Northern California fly fishing guides preview: McCloud & Fall Rivers, Hat Creek opener, Upper & Lower Sac, & Pit Rivers

The General Trout Season opens this Saturday, April 28th!

This weekend will be your first opportunity to sample the McCloud, Hat Creek and Fall River this season.  The National Weather Service is forecasting near perfect weather with daytime temps in the 70’s.  Our year round rivers including the Lower Sac and Pit Rivers are fishing well, while flows on the Upper Sac remain high.  Plan on visiting one of these fisheries to round out an adventure over the coming weeks of the regular season. We have also added  some great local guides this season. If you are headed to the shadow of Shasta, please drop us a line to schedule a guide or to check on the latest conditions!

Lower Sacramento River

Beautiful Lower Sacramento River springtime trophy Rainbow Fishing Conditions

Recent fishing for trophy Rainbows has been phenomenal.  We can not recall a spring that has consistently fished this well, particularly for larger fish.  Flows have been a bit below the norm and steady which concentrates the large trophy ‘bows and provides an opportunity for the fish of a lifetime.  Expect some small flow increases in the near future with large increases on the way in late May and June as irrigation demands in the central valley grow.

The PMD’s have arrived in full force, with some lingering March Browns, Blue Winged Olives, and spring caddis along with some summer caddis beginning to show as the bite gets grabbier. Some Salmonflies are also hatching on the lower drifts where the fish have been taking 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 side streams 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 Sacramento River and know it intimately having fished it our entire lives.

Water Conditions

Releases at Keswick increased to 5,000 cfs on April 21st and to 6,000 cfs on the 23nd which is below the norm of 8,000 and ideal for fly fishing.   Flows at Bend Bridge are at 8750 cfs, also below the median for this time of year at 10,000 cfs, having dropped after the passing storms. While the water is still a tad off color on the lower reaches (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 only 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 some Rainbows on the spawn, please do not target fish podded up in shallow gravel beds.

McCloud River

Reopens Saturday, April 28th.

Fishing Conditions

We are very excited about the opener on the McCloud this season as we experienced disappointing high water early seasons in 2010 & 2011 during the time hatches were best.  Local guide Rick Cox, who lives on a McCloud tributary, has ventured out on some scouting forays and reports access into Ah Di Na and the Conservancy is clear of snow as is the road to Ash Camp with no significant rockfall blocking access.   The lower river looks to be in great shape with flows a bit below the norm and good clarity.

The McCloud’s sister rivers, the Upper Sac and Pit have been superb of late (recent flow increases blew out the USac) and we expect much of the same for the opener on the McCloud. Flows on the Upper McCloud are at the seasonal norm but much higher than the trickle we see in summer.  The first couple weeks after the opener can be very crowded on the Upper McCloud River as folks look to fill their creels 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 decreasing to 1140 cfs at Lake Shasta and steady at 370 cfs at Ah Di Na with fair to good clarity. The lake level is low so it is unlikely PG&E will dump water and dampen the opener so we expect fishing to be excellent.  Flows on the Upper McCloud above the McCloud Reservoir are quite high and will likely remain so for the coming weeks.

As usual for this time in the year, there will be a few places to cross on the Lower McCloud but at these flows it will be very fishable and wading accessible.  With the Upper Sac, Pit River and small creeks still running high, we fear the Lower McCloud may become the McCrowded.  The upper McCloud 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 started to drop after storms and are now about 3,500 having peaked at about 4500 cfs as spring runoff began in earnest last week.  Conditions more suited to whitewater sports than fishing  will last for a few weeks and limit the amount of  fishable water to the largest runs with shorelines that offer access as flows drop.  Our local guides who are intimate with the river have found these runs are currently holding trophy rainbows.  This is a great 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 individually as our competitor’s guides spend collectively.

Water Conditons

Flows are currently dropping from 4500 to 3500 cfs with daily fluctuations related to air temps and passing storms.  The norm for this time of year is 2,000 cfs so 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 fair with water temps in the mid forties so expect fish to be taking softly. With a below average snow pack and warm weather in the forecast we expect flows to drop to more fishable levels in the coming weeks.

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, 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 weeks to come.

Pit River

Fishing Conditions

The fishing as well as the catching has been superb!  Flows are a bit high which with the revised flow regime has 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 also 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 fishable, Pit 3 is probably the best as access on Pit 4 and Pit 5 can be particularly difficult at these flows.  With the new flow regimen crowds are a thing of the past, but with the limited access, 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 know the river intimately as they have spent as much time on it as our biggest competitor’s guides spend 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.

Flies

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. 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.  Pull a large streamer in olive or black and hang on. Plan to start your season here before the weekend opener!

Fall River

Reopens Saturday, April 28th.

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 social event as anglers make their annual pilgrimage. Fishing weekdays can be more enjoyable and productive if you are able.

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 with or without 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 28th.

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 fish consistently well early. This year  flows on area streams are currently above  average and will be for the coming weeks.  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

Mark with Klamath River Steelie

 

Fishing Conditions
Flows on the Klamath continue to be exceptionally high, around 3600cfs but dropping slowly.  The norm for this time of year is 2,000 cfs.  We are hoping flows will drop dramatically in the coming weeks in time for the epic Salmonfly hatch which we typically experience in late May and early June.

Drop us a line for the latest on conditions as ShastaTrout guides fish the Upper Klamath more days individually than our competitor’s guides fish collectively.

Water Conditions

Flows have been very high at 3620 cfs dropping from nearly 4,000 for several weeks which is above “targeted” flows for even the wettest years.  We are unsure if the Bureau of  Reclamation will reach targets or not.

Flies

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

Trinity River

Trinity River Fishing Conditions
Flows on the Trinity are scheduled to increase to 2500 cfs by April 29th and 6,000 cfs by May 6th.  We will be returning for steelhead fishing in the fall and suggest you plan your trip now as a good portion of our guests reschedule the best guides each season and availability is limited.

Drop us a line for the latest on conditions as ShastaTrout guides are locals, many of us having grown up fishing this river.

Water Conditions

Flows are scheduled to reach 2500 cfs raising to 6,000 cfs on May 6th and will remain high making fishing impractical if not dangerous.

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