Northern California’s Premier Fly Fishing Guide Service

Update: Fires & Fly Fishing in Mt Shasta & Southern Oregon

Brandon's Hen_1August 21, 2015

It has been more hazy than smoky in Mount Shasta recently, with the wind blowing the smoke in from the nearby fires on some days and away from us on other days.  Visibility has remained above ten miles in Mt Shasta throughout and there have been no health warnings.  Ashland, Medford and Redding have not fared quite as well with some days of less than five miles of visibility, but both have been over ten miles the past week or so.  We only have one fire close to the area, on the north side of The Mountain, near the tiny community of  Tennant and it is very small at under 60 acres. A link to current fire conditions can be found at: 

Fishing has been fair to good with numerous inquiries and interest in flows, fires and water temps this year.  The amount of misinformation continues to baffle us.  Most all of our rivers are tailwaters and/or have base flows from springs so the only issues we have this year are ones that we experience every season at this time.  The lower section of the Upper Sacramento River can get into the upper sixties or even low seventies in the afternoon during hot spells and so we avoid it.  The same goes for the Pit River, in addition PG&E sent us notice that the Pit 5 whitewater releases will occur on the weekend of September 12-13, 2015.  Target flows for the Pit 5 Reach for September 12 and 13 will be 1,200 cfs.  Releases will be made from 10 AM to 4 PM on those dates and will be ramped down between the Saturday and Sunday.  Every season we have also closed our guiding on the Klamath River July 4th (or earlier) and opened again in September or early October when water temps drop enough to safely catch and release wild steelhead.  If you are fishing on your own and are in doubt, it is simple to check the water temps with an inexpensive thermometer.  If temps are in the upper sixties or lower seventies, we recommend finding another place to fish .

Brandon's Hen_with Pale Peril, a Dave McNeese patternBrandon's Hen_5The Rogue River just outside of Ashland and Medford has been the place to be on the west coast this season.  A good number of fish have arrived early, conditions are ideal with cold clear water and the catch rate has been exceptional as a result.  No need to wait until October to schedule your steelhead trip this year.  We have a few great local guides we feature who’s specialty is swinging with two handed rods.  If you are experienced you will appreciate their expertise, if you are not experienced they are great teachers who can get you started right.  Craig has taken a few trips to sample the fishing including a recent one with local guide Brandon Worthington and found a hot hen on a Pale Peril.

IMGP2212IMGP2202The Upper Sacramento River has been low and crystal clear all season and as a result the fish have seen it all.  There continues to be fair hatches early and late in the day with some heads popping up here and there but the fishing is tough and technical.  One sloppy cast and the whole pod typically goes down.  For this fishing we have brought out the long leaders and 6X tippet, tying on small caddis in the am, PED’s in the eve.  We have nymphed early and late in the day, fished some dry dropper rigs through pockets and fast water and found some fish but they have been mostly small.  There do not seem to be a large number of fish around this year in the lower and mid teens though we have managed to find more than our share in the upper teens and lower twenties.  Do avoid the lower river as discussed above, perhaps at Pollard Flat and below, during the heat of the day until air temps and water temps drop.

The Lower Sacramento River has been fishing quite well if you manage to find the right day.  On hot days (over 100) the bugs tend to be more active and as a result so are the fish. On cooler days the fishing is more enjoyable but the bite isn’t, well…quite as hot.  As we move into fall, the weather will cool overall with the result that bugs will still need to hatch, fish will need to feed and you can catch them in comfortable weather.  Much ballyhoo followed the reopening of the river between the Posse Ground and Highway 44 with some reporting amazing fishing  for big fish “because the fish were rested”.   While this was the case it was not as dramatic as many folks looking to fill guide dates made it out to be.   Many of these folks are the same ones who drift trout egg patterns through Rainbow spawning beds in the spring for the trophies that spawn in this section of the river and claim they are fishing “sucker spawn”.  We have lobbied for a spring closure on this prime section of spawning habitat for over a decade to protect the wild spawning Rainbows (our biggest competitor voiced opposition to this year’s closure), and fortunately this season some endangered spring Chinook caused the closure and protected at least the late spawning trout as well.

IMGP2244IMGP2249IMG_1897The McCloud has recently cleared from a silting event, and in the public water ,the clarity is a bit less than a foot and a half.  With water knee deep you can see the top of your foot but not the bottom, as a result wading is a challenge.  Some guide services have reported better clarity (two feet or more) but they have been fishing on private water downstream of public access or are offering up hearsay.  The bite has been good on small dark nymphs with no particular pattern working noticeably better than others.  With this clarity the river is much less technical as you can get very close to prime lies without spooking fish.  The seasoned angler who knows the river well will be at a disadvantage while the beginner or intermediate who is athletic in their wading skills will do nearly as well as the “expert” in these conditions.  We’ve been out with several beginners recently and they had exceptional days, landing a number of fish, mostly small as the bigger ones they could hook in these conditions still most often managed to get away.

The Fall River continues to fish consistently well.  Fishing nymphs (both dead drifting and swinging) and streamers have produced best as dry fly fishing has been spotty at most.  On many days you can have a run to yourself.  As always the fishing is technical with 6X and even 7X the rule.  As weather cools and hatches build the dry fly fishing should improve.

IMG_2602Lake Siskiyou continues to be a sleeper for smallmouth bass and a few trout.  The Hex hatch is done but the topwater action with small poppers and stripping buggers has been a hoot.  Great for the whole family, it is ideal for swimming and getting in your last trip of the summer.


Feel free to drop us a line for the latest fishing conditions if you are considering heading this way.

Annual Umpqua Pilgrimage

IMGP2216July 17-27

Photo courtesy of Ed and Malinda FeliceEvery 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 afternoon potluck BBQ’s.

Photo courtesy of Ed and Malinda FeliceCobra @ Steamboat InnThis year sixteen folks joined us for the week, nine 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, Dan, Ed & Melinda, Tim (hope you make it next year Judy), Jason & Chris, Dave & Judith, Greg & Nancy, Jim & Marna, Dave, and Gui, 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, toured Crater Lake, swam, camped, ate, drank, and slept under the stars.

IMGP2226Walking on waterGui's HenGui's CuttFishing conditions were challenging as like most other rivers in the west, the Umpqua is in drought.  It had been a long while since the flywater had seen fresh fish and so coaxing them to grab was difficult. Some stuck to searching with dry flies while most found success with sink tips.  Over the week about a dozen wild fish were caught and released.  I did manage to land my largest fish to date on a dry fly, a 31″ buck, after an epic battle that involved hanging up on rocks, not once but twice.  Tim was there to laugh at me the entire time and capture a few images on his IPhone.  What a treat to share with a longtime friend.  I hope to break my record on my first pilgrimage to the Skeena system this September with Dan, Jason, Dave and Greg.  Look for a Skeena Steelhead report in late September or early October.  For more photos of this season’s trip check out the Shasta Trout FlickR Umpqua 2015 album, for pics of previous trips check out the Umpqua Selects album.


Five Secrets to Summertime Fly Fishing Success

Scott poses his Shasta Trout Hawg of Fame dry fly McCloud River RainbowUpper Sacramento River summertime dry fly RainbowJuly 16, 2015

For many anglers, the summer heat, or the summer doldrums, often means few hatches and small fish. The prolific springtime hatches have come and gone. The rivers have become creeks, the water is crystal clear, the fish are spooky, and the most accessible runs have been fished over hard. By late summer, trout have seen it all, and running a big bright indicator through the run that produced in the middle of the day in the spring rarely produces. Summer flows might make fishing accessible and fun, but the catching can be downright challenging and technical.

Over the years we have discovered some strategies for approaching freestone rivers in the summer that helps to keep fishing fun, improves our success rates, and doesn’t require that we purchase new, expensive equipment or develop completely new skill sets. Quite the opposite in fact, most of these techniques return our fishing to the simple approach we loved as a kids.

Fish Fast Water

Fish suffering from the higher water temps of summer will seek out cool oxygenated water.  This most often means the heads of runs and fast moving riffles and pocket water will produce much better than the heart of the run that offered us so much action in spring.  Deep water can also provide thermal relief so nymphing or running streamers through these water types is most often productive when fish are not showing on the surface.

Take a Nap

Taking a nap during the least productive middle part of a long summer day not only adds to your enjoyment but leaves you fresh and rested for early morning starts and allows you to save a few casts until the very last light in the evening, when hatches are best and the fishing turns magical.

Take a Hike

Finding fish that have not been heavily pressured on public water is not as hard as you might imagine if you are willing to walk for them.  A half hour walk from access points is good, an hour or more is better.  We usually fish our way back to access points in the evening and make our way further from access points in the morning to save the longest part of hikes for the middle of the day.  Unpressured fish will be more willing to forgive small errors in presentation and imitation and are a joy to catch particularly on dry flies.   Summer is the ideal time to hike to out of the way spots on well known rivers or even better yet search out small creeks and wet wade while you cast small dries to eager trout.

Be Extra Stealthy

Frightened fish do not feed. When the water is low and clear and the fish have seen it all it is critical that we avoid spooking them prior to getting a fly in their feeding zone.  Try to avoid wearing bright colors, wade cautiously and fish turbulent, oxygenated or deep water to mask your presence.  This is a great time of year to take the indicator off and high stick your nymphs in the whitewater heads of runs, pocket water and deep pools.  In less turbulent water try presenting nymphs as droppers off a dry with a “Hopper, Copper, Dropper” rig.

Go Small

While it can be incredibly satisfying to get trout to grab your big Hopper dry, many more fish in summer are caught with small or tiny flies tied to light tippet.  If you prefer to fish a large dry, try adding nymph droppers on 5X and  6X tippet and you can still enjoy a few fish on the “Hopper” while your nymphs do the busy work.

For a more complete treatise on summer strategies, check out our article “Fishing Freestones to Beat the Heat” available on our website and first published in California Fly Fisher Magazine in August of 2006.

Fly fishing good & cooler weather has arrived!

Richard casting at MossbraeJuly 9th

There may be nothing better in fly fishing than casting a dry fly to rising trout on a summer evening with Mt. Shasta as a backdrop.  Base flows in the shadow of Shasta come from cold springs so we expect fishing to be fair to good throughout  the summer.  After the past couple of weeks of hot weather, temps have dropped, we’ve enjoyed evening showers and flows on local freestone rivers are at summer time lows with solid hatches of caddis and mayflies and lingering stones, as a result, dry fly fishing on the McCloud and Upper Sac have been great fun, particularly in the evenings.  The Hex hatches on the Fall River and Lake Siskiyou have been in full swing and nymphing on the Pit continues to produce some exceptional days.   The Stonefly hatch on the Klamath has concluded but we found a few steelies on the swing last week and are scheduling folks for peak fall steelheading starting in September.

IMGP1582The McCloud has been one of our top destinations with cold water and Flows at a season low, having reached summer levels weeks ago with nearly all crossing spots open and wading at it’s best.  Clarity has dropped from about five feet to two or three making approaches easier but wading a bit more challenging.  We’ve been taking advantage of the conditions with several guests, casting dry and droppers to the far bank and pockets all day, followed by excellent fishing to risers during the evening hatch of Pale Evening Duns, Flavineas along with a Rusty Spinner fall.  The  July 4th weekend crowd has passed, you can now expect some solitude, particularly on weekdays.

IMG_2528Greg USac 003Flows on the Upper Sacramento River  have been at summertime norms for several weeks.  Springs on the upper river keep water temps low so the entire river remains very wadable and fishable all summer long, though we recommend avoiding the lower river in the afternoon.  Local guides Craig Nielsen, Wayne Eng and Fred Gordon have hosted several guests and found nymphing during the early day continues to produce and the evening dry fly bite on Mayflies and lingering Stoneflies have been outstanding the last few weeks.  The fish are fat and happy as angling pressure has been noticeably light this season.  We have seen the typical influx of Shasta Lake Rainbows moving into the lower river.   These feisty, hot fish average 14-18″ and provide great sport, much like half pounder steelhead and we expect them to be showing up increasingly in our nets in the coming weeks.

Hexagenia Dun a large bite for trophy trout Tom Peppas, Scott Saiki and George Durand report several guests are enjoying the evening Hex hatch on the Fall River which is moving up from the confluence of the Fall and Tule Rivers. This hatch allows us to nymph and swing emergers prior to the hatch and cast enormous Mayfly dries at last light to target the biggest fish of the season on the surface. Combine this action with some nymphing and casting dries to a morning PMD hatch and it makes for a very fulfilling day.  In most seasons we see the hatch continue through July and the first few weeks of August.  We still have some guide dates available, drop us a line if you have not yet experienced this amazing seasonal event.

We have been finding good to great fishing nymphing on the Pit River as flows have dropped to the summer minimum.  Dry fly fishing in the evening was excellent but turned spotty the past week. Several guests have enjoyed outstanding days, catching chunky ‘bows who have not seen a great deal of pressure this season. The Pit River is one of the local rivers that has warm temperature issues in the summer.  We recommend taking water temps prior to fishing and choosing a different river when water temps move into the upper 60′s (which is typical in most summers and particularly this season) to avoid harming the native wild Pit River Rainbows.

IMGP2189 The Lower Sacramento River was been blazing hot, over 100 degrees almost everyday and over 110 on several days (in the shade!), so we cancelled or rescheduled most of our trips as a courtesy and concern for the safety of our guests.  With cooler temps this week  we expect to find some rested and hungry fish.  PMD’s  and Hydropysche Caddis have been popping but the unsettled weather makes for inconsistent results.  Cooler temps, stabilizing weather later this week, and steady flows should make the fishing as well as the catching more enjoyable in the coming weeks.

photo 5Local headwater creeks have also provided some excellent action casting small dry flies for eager trout.  This is a perfect venue for kids, those new to the sport, and folks who want to relax and enjoy consistent action and the visual joy of watching small trout dart from the stream bottom to intercept their flies.  For some it can’t get any better than this!

Klamath102105.03Scott River LodgeWe  have a few fall Steelhead dates available starting in September, including the last two remaining prime time dates at the incredible Scott River Lodge were you can expect to enjoy stunningly beautiful runs and solitude, a rare combination for steelheaders these days.  November 16-19th we have openings for up to 10 guests for three days and three nights of steelhead fishing on the Klamath at it’s finest.  Cost is $1595 per person double occupancy, two guests per guide.  If you have a group of six or more we will discount the trip to $1295.  We also have openings for our eighth annual Spey weekend November 19-23rd, three days and four nights of Spey immersion and steelhead fishing for anglers from beginner to expert.  Cost is $1795 per person double occupancy, two guests per guide, contact us for rates if you have a group that is interested.

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.

Fishing Guide Report: Upper & Lower Sac, McCloud, Pit, Klamath and Fall Rivers

McCloudMay 26, 2015

With low, clear, ideal flows we are experiencing fantastic fly fishing in Northern California on all of our trout fisheries.  The unstable weather and thundershowers have passed and the biggest hatches of the year are just days away and we only expect the fishing to get better.  All kinds of bugs are starting to show: Salmonflies, Goldenstones, Mayflies big and smallTayler, McCloud River, as well as multiple hatches of caddis and with perfect weather now in the forecast we expect this to only improve.   Wildflowers are in their full glory, with Dogwoods, Azaleas, Rhododenrons and Lilies lighting up the streamside vegetation.   We hope you can join us soon to wet a line, we feature the finest local guides in the north state and still have some availability.

Upper SacramentoIMGP1576The Upper Sacramento is fishing well from top to bottom with ideal flows and our biggest and best hatches on the way.  Goldenstones and Salmonflies have just begun to show and the fish have been looking up.  A mixed caddis and mayfly hatch in the evening has produced some solid if not spectacular fishing and with steady warmer weather in the forecast we expect to see this action build.  Traffic on the Upper Sac has been very light on most days as this fishery is very under appreciated.  All techniques have been offering up fish provided you find the best water for each.  Try dries in the late afternoon and evening, fish dries and droppers or high stick pocket water all day and run indicators through classic runs morning and late in the day.  The water is at midsummer low levels and ultra clear so exercising maximum stealth is key.

Creighton with his Shasta Trout Hawg of Fame dry fly McCloud RiverRainbow!The McCloud River  has been about as good as it gets.  We are enjoying outstanding numbers of fish and while most have been on the smaller size, there have been enough fish in the teens each day to keep anglers challenged.  While conditions are exceptional and the fish are feasting on the plethora of bugs that are coming off, the river has seen considerable pressure since the opening of the season in April.  Campgrounds at Ash Camp and Ah Di Na have been at or near capacity on weekends but have been clearing nicely midweek.  Flows on the McCloud are very low and ultra clear so the fishing has become quite technical.  Stealth is paramount, fishing water that has seen less pressure also helps as does fishing good imitations that these trout don’t see often.  Fly fishers who know the river well and grasp this may catch dozens of fish a day, while those who are less experienced will find few. Even then experienced anglers will discover it is difficult to fool the larger, wary trout this river is famous for.  We have been enjoying this challenge and hope you do too!

Jerri enjoys another lunkerCraig, Fall RiverFishing on the Fall River has been fair to good with hatches building and the dry fly fishing taking form.  The weather has been unstable and on days when the wind is not a factor the dry fly fishing has been good.  Otherwise swinging nymphs and streamers along with dead drifting nymphs has produced well.  The majority of fish have been on the smaller size but spawners are returning in increasing numbers and good fish are coming to the net most every day, though a few of the biggest do manage to still get away.  The river is in great shape and the weeds are filling in nicely.  Fall River is in great condition for this time in the season and makes for a very relaxing, soulful experience.

Fly Fishing Guide Fred Gordon with a hefty Lower Sacramento River RainbowThe Lower Sacramento River continues to produce good numbers of trout and incredibly high quality Rainbows for anglers of all abilities.  With the variable weather, hatches have been on and off and so has the fishing.  Some days have been outstanding, others requiring working hard for a few good fish.  With clear weather in the forecast, the bite should pick up and become much more consistent.  Flows remain low, clear and steady, at 7,460 cfs, a bit below the norm of 10,000 for this time of the year.  The weather has been variable but the forecast is calling for clear and pleasantly warm weather which we expect will get the summertime caddis in full swing and provide wrenching grabs from hot healthy fish looking to put on some weight after completing their spawn.  Hatches have been variable with some days being steller and others sparse with some Pale Morning Duns, small spring caddis and summer caddis on warmer days.  The river has been fishing from Caldwell to Red Bluff but boat ramps have been noticeably busier on weekends than weekdays.  Note that the river above Hwy 44 bridge is closed to all fishing to protect endangered salmon.

Pit River springtime RainbowThe Pit River has been great except for a short period a couple weeks ago when the water came up and muddied.  While Stoneflies and Mayflies will get grabbed Caddis have been coming off in clouds and the fish have been feasting.  We have some guide availability so if you have not experienced the Pit we recommend you schedule a date to learn this rugged river.  Nymphing with or without an indicator during the day has produced best with fish taking smaller bugs more often than the bigger bites but a few of our biggest fish have come on the larger stonefly patterns.  Get here now!

Salmonfly dry fly and Klamath River steelieStoneflies on the Klamath River popped early last week and we expect the dry fly fishing to take off with the warm weather this week which should make  the egg laying adults available on the surface.   Flows are low and very fishable at 1180 cfs, a few hundred below the norm, though those without experience drifting the Klamath can easily find themselves perched on midstream rocks.  The Irongate Hatchery typically releases about 5,000 juvenile steelhead which in the past have provided not stop action on dry flies during this time of year.  Targeting spring run steelhead  along with juvenile wild fish and the few half pounders that have hung around will provide the bulk of the action.

Local creeks are accessible and fishing very well, we have enjoyed some outstanding days fishing dry flies with cane rods to eager fish, finding Browns, Rainbows and an occasional Brookie,  though they may be small, they are fun and good for the soul.  If you want to experience the feeling of being a kid again try fishing for these little gems on one of our incredible local creeks.  Many of these are fragile small streams that do not suffer pressure well and most will likely suffer poor conditions turning to small trickles once summer arrives.

Upper Sacramento Fishing Guide Report: Dry Flies!

USac Brown TroutDry Flies and Big Brown Trout!

I’ve been under the weather for a while so it felt great to finally get out on the river to enjoy some of the showers we have been experiencing the past few weeks. I grabbed a rod that was rigged with a couple nymphs from my last trip and cast them into a deep pool on the Upper Sac and caught a few fish.  It was reassuring to feel some life on the other end.  I then switched to a dry dropper rig to fish some pocket water upstream and over the next hour and a half caught about a dozen, mostly small rainbows on the dropper, but a few decent sized trout also came to my trusty Parachute Adams.

I then took a short walk to a favorite slick and found some rising fish.  A few appeared to be good sized and they we taking hard!  With a number of bugs in the air, Green Drakes, Brown Drakes, Pale Morning Duns, Tibialis (pinks), two sized rusty spinners (12 & 16) as well as at least a couple species of caddis and even a Salmonfly, it was going to be a bit of a crap shoot to figure it out.  I tied on my go to Tibialis (pink) pattern as these bugs seemed to be the most numerous.  The pattern is a rust colored spider (sparsely tied) Humpy and I made what I thought were a few good presentations without a look.  I switched to a rust colored CDC emerger as the fish seemed to be taking something just under the surface and drew a few bumps (or was I just off my game and set too soon?).

The Bonbon, Ameletus Dry Fly?I made a few more passes with the emerger without success and thought perhaps I had put all the fish down.  I gave them a little rest as I switched to a soft hackle emerger and wet it so it would sink a bit. So I could track it, I tied it off the bend of a Brown Drake pattern I had tied up a few seasons ago.  Luckily, a few fish started to rise again so I cast to the closest one which to my amazement ate the large Brown Drake!

The fish turned out to be a wild Brown Trout, a very rare event on the Upper Sac, perhaps 1/500 or 1/1000 fish caught and was also about twenty inches which is also quite rare.  But what really amazed me is what happened after I released this fish.  It swam up against my leg and she rested there for about ten minutes while I untangled my line, stored my flies and took a few pics of her.  Fly fishing can be very nurturing and healing.  Having spent the past few weeks contemplating the possibility of never being able to fly fish again it was a better welcome back than I could ever have hoped for.

Here is the recipe for the “Brown Drake” Bon Bon pictured above should you care to tie one on:  Hook: Tiemco 100 size 10, Thread: Rust 6.0, Tail: 6-8 Dark Moose Hair, Body: Rust Superfine Dubbing, Rib: Yellow Silk Thread, Wing: Dark Dun Deer Hair, Hackle:  Furnace.

PS: My best efforts to key the bug was a reference in Hafele & Hughes, Western Hatches for the Ameletus Mayfly.  The bugs I have captured have two dark brown split tails, 1 1/2 the body length, a rust colored abdomen and thorax with distinct yellowish/tan markings and a variegated dark dun wing.  H & H lists no recommended Dun or Spinner patterns, though they do describe the habitat: “Ameletus are distributed through out the western states, but fishable numbers occur sporadically across the range…nymphs are commonly found in small, rapid streams, near but not in fast water…the same places inhabited by large trout.”  Let me know if you have some thoughts about what species this fly might be representing?

Northern California Fly Fishing Guides Pre-Season Preview

The General Trout Season opens this Saturday, April 25th!

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 Sac, Lower Sacramento and Pit Rivers remain open and are fishing well.  We have experienced another low water year, but with nearly three times the precipitation we experienced last year drought conditions are not nearly as extreme as the remainder of the state.  All of the local rivers in the shadow of Shasta derive base flows that come from springs and are in superb shape for the regular trout season opener this weekend.

Contrary to popular belief, these low water years are when the spring fishing and catching are typically at their best and fly fishers have good cause to celebrate as spring is also when our best and biggest hatches of the year peak and the low flow levels make for exceptional accessibility and ease of wading.  The National Weather Service is also forecasting showers this weekend in the northstate, with daytime temps in the 50′s through low 70′s (with clearing early next week) which should also help keep the crowds at bay. Showers can often spark early season mayfly hatches and improve the bite.  Our recommendation is to fish early and often this spring!

Our year round trout rivers including the Upper Sacramento, Lower Sac and Pit Rivers have been fishing exceptionally well, with flows on the Upper Sac and McCloud Rivers near perfect, at levels and clarity we don’t see until late June in average seasons. Fall River and Hat Creek are in great shape as usual and we expect with the mild spring weather we’ve had that hatches will likely come off earlier than usual.   If you are headed to the shadow of Shasta, please drop us a line to schedule a guide or just to check on the latest conditions!

Upper Sacramento River

Upper SacramentoFishing Conditions

For several weeks the fishing has been good to great with most wild Rainbows in the teens and we have even seen a few fish dry fly fishing with March Browns and small Mayflies (Tibialis).  Flows are  low and crystal clear for this time of year, making it very wadeable and fishable, but stealthy approaches and presentations are essential for success.  This spring looks to be similar to last season as conditions will allow us to fish during the biggest and best hatches of the season, including the big Green Drakes, Brown Drakes and of course Golden and Salmonflies.

Hatches appear to be unfolding early this year as we’ve already seen the beginning of the Salmonfly, Goldenstones and March Browns, with the peak of the hatches and the big Mayflies of spring soon to follow. We’ve also be seeing an abundance of smaller bugs, including PMD’s and spring caddis with an increase in their activity expected in the coming weeks.  The bite has been best on small caddis and mayflies nymphs with light midday hatches of March Browns and Brown Drakes getting the fish looking up. Big nymphs in sizes 4 to 10 have been productive particularly for the larger fish, though typically more fish come on the smaller offerings. Again, stealth will be key, do not expect to throw a big bright bobber with wrenching grabs like you would in typical heavy spring flows, as in the low clear water you’ll just frighten fish with them. Small unobtrusive indicators, high stick nymphing and fishing dries with droppers along with stealthy wading and accurate presentations with minimal disturbance will likely offer better success.

There  are  spawning Wild Rainbows this time of year. If you spot fish in shallow water in groups or pairs enjoy the show but please avoid spooking or fishing to them as they are exceptionally vulnerable in the low water we are seeing this season.

Water Conditions

Flows at Delta have daily fluctuations related to air temps and passing storms from 300 to 600 cfs, again ideal for fly fishers.  The norm for this time of year is 2,000 cfs and we typically don’t see flows this low and fishable until the end of June for most seasons.   Water clarity is exceptional and with water temps in the mid to upper forties expect fish to be taking well. With a snow pack well below the average and warm weather in the forecast we expect these great conditions to continue into the coming weeks when our biggest hatches of the year will peak.


Small nymphs produce more fish on average than the larger ones but the trophy fish have been taking the bigger flies. Fish Copper Johns, Micromays, Pheasant Tails, Birdsnests, Iron Sallies and small caddis patterns in 14-18′s in runs, slots, slicks and pocket water. Rubberlegs, Prince Nymphs, dark and golden stone imitations are increasingly finding fish. Expect to see improving hatches of the big bugs and increasing top water action in the weeks to come.

McCloud River

Reopens Saturday, April 25th.

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

We could not be more excited about the opener on the McCloud this season as we experienced some outstanding fishing in similar conditions the past two seasons.   The McCloud River below McCloud Reservoir looks to be in superb shape with flows below the reservoir at summer release levels, well below the norm with good clarity.

The McCloud’s sister rivers, the Upper Sac and Pit have been superb lately and we expect much of the same for the opener on the McCloud. Flows on the Upper McCloud above the reservoir are well below the seasonal norm but a tad higher than the trickle we see in summer.  The first couple weeks after the opener can be quite crowded on the Upper McCloud River as folks look to fill their creels with heavy DFW fish plants as well as the wild rainbows that have moved in trying to spawn.

Water Conditions

Flows below McCloud Reservoir have been exceptionally low at 329 cfs at Lake Shasta and are steady at 206 cfs at Ah Di Na with good clarity. With a low water year in store, it is unlikely PG&E will dump water and dampen the opener so we expect fishing to be quite good.  Quite unusual for this time in the year, there will be many places to cross on the Lower McCloud, similar to midsummer conditions with lots of pocket water and many runs that rarely see early season anglers.  With the Upper Sac, Pit River and small creeks running lower that usual, we hope and expect the Lower McCloud will avoid becoming the McCrowded this spring.

Flows on the Upper McCloud above the McCloud Reservoir are also quite low a bit below 600 cfs, well below the norm and will likely remain so for the coming weeks as there is little snow at lower elevations, expect temporary increases during and after rainstorms.


The opening of the season is most often a nymphing affair but look for opportunities for dry fly action midday and towards evening. Big bugs will become increasingly important, a few Salmonflies and Brown Drakes have been spotted, probably a sign that hatches will come off earlier than usual this season? Be prepared with small flies as well as large. We like to offer one of each when nymphing and tie droppers off our big dries. Try Stoneflies in orange or yellow #6-10, or a large Parachute Adams, hanging Copper Johns, Iron Sallies, PT’s, Micromays and your favorite caddis pupa in #14-18 off the bend. Use these small nymphs in combination with Poxyback Goldenstones, Rubberlegs, and Princes when exploring with an indicator or high stick nymphing.

Lower Sacramento River

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

Recent fishing for trophy Rainbows has been good to great.  Flows have been bumped up a bit each day recently from 4,000 and are scheduled to move to 6,000 cfs on April 24th.  This can often throw the bite off for a few days while fish settle into new lies. Those most familiar with the river will likely have noticeably more success locating fish.  Flows are still a couple thousand below the norm and it will be interesting to see how irrigation flows are managed in the coming months with the state’s water shortage. The Fish and Game commission has instituted a complete fishing closure from Keswick Dam to the Highway 44 bridge from April 27th through July 31st to help protect endangered spring run Chinook Salmon.

Hatches are still sparse with  PMD’s some Pinks, lingering March Browns, and spring caddis to go with some summer caddis beginning to show as the bite has slowly improved. Some Salmonflies are also hatching so the fish have been taking stonefly nymphs as well.  We continue to have great success side drifting small nymphs & rubberlegs while the dry fly fishing has been fair at best as water clarity is still hovering around three feet. Spring showers can still impact clarity down steam when side streams flush during and a few days after storms.

Drop us a line to schedule a friendly local guide during this prime time, most of our guides have grown up on the banks of the Lower Sacramento River and know it intimately having fished it their entire lives.

Water Conditions

Releases at Keswick increased from 3,500 cfs on April 16th and are scheduled to top off at 6,000 cfs on April 24th. which is well below the norm of 7,500 and superb for fly fishing.   Flows at Bend Bridge are at 5,350 cfs, about half of the median for this time of year of 10,000 cfs. Water clarity is fair, roughly three feet or so throughout but can be impacted by showers (a few this weekend in the forecast) on lower stretches below tributaries.  Walk and wade opportunities are exceptional but will be much more limited if and when we see irrigation flow increases later this spring and summer.


Small nymphs patterns are the norm. Your favorite PMD nymphs, various Pheasant tails and Micromays in #14 – 18″s will likely get the most attention but those trying Prince Nymphs, Copper Johns, Ironsallies, Fox Poopahs & Birdsnests are also finding fish. For two and three fly rigs try adding a Super Floss Rubberleg or an egg pattern. There are still some Rainbows on the spawn, please do not target fish podded up in shallow gravel beds.

Pit River

Pit RiverFishing Conditions

The fishing as well as the catching has been outstanding.  Lots of bugs to choose from, nymphing with a large fly and small dropper has been stellar with some opportunities to throw dries as well.   Flows are typical in the 300 cfs range on Pit 3 and 400′s in Pit 4 & 5 making for challenging wading.  We are finding fish nymphing classic runs and slots prospecting with two fly rigs but attractor dries with droppers in pocket water and caddis in the evening have also brought a few fish to hand. Small patterns have been out fishing large ones but the larger specimens have preferred the bigger bites. Might consider taking the indicator off and high sticking or even experimenting with streamers? This is an early season gem as spring hatches are terrific and come off sooner here than local sister rivers.

With the new flow regimen crowds are a thing of the past, but with the limited access, weekdays can fish better.  The Pit is an excellent venue to round out  your opening week successfully!   We recommend scheduling one of our great local guides who know the river intimately.

Water Conditions

Flows are a bit above optimum, low to mid 300′s on Pit 3 and near 500 cfs on Pit 4 and 5, which is the norm for the new flows regimen.  Spring storms can muddy tribs though in these conditions they should clear quickly.  All reaches have been fishing though most anglers who have sampled the Pit recently had their best success on on Pit 3 which has a bit more fishable access.


Standard prospecting with nymphs has produced the best. Prince Nymphs, PT’s, Birdsnests, Rubberleg Stones, Golden Stones, Copper Johns and Yellow Sallies.   Try mixing and matching, one large, one small, one dark, one light. High sticking can outproduce indicator nymphing as fishng pressure increases.  Dry flies and droppers? Try large attractors with droppers fished in runs and slots then switch to small caddis or mayfly dries when the hatches get going and fish show.  Pull a large streamer in olive or black and hang on.  Might be a good plan to start your season here before the weekend opener!

Fall River

Reopens Saturday, April 25th.

DSCF4036Fishing Conditions

Early scouting on the Fall River is finding very similar conditions to last year with very low and clear flows and minimal early season weed growth.   The flow is steady and the river is clear with perfect conditions.   The bugs have been showing and fish have been taking them so the early season dry fly fishing will hopefully be less spotty than the past few years.  Nymphing and pulling streamers will always find fish.  With showers in the forecast and other local streams in great shape we expect the opening weekend to be the usual social event as anglers make their annual pilgrimage but will likely lack the crowds that typical high flow seasons bring. Fishing after opening weekend can be more enjoyable and productive if you are able.   We feature the finest guides on the Fall River including Tom Peppas, George Durand and Scott Saiki.  Their schedules fill early so we recommend reserving a place on their calendars soon!

Expect predominately a mix of Blue Wing Olives and Pale Morning Duns along with some springtime caddis.  Before and after hatches plan on nymphing or swinging flies to fish that are active and willing.   Locating pods of feeders and technical, stealthy presentations is always key.  Flows and clarity are currently ideal, and with little snow at lower elevations, melt from tribs on years like we are having is unlikely to cloud the water and spoil the dry fly fishing.

Water Conditions

The steady primary flows from this giant spring creek bubble out of the ground from the aquifer.  The few small tributaries that contribute flows and can silt the river making fishing less productive, particularly the dry fly fishing are also low and clear so we expect a terrific spring season.  Some adult fish this time of year have moved into tribs and the  upper river preparing to spawn or are spawned out and heading back out.  Please do not actively fish over pods of wild Rainbows on spawning beds.


Small dries are the norm during hatches.  We prefer low floating imitations that provide good profiles such as Parachute PMD’s and BWO’s, Hacklestackers, Sparkle Duns and the like.  Having Emerger and Cripple patterns is always  a good bet as well.  Try nymphing with or without a tiny indicator with small mayfly patterns such as Pheasant Tails, Hunch Back Infrequens, Poxyback PMD’s, and Micromays as well as your favorite caddis pupa patterns.   We most enjoy swinging small streamers and nymphs before and after hatch periods.

Hat Creek

Reopens Saturday, April 25th.

Hat CreekFishing Conditions

The Hat is in good condition and should fish well during the first weeks of the season. The opening weekend on Hat Creek can be a community affair, particularly at the Powerhouse 2 riffle. With other rivers in the area experiencing low water conditions, Hat Creek will likely see less pressure this season but a good many anglers will still make their annual pilgrimage. Spring hatches are the reason. The fish have had a break from angling pressure and larger bugs make it easier on the angler, particularly those of us with aging eyes.

Water Conditions

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. This year  flows on area streams are currently well below average and will be for the coming weeks.  Still Hat Creek can be a circus at Powerhouse #2 riffle on opening weekend so seek out stretches midriver and below or other area waters for the opener or perhaps give Hat Creek a go midweek when the crowds return home.


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 downsteam can provide some relief from the crowds and is generally more productive than prospecting with dries during nonhatch periods. Parachute and Paradun PMD’s, emergers and cripples #14-16, plan on changing flies often for rising fish than can be selective. EC Caddis & Elk Hair Caddis #14-16 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.

Consider this your invitation to get here now and fish it soon and often this spring.  Shasta Trout’s features the finest local guides who have spent as much time on the rivers they guide as anyone.  We believe sharing this intimate knowledge enhances your experience not only during your trip but for seasons after.  Drop us a line so we might help make the most of your time on the water.