pay Pal link below to charge a gift on your credit card.

Plan Your 2017 Fly Fishing Travel Adventures Now!
In 2016 I joined my good friends at Flywater Travel as a commissioned agent selling worldwide fly fishing travel adventures, while continuing to personally guide trips on the Upper Sac, McCloud and Klamath Rivers.

North Umpqua dry fly henGroups of Shasta Trout guests utilized my expertise and Flywater Travels’ extensive network to travel to several destinations this past year, including Fishing Bear Lodge in Alaska,  The Middle Fork of the Salmon in Idaho, the Speywater Lodge on the Grande Ronde, Morrison’s Lodge on the Rogue, the Steelhead Lodge on the Rogue, Indian Creek Lodge on the Trinity, as well as my hosted trips on the North Umpqua in Oregon, Deschutes River in Oregon, Scott River Lodge on the Klamath, Nass Basecamp and the Skeena River Lodge in BC, Oregon Coast, Owyhee River in Idaho, and Harrison’s Homestead in Montana to name just a few.

IMG_2237Now is the time to plan a fishing adventure and secure a prime date for 2017.  If I don’t have the answers someone at Flywater Travel has been there and does. In addition, I will be hosting a few trips to select destinations every season, so if you are interested or just care to chat, please drop me a line.


DSCN0361Shasta Area Fishing Report.

December 2, 2016 

This fall has been unseasonably wet, much different than recent years (16.45″ vs. 1.86″ of precip last year) but river conditions have fallen back into shape quickly after storms.  Flows on the Klamath continue to be low and clear and the past few weeks we’ve seen an influx of fresh, big, bright winter fish, following one of the poorest fall runs in history.  Some guests enjoyed the first double digit steelhead day of the season this past weekend.

Fishing on the Upper Sac has moved to a winter pattern with the middle of the day fishing fair to good with mornings and evenings being slow at best.  The good news is that there are still some October Caddis about on sunny days and this is the time of year we find our largest specimens, trophy Rainbows running into the teens and a few breaking the magical 20 inch mark.

I still have a few guide dates available after the holidays, so drop me a line to join the action!

10% Off
Gift Certificates

Holiday Gift Certificates 10% discount.  Guide rates for 2017 remain at $495 so this is a $50 savings.  Offer includes available guide dates in 2017 for walk and wade trips on the McCloud or Upper Sacramento or Steelhed Spey and Switch rod driftboat adventures on the Klamath River.

Holiday Gift Certificate $445

This special offer ends December 31st, 2016.  Drop  a line at

(530) 926-5763


Or use the convenient Pay Pal button to charge your credit card.
Please mention this promotion during booking.


Summertime fly fishing in the shadow of Shasta

28575961462_000526ca80_kAugust 6th

The Blackberries are ripe, the weather is perfect (no local fires), the trout are fat and feisty and solitude is easy to find.  Fall is just a few weeks away, and we are enjoying some exceptionally fine weather after a hot spell, enabling us to wade wet on our local freestones, the McCloud, the Upper Sac, and some local creeks. As is typical of summer, this is not the time of year we expect epic days catching loads of big fish.  It is the time of year we enjoy the simple pleasures of fly fishing, the solitude of casting dries on scenic creeks to native fish, nymphing pockets for hot rainbows and perhaps even a streamside nap.  With flows at their lowest we can chose a water type and technique to suit our mood, whether it is high sticking pockets, fishing a dry dropper through a classic run, or casting tiny dries to selective evening risers.

28626726896_3ea30cd3b4_m28397601920_4ccd8ef7e4_mAs is typical in summer, fishing has been best early and late in the day when the sun is off the water.   Evening hatches have been compressed, sometimes lasting an hour or more but seldom longer, mostly small to tiny mayflies and caddis with a few lingering yellow sallies.  Nymphing, as well as fishing dry fly attractors with droppers, has been effective before the hatch as well as earlier in the day.

The Upper Sacramento River is low and clear and fishing exceptionally well with dry flies and droppers finding good numbers of small fish, while nymphing fast water pockets has found some of the larger specimens in the river.  For those who know where and how to “high stick” the fishing has been exceptional at times.  The bite has been best on Black Fly Larva imitations, small to tiny caddis and mayflies, and October Caddis case patterns.  The evening hatch has been superb but is compressed into the last hour of light.

28397593940_7e4a6b46ae_mThe spring crowds on the McCloud have dissipated and guests enjoyed some great fishing in the past weeks fishing dries and droppers as well as nymphing.  The action has been nearly non stop but most of the fish have been small, with a few fish in the teens mixed in during the day.  Unfortunately Mud Creek recently started spilling silt and water clarity dropped to a foot or two but has started to clear.  As this event has a habit of varying greatly from season to season be sure to check conditions before heading to the McCloud.

I hope to see you soon, drop us a line if you are headed our way, I am always happy to share all I can whether you are seeking guide service or not.

Annual Umpqua Steelhead Pilgrimage

IMGP2226July 15-24

20160718_063451Every summer for several seasons, Craig and Jerri have enjoyed a tradition of friends and family joining them for an annual pilgrimage to the Umpqua River to search for summer run Steelhead.  The Umpqua has one of the few remaining runs of wild summer fish in the lower 48 states that supports angling.  The fish are also surface oriented and getting one to tip up from a deep emerald pool for a skated fly can be one of the most magical moments in our sport.  The Umpqua is steeped in tradition and is famous in the lore of the sport so for us sharing this tradition with those we love is what it really is all about.  We enjoy telling some fish tales about our success or lack of it during cocktail hour, a breakfast at the Steamboat Inn or one of our evening potluck BBQ’s, perhaps the highlight of which was a whole lamb roasted Argentinian style on a cross over an open fire this season.

20160717_17090120160717_181757This year a couple dozen folks joined us for the week, most of which took the opportunity to fish.  Some folks new to the river, as well as a couple not so new, opted to fish with some great local guides who we heartily recommend, Rich Zellman and Tony Wratney.  A big thank you to Nana & Papa, Ed & Melinda, Tim & Judy, Greg & Larry, Jim, Gui, Tim, Brandon, Brian, Joel, Dave, Zach, Tony, Avery, Mike, Steve, and Ray for helping to make this year one of the most memorable visits ever. A great trip for family and friends who don’t fish as well, some folks took hikes, biked, swam, camped, ate, drank, and slept under the stars.

Walking on waterGui's HenGui's CuttFishing conditions were challenging as the weather was hot after a little rain, one of those times when “we should have been there the weekend before.”   Despite the lack of action most folks stuck to searching with dry flies and floating lines. Over the week perhaps a dozen or so steelhead were caught and released with Ed and Zach at the head of the class with three fish to hand each.  Look for reports on hosted trips to the Grande Ronde in October (still some openings, call)  and the Skeena (sold out) in late September or early October.  For more photos of this trip check out the Umpqua Selects album.

Fly Fishing Superb on McCloud and Upper Sac

IMGP2538June 28th

Conditions could not be much better on the McCloud and Upper Sacramento Rivers and the fishing has been superb!  Flows on the Upper Sac are low and clear while some glacial melt has made it’s way into the McCloud helping to disguise anglers approach and create conditions that are much less technical than we saw earlier in the season.

GaryUSac'bowNymphing has IMGP2526produced best early in the day with dry fly fishing becoming productive once the sun goes off the water.  A few Stoneflies are still about though fish are not as keyed IMGP2503on them as they were the past few weeks.  Several species of Mayflies and Caddis are out in force and fish have been taking them all.  The weather forecast for Mount Shasta is calling for ideal weather with daytime temps in the 80’s so if you are looking to escape the heat I recommend making the pilgrimage to enjoy some splendid fishing.  I do have a few openings in the coming weeks so drop me a line if you are seeking one of the finest local guides.

Guide Report: Dry Fly Time on the Upper Sac & McCloud Rivers!

IMGP2478IMGP2496June 5: It’s Dry Fly Time!

If you are like me and fishing dry flies to eager trout on freestones releases your juices and makes you feel like a 12 year old again, consider this your invitation to get here now!  This weekend the dry fly fishing on the Upper Sacramento and McCloud Rivers turned on.  Yesterday afternoon guests fished a couple runs (among others) that I know intimately as they are only a few minutes from my front door and I have to admit I had no clue that they harbored so many large fish (that rose to eat dry flies!).


IMGP2472IMG_2165IMGP2490The feast features Goldenstones, a few Salmonflies, half a dozen species of Mayflies from large to small, and a couple different Caddis along with some Sallies.  We have been fishing dry flies with droppers and had nearly nonstop action from early morning until dark.  It doesn’t get much better.