With fall just a few weeks away, we are enjoying some exceptionally fine weather and the final sunny days of summer, enabling us to wade wet on our local freestones, the McCloud, Upper Sac and Pit Rivers. The weather has cooled and smoke from local fires has disappeared with bright blue skies framing Mt. Shasta today. As is typical of summer, this is not the time of year we expect epic days catching loads of trophy fish, though on a few days recently our guests have been pleasantly surprised.
This is the time of year we enjoy the simple pleasures of fly fishing 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 pocket water, fishing a dry dropper through a classic run, or casting tiny dries to selective evening risers. This is also a favorite time of year to target the larger fish with streamers. Though not a numbers game, anglers who cover a good deal of water can enjoy productive days for big Rainbows on the Upper Sac, Fall and Pit and as well as trophy Browns on the McCloud River.
Fishing on local freestones has been best early and late in the day when the sun is off the water. Evening hatches on the Upper Sac and McCloud have been unusally reliable, lasting from the time the sun goes off the water until dark thirty. The last half hour of light provides the best opportunities to target larger fish. Small to tiny mayflies along with a few caddis are bringing fish to the surface, fishing a soft hackle emerger can be the just the trick to fool the most selective fish. Most anglers are nymphing fast oxygenated water during the day but fishing dry fly attractors with droppers, has been as much or more fun and equally effective.
Lake Siskiyou, a local sleeper, continues to provide non stop action with poppers for Smallmouth Bass. Most of the fish are little but don’t know it. A few brusiers have come to hand along with some nice sized hold over trout. Our typical outing is to pound the banks and tules with poppers until the sun goes off the lake and then set up for the Hex hatch which continues to linger when the wind is off the water. The best fish of the day often come just as the huge dry flies we are casting become difficult to see. It is a magical experience to watch the alpenglow make it’s way down the flanks of Mt. Shasta while casting to fish rising to these Jurassic bugs.
The Upper Sacramento River has offered up some very fine fish recently as some Shasta Lake run fish have joined the mix. These are hot acrobatic fish, typically in the mid to upper teens who make their way upstream this time of year, much like summer steelhead to winter over and spawn in spring. Similar to steelhead they are not highly selective and can often be found traveling in pods providing great action with multiple hook ups possible in runs where you find them.
The McCloud has produced exceptionally well throughout the day with a steady grab, though the majority of the fish have been on the smaller size, with occasional larger fish mixed in. Evening hatches have been good, starting from the time the sun goes off the water until dark. Flows are low and clear with a bit of glacial tint, nearly ideal with four to five feet of clarity. On earlier trips this week, we had the place to ourselves and the weather was great, there were no campers at Ah-Di-Na or Ash Camp and we were the only guests on the Nature Conservancy water. Both dry flies with droppers and nymphing produced well, though for those in the know, it can be an ideal time to cover a lot of water with a streamer to find some trophy Browns, just pick the water type to match your favorite technique and enjoy!
The Pit River has been outstanding but due to the Bagley Fire, we have not visited in the past week. Nymphing the fast oxygenated water in Pit 3 with small nymphs kept guests who are able to manage wading in the new higher flows very pleased with a good number of fat football shaped ‘bows coming to hand. Again, we have enjoyed a good deal of solitude. Do take a thermometer with you to check water temps on the lower beats (Pit 4 & 5) as temps in the upper sixties and seventies can create mortality rates too high this time of year to safely catch and release fish wild trout.
The Forest Service has issued a warning that with the encroachment of the Bagley Fire the road from Ash Camp to the Pit Rivers is closed. There are fire fighters staged in the Big Bend area. At this time both the Pit and McCloud Rivers are open for travel to fish. They have a website set up: http://inciweb.org/incident/3188/ to update travelers on conditions and closures. We suggest you check the latest reports before making travel plans.
Those who like it hot have enjoyed some fine catches on the Lower Sacramento River of late with good numbers of fish along with a few big ‘bows. Daytime temps have been in the nineties, not scorching by Central Valley summer standards, and with steadily lowering flows, hatches of summer caddis and mayflies have been predictable. A good place to visit after sleeping in, the grab has been best later in the day with some slower early mornings and an afternoon lull between the early caddis frenzy and later mayfly bite.
The Fall River has been fishing well though the valley has been smokey. The overcast the smoke creates has improved the dry fly fishing, which has been generally poor overall this season. Callibaetis can be found hatching on the lower river with some lingering PMD’s and Trico’s on the upper river. Nymphing before and after the hatch has been exceptional. This is the time of year that you can often have the place to yourself, particularly on weekdays. On most days the fishing drops of completely mid-afternoon and doesn’t pick up again until the caddis hatch during the last hour of light. As soon as the weather cools we expect Blue Wing Olives and PMD’s to reappear along with some Mahoganies providing good top water action.
Drop us a line if you are headed our way, we are always pleased to share all we can about current conditions and if desired, arrange a trip with the finest local guides.