Craig had a cancellation on Sunday so after playing on the computer during the morning he decided to get out of the office and explore a few creeks for trophy trout while circumnavigating Mount Shasta with a fly rod. While most anglers consider a twenty inch Rainbow or Brown Trout on one of our legendary rivers a true trophy, the fish sought on this day were even rarer, and the game played with only the essentials, with the lightest fly rod, a floating line, leader to 6X and a dry fly, perhaps a spare fly or two in a hat.
First up were McCloud Redband Rainbows, a California Heritage Trout found only in tiny creeks in the McCloud drainage. Most of these fish have been extirpated from their natal streams but a few local creeks still harbor fishable numbers. One creek has a fish in nearly every spot capable of holding a trout. The first fish caught that day was an amazing lunker, eight perhaps even nine inches that came to a #16 Yellow Skimpy (a skinny humpy). Honest! You’ll have to take our word for it as it escaped during the picture taking process…but we know where that lunker lives now. A few more Redbands were caught and released before moving on to Brown Trout Heaven.
The next local creek on the agenda is a meadow stream known for finicky Brown Trout that are willing to take perfectly presented dry flies. Many local creeks have native Rainbows but few are known as Brown Trout fisheries. A few wily small ones darted for cover while searching for the big ‘un. In an act of faith rather than logic we switched flies and tied on a #16 Parachute Adams. Finally a perfect drift up against a log and undercut bank found it’s target, a sighted ten inch trophy Brown Trout. See the photo above if you don’t believe us!
The third and last stream of the day is a mini version of the Deschutes, a desert stream with abundant lava rock. Unlike the Deschutes which is known for Redside Rainbows and Steelhead, this local gem harbors Brown Trout. Again they are surprisingly willing to take a well presented dry fly. After eyeing all three flies, we went with our instincts and selected a #14 Rusty Skimpy. Though we made a number of perfect presentations, each only managed to frighten these wily trophies. In a last ditch effort we finally aired out a cast against the far bank and completely across the creek. This cast was an honest twenty footer and even at that distance the fly landed with a delicate kiss on the water. The fish rose and the game was on. The brute fought brilliantly, heading for downed logs and behind razor sharp rocks but after a lengthy battle lasting nearly ten seconds the hawg was finally brought to hand.
Final score, three different creeks, three different flies, three trophy trout and one happy angler. If you are interested in fishing these trophy trout waters they are quite easy to find. Just grab a Shasta National Forest Service map and enjoy circumnavigating in the shadow of Shasta. If we shared the names of these creeks, we’d just spoil all your fun!