Northern California’s Premier Fly Fishing Guide Service

Northern California fishing guide Craig Nielsen presents switchrod program, Two Hands @ Touvelle: A Spey Gathering on the Rogue River

Will Johnson rolling out a two handed castTwo Hands at Touvelle

Touvelle Park, Rogue River

Saturday, September 20th, 9am-3pm

Join Shasta Trout owner and Northern California fly fishing guide Craig Nielsen this Saturday at Touvelle Park on the Rogue River, just outside Medford, Oregon as he presents a program on Switch Rods at the “Two Hands @ Touvelle” Spey Gathering hosted by Gary Anderson, owner of Gary Anderson Custom Rods.

Gary AndersonOther presenters include:

Whitney Gould-four time casting champion at Spey-O-Rama
Lee Davidson – Snake River Outfitters
John Hazel – Northwest Spey Casting Pioneer
Jon Hazlett – Steelhead Fly Fishing Guide
Mike McCune – A Real Skagit Master

Demonstrations & Factory Reps include:

Gary Anderson -  Anderson Custom Rods
Bruce S. Berry – Beulah Rods, Hatch Reels
Steve Godshall – Fly Line Guru, Rod Designer
Eric Johnson – Sage Rods, Rio Lines, Redington
Dennis P. Lee – Steelhead and Salmon Fly Tier
R. B. “Bob” Meiser – Meiser Fly Rods
Eric Neufeld -  Simms Representative
Donna O’Sullivan -  LTS Flyfishing
Garry Sandstrom -  Hardy/Greys Representatives
Joe Saracione -  Saracione Manufacturing Co.
Will Johnson- The Ashland Fly Shop

Conditions on the Rogue are excellent and many anglers take the opportunity to sample the Rogue’s steelhead before and after the event!  The program begins at 9am and concludes at 3pm, it is free and open to the public, lunch will be served.  Touvelle Park does charge a $5 fee for parking.

Fly Fishing Guide Reports: the McCloud, Upper & Lower Sac, Pit, Fall Rivers & Hat Creek

IMGP1846Northern California fly fishing report, September 15, 2014

The weather has been spectacular and we have been enjoying the final days of summer wet wading our local freestones to nymph and cast dry flies and droppers to fat feisty trout, taking a break to gorge on juicy blackberries, and chasing the hatches on Fall River and Hat Creek while anxiously awaiting our favorite color which is Fall.  Flows on local rivers are low but cooled from springs and fishing in the shadow of Shasta has been much better than the remainder of the state suffering from drought.  The leaves are just beginning to show a hint of color in Mount Shasta and the earliest runs of salmon and steelhead on their epic journey to the Klamath, Trinity and Lower Sacramento Rivers are just arriving. Reports of large numbers of fish downstream have us anxiously anticipating a stellar steelhead season. We hope you are able to get away to join us soon to sample the seasons as they unfold.

IMGP1739IMGP1852IMGP1853The Upper Sacramento River has been fishing well top to bottom with a higher percentage of large fish in the lower and middle river but higher numbers of fish upstream.  Early in the day when both air and water temps are cool we have had success nymphing mostly with small and tiny flies.  Later in the day we have switched to dry flies with droppers with satisfying results.  LBT’s (little black things) have been the most productive as fish fill up on black midge larva this time of year but some hatches of small mayflies as well as a few caddis get eaten as well.  We even encountered a sparse hatch of Green Drakes recently which got some fish looking up at our #12 Parachute dry we were using to present small beadhead droppers in some pocket water, runs and riffs.  This is typically a spring hatch so was a very welcome surprise!

IMGP1709IMGP1712IMGP1728Flows on the Upper Sac are as low and clear as we’ve seen them, 157 cfs at Delta,  which makes wading and fishing pocket water as easy as it gets.  Flows out of the bottom of Lake Siskiyou dam and are supplemented by cold springs so upsteam water is cold year round.  Below Simms the hottest days of summer can raise the water temp but currently temps are peaking comfortably in the upper fifties and lower sixties and we expect they will only get lower with the coming of cooler weather this week.  A few October Caddis have popped with the bulk of this hatch scheduled to go off after the first hard frost.  Stay tuned!

IMGP1843The Lower McCloud has had some silting issues of late with the river fluctuating between clear with great fishing and unfishable.  Today the clarity was around two feet, you could not see your feet if you waded above your knees.  The norm when we see these events is for the river to take days or weeks to clear but remain clear rather than fluctuating so much, best to drop us a line to check on conditions before making the drive into the McCloud River canyon.

When the river has cleared our best success has been with small flies hung below droppers and nymphing the bigger water with small mayfly, midge and caddis patterns.  Current conditions are still fishable, though challenging to get around.  The fish are much less wary with the low clarity so large bright indicators, heavier tippets and larger flies do not spook fish making it easier to hook fish (particularly larger ones) for less experienced anglers.  Streamer specialists hope for this kind of bonanza which gives them a chance to target the larger fish, including some sizable Browns though catch rates can be signifcantly reduced.  Flows at Ah Di Na are at 200 cfs which is ideal to access all of the stream crossings and pocket water.

The Upper McCloud is also very low and ultra clear making fish quite vulnerable to catch and keep anglers.  A few fish can still be found in some tucked away places if you search them with a dry or dry dropper, but overall fishing has been fair or poor.

The Pit River continues to fish well for adventurous willing souls.  We have done best nymphing with fish taking a variety of bugs.  We have had success with rubberlegs as well as small and tiny standard beadhead nymph patterns hung below them.  Fishing has been a bit on and off during the day, slow for a run or two but when you find a run when the grab is on it can make your day.  Flows are at the new norm except for this weekend when they will be ramped up to 1200 CFS for one of the annual whitewater weekends.

The fishing on Fall River continues to hold up well with few folks around.   Sparse hatches and fussy fish have made nymphing and swinging the most productive methods.  A few Tricos have shown on the upper river and some Callibaetis in the lower river have brought some heads to the surface but it is 7X season which means getting them to eat is not always the end of your challenges.  Fishing, particularly with dry flies will likely improve with cooling temps and increased mayfly activity over the coming weeks.

IMGP1745IMGP1746The Lower Sacramento River has been fishing fair to good with the fishing improving over the past few weeks as temperatures have moderated from the hundred plus we had a few weeks ago.  Even cooler temps this week will hopefully spark the bite even more.  Fish are podded so searching efficiently and skipping unproductive water to find the pods is key.  Most fish have come on small and tiny mayfly nymphs with a few caddis mixed in.  The bite has been soft, fish are sipping the bugs like a martini rather than guzzling them like a beer.  This can be very frustrating as the fish will often offer a handshake and nothing more, no kiss, dance or picture.  Those with keen eyes and quick hook sets fair a bit better than those of us who enjoyed our athletic prowess decades ago. As salmon move in and drop eggs the bite will become easier and the biggest fish in the river move from their lairs into vulnerable lies downstream from spawning salmon. Flows dropped to 6,000 cfs on September 11th (8,000 is the norm) with no scheduled releases at this time.

One of our guides enjoyed an evening hatch of Tricos on Hat Creek last week where fishing has only been fair otherwise.  As temps cool and fall hatches get started we will be looking for fish to get more active.

Now is the time to plan a trip on the Klamath or Trinity for fall steelhead fishing.  We have guides that swing flies with two handed rods as well as guides who nymph along with those who feature both.  Fall is our busiest season so we recommend you schedule early for the best availability.   We hope to see you soon, drop us a line if you are headed our way, we are always happy to share all we can whether you are seeking guide service or not.

“The “Magical McCloud” presentation at San Jose Fly Casters by Craig Nielsen

William enters the ShastaTrout Hawg of Fame with a McCloud River trophyBrown TroutFly Fishing the McCloud River

San Jose Fly Casters, Wednesday, September 10th @ 6:30

McCloudPatrick McCloud Redband 10/07Craig Nielsen, owner of Shasta Trout fly fishing guide service, will be presenting a program on fly fishing the McCloud River called “The Magic of the McCloud” at a meeting of the San Jose Fly Casters, Wednesday, September 10th @ 6:30 at the The Moreland Apartments Community Meeting Room, 4366 Payne Ave, San Jose, right on the corner of Payne & Saratoga.  The presentation features proven techniques and tactics for nymphing with indicators, high stick nymphing, dry fly fishing, as well as swinging streamers for wild Rainbows and trophy Browns.

Craig and the great local guides who work with us at Shasta Trout spend more time guiding the public water on the McCloud River than anyone.  Discussing this intimate knowledge with a group of fun and seasoned anglers who willingly share their experiences makes for an informative and fun evening.  We are looking forward to hosting a club outing with these great folks in the near future and put to practice what we learn.  We hope you will join us as well!

Craig Nielsen presents “Fly Fishing the Fall River” @ Diablo Valley Fly Fishers

Jeremy with Fall River HawgSeptember 9th, 2014

Craig Nielsen, owner of Shasta Trout and a fly fishing guide based in Mt. Shasta, will be presenting a program called “Fly Fishing Fall River,” at the monthly meeting of the Diablo Valley Fly Fishermen at 7 pm on Tuesday, September 9th at the Heather Farms Community Center, 301 N. San Carlos Drive, Walnut Creek, CA. Doors open at 6:30.

“Fly Fishing Fall River,” is a multimedia presentation surveying successful techniques, tactics and tips refined by local guides who have fished the river for decades.  The “Fall River” program is designed for novice and seasoned anglers alike with concepts offered in a light spirited and informative manner. Audience participation is encouraged and expected. Craig uses humor and down to earth descriptions to demystify successful strategies and tactics that will both increase angler’s catch as well as their enjoyment of the sport of fly fishing. It promises to be a fun and informative evening, we hope you will attend if you are in the area.

Shasta Trout has donated a free trip for the club to auction at their annual fundraiser. Contact us is if your group or club is looking for a speaker, we have multiple presentations available.

Update: Fires & Fly Fishing in Shasta/Burney & Southern Oregon

Dry fly time on the Upper Sacramento RiverAugust 7, 2014

The worst of the smoke has cleared in the past two days in the Shasta, Fall River and Burney areas and fishing continues to be fair to good on most local streams with the exception of Hat Creek being closed.  In fact on Tuesday, a guest enjoyed perhaps the best evening of dry fly fishing local guide Craig Nielsen has seen on the Upper Sacramento River all season.

A colorful Upper Sacramento River dry fly summertime RainbowBlue skies have returned and air quality has improved to ten miles or more of visibility in the Mt. Shasta, Fall River, Yreka and Southern Oregon areas with conditions perhaps a bit worse in the Hat Creek and Burney area.  A Ranger at the Hat Creek station described blue skies and visibilities to all the surrounding mountains this afternoon.

Reports from guides on Fall and Pit Rivers is that fishing continues to be good, again with the exception of Hat Creek which is closed, silt in the McCloud reducing clarity to two feet, and Pit 5 which is suffering from 70 degree water temps, much too high to catch and release wild Rainbow Trout safely.  Highway 89 is currently closed southbound at the junction with 299 and Highway 299 is closed to nonresidents at Johnson Park.  Best to double check on lodging reservations in the Fall River/ Burney area before you leave home as the majority are in use by firefighters.

A link to current fire conditions can be found at: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/state/5/  Feel free to drop us a line for the latest fishing conditions if you are considering heading this way.

Fly Fishing the McCloud River remains cloudy

Carrie's McCloud RainbowAugust 7, 2014

Fly Fishing on the McCloud River remains cloudy as the river continues to suffer from an infusion of silt from Mud Creek. Folks have been calling so we thought we’d update you on conditions.

Turbid McCloud River Below Ash Camp ShastaTrout fly fishing guides have cancelled trips until conditions improve.  While the river is fishable, reports two days ago at Ash Camp were that water clarity remained at perhaps a foot and a half or two feet.   The gauging station near Lake Shasta is showing very low levels of siltation.  One good bit is that not much stealth is required and fishing pressure has been nonexistent.  While catch rates are typically low in these conditions, anglers get shots at some of the larger fish including this one a few seasons ago under similar conditions by Carrie, a guest on a trip with local guide Rick Cox.  Do stay tuned.  Feel free to drop us a line for the latest.

Umpqua & Rogue River Steelhead Fly Fishing Report

IMGP1699July 16-August 4th

For a few years now Craig and Jerri have enjoyed a tradition of friends and family joining them for a week of steelhead fishing on the Umpqua River in Oregon for Craig’s birthday. This year we celebrated Craig’s second 60th, which one friend noted makes him 120 years old (and he can still fish reasonably well!).  We enjoyed our best fishing (and catching) in recent memory and most every angler found a fish or more, including even Craig who managed to land a birthday fish.

IMGP1658photoIMGP1697The Umpqua is steeped in tradition and is famous in the lore of the sport so the camaraderie for us is what it really is about.  We most enjoyed telling some long fish tales about our success or lack of it during cocktail hour, a breakfast at the Steamboat Inn or one of our afternoon potluck BBQ’s.

photo 3A great trip for family and friends who don’t fish as well, some folks took hikes, biked, toured Crater Lake, swam, or whitewater rafted.  A few 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 Dan, Ed & Melinda, Joel, Tim & Judy, Gui, Rick, John and Tim for helping to make this year one of the most memorable visits ever.

Craig also joined a great local guide Carl Mogerly for a morning on the Rogue this week.  The steelhead seem to be arriving in good numbers this year as they hooked three fish in a morning session of swinging dry lines with their two handed rods.  We can’t wait to see what the Klamath brings us this season.  Early reports on the lower river have been encouraging.  Do stay tuned.