Kayaking and Fly Fishing the Upper McCloud River

Storm exits from our first small rapid Stan working the run A Bright and Beautiful Upper McCloud Rainbow One of the Village riverside guest homes Click on any photo for more pics of this exciting adventure

We have fly fished the Upper McCloud River below Fowler’s camp many times and put in kayaks and floated to McCloud Reservoir a few times but we have never combined the two activities until this day.  Craig invited his good friend Stan, who brought is son Storm, who had yet to see this section of the river.  In summer the McCloud is a trickle at the put in below Lower Fowler’s Falls campground and the first mile or so we spent dragging, pushing and carrying our boats perhaps more than we paddled them.  Once we arrived at Muir Springs the volume increased and downstream only a few more places required getting out of the boat.

The McCloud River flows through Wyntoon, part of the Hearst Estate, until it reaches McCloud Reservoir.  Few anglers are able to fish this section other than the Hearst’s guests.  For those who are not invited, the price of entry are Class III paddling skills and a willingness to bang a shin or two over some rough portages.  The whitewater was more dangerous than we had anticipated. In two rapids, including the most challenging just below Big Springs, trees have fallen completely across the stream and created “strainers”, places where boaters, or worse yet swimmers can become trapped by strong currents.  Fortunately we had no mishaps, only a few tense moments as we paddled and portaged around these obstacles.

Once below the strainers and past the heaviest whitewater we began fishing.  It was the middle of a hot summer day and the prospects were not great, but the water coming in from the springs is very cold and we found fish willing to grab dry flies in the first few runs we sampled!  The Rainbows were not large but brightly colored and energetic.  As we moved downstream sampling a few more runs the dry fly bite slowed but nymphing produced well in several runs but for some reason we could not figure. not at all in others?  We paddled past the incredible Wyntoon estate and the long last leg across McCloud Reservoir.  A very fulfilling and enjoyable day, but we might wait for our shins to heal and a few trees to dislodge before we return.


  1. tomas
    Posted August 25, 2010 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    That’s the kind of fishing adventure I like! Those are some pretty fish and crazy big houses. Anyone come running out to greet you?

  2. Posted August 27, 2010 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

    No one but the hired help waving to us as we paddled by. Those are some crazy castles.

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