Indian summer is lingering in the shadow of Shasta, with ripe juicy blackberries lining the banks. The colors on the leaves are changing, and daytime temps have cooled only a bit as the fishing is turning hot. Salmon are showing on the Lower Sacramento, Trinity and Klamath Rivers and the egg bite for trophy Trout and Steelhead has begun. This is the time of year when low flows find the big ‘uns leaving their deep summer haunts, tempted by the feast, and they become vulnerable as they fatten for winter. We have enjoyed our best days of the season on the Upper Sacramento and Pit Rivers this week as the midday bite has picked up along with some October Caddis beginning to pop. We recommend scheduling your fall trip now, we still have a few remaining prime dates available with the finest local guides!
This has been our finest year ever on the Lower Sacramento River as the fishing has been as consistently good as we can recall (and a few of us have been fishing it for nearly fifty seasons). The recent bite has been on mayflies early and late in the day with a hot grab for caddis in the late morning and early afternoon. It has been difficult at times to hook and land the trophy Rainbows we find on the Lower Sac with size 16 and 18 mayfly imitations but several of our guests have been up to the challenge. The fall migration of Salmon looks to be the biggest in nearly a decade and the egg bite has just begun, which along with the flows dropping will make finding, hooking and landing trophy Rainbows easier, particularly for less experienced anglers. If you have enjoyed this drama in the past you know this is prime time, if you have not yet experienced a day drifting over fall run Chinook and casting to trophy trout and steelhead on the Lower Sac , we recommend scheduling your trip now.
The Upper Sacramento River has seen little pressure recently and the continuing fair weather makes for exceptionally enjoyable days on the water. Flows are now at the seasons low making the river very wadeable with nearly forty miles of river to enjoy. The lower and midriver runs have produced best for us recently, particularly early and midday. We have been seeing a morning size 14 mayfly spinner fall, along with a size 16 or 18 light colored caddis hatch which have fish eating nymphs and swung flies. Black fly larva continue to be effective dead drifted in riffs, pocket water and below drop offs. The river is ultraclear top to bottom so extra stealth is advised. October Caddis have begun popping on the upper river in the evening and we have enjoyed our first fish on size 8 dry dries. We expect this hatch to make its way downstream in the coming weeks. We don’t expect this to take off until the first hard frost which hopefully should also get the Blue Wing Olives going full force. Some nice fish have also recently been seduced with small streamers. For those so inclined, the city of Dunsmuir has been planting trophy fish in town to supplement Fish & Game’s planting catchables in the put and take section from Scarlett Way down to Sweetbriar.
Fishing on the McCloud has been closed due to the Bagley Fire. The order went out the morning of August 29th from the local Forest Service office. Last week we received a phone call and this email from the Special Uses Coordinator:
I spoke to the new Incident Command today for the Bagley fire and he says that they are planning to have most of the road work completed on the Bagley fire by next Wednesday or Thursday. He felt very confident that they would have the McCloud River back open for fishing by October. If I hear for certain that the road down to Ah-Di-Na and Ash Camp are open, I will send out an email.
Probably the easiest way for the public to find out if the McCloud has reopened is to call the Mt. Shasta Forest Service office before venturing to the McCloud or Pit Rivers 530-926-4511. The McCloud office can also be contacted at 530-964-2184.
Fishing on the Pit River this season has been outstanding whenever access and flows allow. The new flow regime with the increased volume has reduced the amount of fishable water and to add to the frustration the flows have not always been steady or predictable. Finding unpressured water and steady flows has been the key to success. Its been a boom or bust game, when we find suitable conditions and rested water the Pit has been terrific. Caddis have been hatching midmorning through the afternoon and nymphing with size 14-16 patterns has provided the most success, though fish have also come on small mayfly nymphs, Copper Johns and Rubberleg patterns as this river almost always has a bit of a smorgasboard.
The summer pattern with short windows of dry fly fishing early and late on the Fall River continues with warm temps. Hatches of # 18 & 20 Blue Wing Olives, #16 Mahoganies and a few lingering Caddis and #16 Pale Morning Duns have provided some top water action. Prior to hatch times dead drifting or swinging nymphs has been most productive while swinging streamers after the hatch has also found some fish. Some Callibaetis have brought up some very nice fish on the lower river. Traffic on the river has been light and folks are enjoying spectacular scenery along with some solitude.
Our best steelhead fishing of the season on the Klamath, Lower Sac and Trinity Rivers is just a couple weeks away. A few of us steelhead diehards have been unwilling to wait and have been rewarded with some early season adult fish along with numerous juveniles and half-pounders, the best fishing we have seen this soon in the season in a very long time. On the Klamath and Lower Sacramento River and Trinity our best catches have come on nymphs while on the Trinity those dedicated to the swing have found an occasional adult fish. Salmon runs on the Klamath and Lower Sac are the biggest recorded recently which bodes well for returns of steelhead and the much anticipated egg bite. Now is the time to book your fall steelhead trip for remaining available dates as the best local guides are often booked well in advance.
Drop us a line if you are headed our way and seeking guide service or not. We are always pleased to share all we can about current conditions and point you in a direction you are most likely to enjoy.