Northern California Fly Fishing Guide Report, McCloud, Upper Sacramento, Lower Sacramento, Klamath, Pit, Fall Rivers & Hat Creek

The General Trout Season Opens Saturday April 24th!

This weekend will be your earliest opportunity to sample the McCloud, Hat Creek and Fall River this season.

Our year round rivers including the Lower Sac, Upper Sac and Pit Rivers are all fishing well and will offer a pleasant option for rounding out an adventure over the opening weeks of the regular season. We also added  some great local guides that feature the Fall River last season. If you are headed this way, please drop us a line for the very latest on conditions!

Lower Sacramento River

Fishing Conditions

The fishing for trophy Rainbows has been phenomenal.  We can not recall a spring that has consistently fished this well, particularly for larger fish.  Several guests have recently enjoyed the fishing of a lifetime.  Flows have been below the norm and steady with small increases scheduled in the near future with large increases on the way in May and June as irrigation demands in the central valley grow.  The PMD’s have arrived in full force, which along with some March Browns, Blue Winged Olives, Pinks,  and lingering spring caddis have the fish on the grab.  Also some Salmonflies have showed on the lower drifts while the fish have been grabbing stonefly nymphs with abandon.  We continue to have great success side drifting small nymphs & rubberlegs while the dry fly fishing is spotty and technical if, when and where you find it.  Water clarity continues to be good above major tribs and has cleared quickly below after storms pass.  The river has been fishing well from the Posse Ground all the way to Bend, though clarity declines downsteam from the flows contributed by sidestreams during and a few days after storms.

Drop us a line to schedule a friendly local guide during this prime time, several of us have grown up on the banks of the Lower Sac and know it intimately as we have fished it our entire lives.

Water Conditons

Releases at Keswick increased by 1,000 cfs on April 14th to 4500 cfs and on the 22nd increased another 1,000 cfs to 5,500 which is below the norm of 8,000 and ideal for fly fishing.   Flows at Bend Bridge are exactly at the median for this time of year at 10,000 cfs, having dropped after the passing storm and while the water is still a tad off color (but clearing steadily) the bite has remained good.

Walk and wade opportunities are still excellent but in a few weeks as flows increase will become limited to a few productive spots.

Flies

Small nymphs below rubberleg patterns are the norm. Try Prince Nymphs, Copper Johns, Ironsallies, Fox Poopahs & Birdsnests, along with your favorite PMD nymphs, various Pheasant tails and Micromays in #14 – 18″s. For two and three fly rigs try adding a Super Floss Rubberleg or Microspawn. Still a few fish on the spawn, please do not target fish podded up in shallow gravel beds.

McCloud River

Reopens Saturday, April 24th.

Fishing Conditions

We are very much looking forward to the opener on the McCloud this season. A dissapointing year in 2008 was followed by another banner year in 2009.   Scouting forays have been limited as snow has blocked access into Ah Di Na and the Conservancy and a huge boulder has blocked access to Ash CampFortunately roads were cleared in time for the opener. The lower river looks to be in great shape with flows a bit below the norm with fair to good clarity.

The McCloud’s sister rivers, the Upper Sac and Pit have been superb of late and we expect much the same for the McCloud. Flows on the Upper McCloud are at the seasonal norm but much higher than the trickle we see in summer.  The road to Ah Di Nah is still snowed in but may open by the season start. Access on the Upper River still has patches of snow. The first couple weeks after the opener can be very crowded on the Upper River as folks look to fill their freezers with hatchery fish as well as the wild rainbows trying to spawn.

To enjoy the McCloud’s full splendor we recommend you schedule a day with one of our local guides who spend as much time on the McCloud River as our competitor’s guides spend collectively.

Water Conditons

Flows on the lower river have been steady around 1300 cfs at Lake Shasta and 270 cfs at Ah Di Na with fair to good clarity. Provided PG&E doesn’t dump water to dampen the opener we expect fishing to be excellent.

As usual for this time in the year, there will be a few places to cross but at these flows it will be very fishable wading from the near bank.  With the Upper Sac, Pit River and small tribs running high we fear the Lower McCloud may become the McCrowded.  The Upper River is high but normal for this time of year. The upper river is stocked so expect many folks taking the opportunity to  fill their freezers.

Flies

The opener is primarily a nymphing affair but look for opportunities for dry fly action midday and towards evening. Big bugs will become increasingly important, a few Salmonflies have been spotted. Perhaps 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 Stimis in orange or yellow #6-10, 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 sticking.

Upper Sacramento River

Fishing Conditions

Flows have stopped dropping after storms and are now fluctuating between 3,000 and 4,000 cfs since spring runoff began last week.  These conditions  will last for weeks and limit the amount of  fishable water to the largest runs with shorelines that offer access.  Our local guides who are intimate with the river have found these runs are currently holding trophy rainbows.  This is the best time of the year to find a fish that will make your season on the Upper Sac.   We’ve seen the beginning of Salmonflies this week, with the Goldenstones and the big Mayflies of spring soon to follow. Mostly caddis, small mayflies and yellow sallies midday. Larger nymphs are productive particularly for the larger fish, though more fish typically come on the smaller offerings. 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.

The Upper Sac is an excellent venue to start off your first trip of the season!  Contact us now for the best available local guides on this scenic freestone, they spend as much time on it as our competitor’s guides spend collectively.

Water Conditons

Flows are currently fluctuating from 3,000 to 4,000 cfs with daily fluctuations related to air temps and passing storms.   Don’t expect to step in the river and make your way upstream like you did last summer or fall.   Flows on the the very biggest longer runs are most approachable. Water clarity is good with water temps in the mid forties so expect fish to be taking softly. With and above average snow pack just starting to run off we do not expect flows to drop anytime soon. 

Flies

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

Pit River

Fishing Conditions

The fishing as well as the catching has been on fire! It simply does not get better.  Flows are a bit high which with the revised flow regime this season will become the new norm.   Water clarity is fair and improving making dry fly fishing possible. 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 brought some very fine fish to hand. Small patterns have been out fishing large ones but the larger specimens have preferred the bigger bites. Might consider trying a streamer? This is an early season gem as spring hatches are terrific and come off sooner here than local sister rivers.

All reaches are now fishing well though expect access across Pit 3 dam and at Pit 4 powerhouse  to continue to be an issue through most of the season until PG & E construction is completed.  Sunny weekends have drawn crowds, 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 knows the river intimately as they have spent as much time on it as our biggest competitor’s guides have spent collectively. 

Water Conditons

Flows are a bit above optimum and above the norm for the season but are mostly clear.  Storms can muddy tribs though they have been clearing quickly.  All reaches have been fishing though most anglers who have sampled the Pit recently had their best success on Pit 3 and 5.

Flies

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. 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. Pull a large streamer in olive or black and hang on. Plan to start your season here on a high note!

Fall River

Reopens Saturday, April 24th.

Fishing Conditions

Early scouting on the Fall River has been very promising.  The flow is steady and the river is clear with perfect conditions.   The bugs have been out and the trophy Rainbows are on them.  With fair weather in the forecast and local freestones running high, we expect the opening weekend to be a circus as anglers make their annual pilgrimage. Fishing weekdays can be more enjoyable and productive if you can.  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 will be key.  While flows and clarity are currently ideal, snowmelt from tribs on years like we are having can sometimes silt the river and spoil the dry fly fishing.  We recommend scheduling one of our great local guides soon to enjoy the feast while it lasts.  Several of them have been fishing and guiding the Fall River longer than our biggest competitor’s guides have been collectively.

Water Conditons

The steady primary flows from this giant spring creek bubble out of the ground from the aquifer.  The few small tributaries that contribute flows can silt the river and make fishing less productive, particularly the dry fly fishing.  We recommend scheduling your trip on the Fall River sooner rather than later and get it while it is good.  Some adult fish this time of year have moved in to 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.

Flies

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 under 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 24th.

Fishing Conditions

On scouting forays we’ve seen some heads rolling on small mayflies and good hatches of caddis. 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 high water conditions Hat Creek could see some serious pressure 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 Conditons

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 can be fishable early. This year flows on area streams are currently above average and will be for some time.  To avoid the circus seek out stretches midriver and below or other area waters for the opening weekend and give Hat Creek a go midweek.

Flies

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 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.

Klamath River

klamath-fall

Fishing Conditions
Some dry fly action on caddis though we like to add droppers. The hatchery has released smolts that will provide a smoltathon for those so inclined. Still a few steelhead hanging around including some small springers though many are spawning so avoid fishing shallow water and spawning beds. Water temps have increased and will continue to rise. Look for some Salmonflies to arrive in May, current low water conditions are conducive to an early hatch.

We recommend scheduling one of our great local guides now for the Salmonfly hatch as available dates are quickly becoming far and few between.  ShastaTrout guides fish the Upper Klamath more days individually than our competitor’s guides fish collectively.

Water Conditions

Flows have been steady at 1330 cfs for weeks which is below “targeted” flows for even the driest years.  With a drought in the Klamath Basin flows are targeted between 1400 and 1500 cfs for May 1st.  Not sure if the Bureau of  Reclamation will reach targets or not.  We expect this to be optimum for the big Salmonfly Hatch starting in May. This is nearly half the mean flow and is very fishable. Plan on drifting as wading is still limited and except for spawning steelhead  most fish are holding in deeper water.

Flies

Flies for the smoltathon include small nymphs and caddis dries which may provide more action than some find desirable.   Still possible to swing up small spring run Steelies with classic wets in sizes 8-10.  Avoid fishing over sighted spawners in shallow water.  Salmonflies are on the way!

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