Northern California fly fishing guides season preview

Ross Lower Sac 9/07The General Trout Season opens this Saturday, April 27th!

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 exceptionally well, with flows on the Upper Sac and McCloud Rivers unbelievably low, at levels and clarity we haven’t seen until late June the past several seasons.  Backcountry skiers, rafters and kayakers are bummed, but fly fishers have good cause to celebrate these rare outstanding spring conditions when our best hatches of the year peak.  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!

Upper Sacramento River

Upper SacramentoFishing Conditions

Last week the fishing was epic with several fish in the upper teens and one over 20″ to hand nymphing.  This was followed by dry fly fishing with March Browns and Brown Drakes that we usually only dream about. Flows are amazingly low for this time of year, making it very wadeable and fishable, particularly as anglers work upstream. This spring looks to be our best in many years as conditions will allow us to fish during the best hatches of the season.

Hatches appear to be unfolding early this year as we’ve already seen the beginning of the Salmonfly and March Browns this week, with the peak of the hatches and the Goldenstones along with the big Mayflies of spring soon to follow. We’ll also be seeing an abundance of smaller bugs, including PMD’s and spring caddis in the coming weeks.The bite has been best on small caddis and mayflies nymphs with light midday hatches of March Browns and Brown Drakes getting the fish looking up. Big nymphs in sizes 4 to 10 have been productive particularly for the larger fish, though typically more fish 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 as they are exceptionally vulnerable in the low water we are seeing this season.

Shasta Trout’s local guides are intimate with the river as we spend more time on the Upper Sac each season individually than our competitor’s guides combined.  Consider this your invitation to get here now and fish it soon and often this spring. If you are seeking a guide drop us a line so we might help you to enjoy the bounty!

Water Conditions

Flows have dropped from 1,000 cfs to 800 this week with daily fluctuations related to air temps and passing storms.  The norm for this time of year is 2,000 cfs and we haven’t see flows this low and fishable until the end of June for many seasons.   Water clarity is outstanding and with water temps in the mid to upper forties expect fish to be taking well. With a snow pack well below the average and warm weather in the forecast we expect these great conditions to continue into the coming weeks when our best hatches of the year peak.

Flies

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

McCloud River

William enters the ShastaTrout Hawg of Fame with a McCloud River trophyBrown TroutReopens Saturday, April 27th.

Fishing Conditions

We could not be more excited about the opener on the McCloud this season as we experienced some challenging high water early seasons that past several years during the time hatches on the river were at their best.  The McCloud River below McCloud Reservoir looks to be in superb shape with flows on the lower river at summer release levels, well below the norm with good clarity.

The McCloud’s sister rivers, the Upper Sac and Pit have been excellent lately and we expect much of the same for the opener on the McCloud. Flows on the Upper McCloud above the reservoir are at the seasonal norm but much higher than the trickle we see in summer.  The first couple weeks after the opener can be quite 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.  We spend as much time on the McCloud River each season as our competitor’s guides spend collectively.

Water Conditions

Flows below McCloud Reservoir have been decreasing down to 457 cfs at Lake Shasta and are steady at 225 cfs at Ah Di Na with fair to good clarity. With a low water year in store, 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 a bit high ranging from 800-900 cfs but below the norm and will likely remain so for the coming weeks.

Quite unusual for this time in the year, there will be many places to cross on the Lower McCloud, similar to midsummer conditions with lots of pocket water and many runs that rarely see early season anglers.  With the Upper Sac, Pit River and small creeks running lower that usual, we hope and expect the Lower McCloud will avoid becoming the McCrowded this spring.

Flies

The opening of the season is most often a nymphing affair but look for opportunities for dry fly action midday and towards evening. Big bugs will become increasingly important, a few Salmonflies and Brown Drakes have been spotted, probably 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 stick nymphing.

Lower Sacramento River

Lower SacramentoLarry lands a lunker, enters Shasta Trout "Hawg of Fame" Fishing Conditions

Recent fishing for trophy Rainbows has been phenomenal.  Last week fished as well as we have ever seen it in any season, particularly for larger fish.  Flows have been a bit below the norm which has concentrated the large trophy ‘bows and provided an opportunity for the fish of a lifetime.  Flows increased this week with larger increases on the way in late May and June as irrigation demands in the central valley grow.  This will spread the fish out a bit and local knowledge will be key in locating the fresh lies.

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 has been spotty and technical if, when, and where you find it.   Water clarity continues to be outstanding with  the river fishing well from the Posse Ground all the way to Bend.  Spring showers can still impact clarity downsteam of side streams during and a few days after storms.

Drop us a line to schedule a friendly local guide during this prime time, most 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 from 5,500 cfs on April 21st to 9,000 cfs on the 24th which is above the norm of 8,000 but still superb for fly fishing.   Flows at Bend Bridge are at 9600 cfs, a bit below the median for this time of year of 10,000 cfs, having increased with the Keswick bump. Water clarity is excellent through out but can be impacted by showers (none in the forecast) on lower stretches below tributaries.  Walk and wade opportunities are much more limited with the flow increase.

Flies

Small nymphs below rubberleg patterns are the norm. Your favorite PMD nymphs, various Pheasant tails and Micromays in #14 – 18″s will likely get the most attention but those trying Prince Nymphs, Copper Johns, Ironsallies, Fox Poopahs & Birdsnests are also finding fish. For two and three fly rigs try adding a Super Floss Rubberleg or Microspawn. There are still some Rainbows on the spawn, please do not target fish podded up in shallow gravel beds.

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 well as some reaches on Pit 4. 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 Conditions

Flows are a bit above optimum, at the norm for the new flows and are reasonably clear.  Storms can muddy tribs though in these conditions they should clear quickly.  All reaches have been fishing though most anglers who have sampled the Pit recently had their best success on Pit 3 and Pit 4.

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 and fish show.  Pull a large streamer in olive or black and hang on.  Might be a good plan to start your season here before the weekend opener!

Fall River

Hexagenia Dun a large bite for trophy troutReopens Saturday, April 27th.

Fishing Conditions

Early scouting on the Fall River is finding very similar conditions to last year with very low and clear flows and minimal early season weed growth.   The flow is steady and the river is clear with perfect conditions.   The bugs have been sparse so dry fly fishing will likely be spotty but nymphing and pulling streamers will always find fish.  With fair weather in the forecast  we expect the opening weekend to be the usual social event as anglers make their annual pilgrimage. Fishing weekdays can be more enjoyable and productive if you are able.  Shasta Trout owners Craig & Jerri Nielsen have been sampling the Fall on opening weekend for over twenty five years and plan to return again this season.

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.  Flows and clarity are currently ideal, and with little snow at lower elevations, melt from tribs on years like we are having is unlikely to cloud the water and spoil the dry fly fishing.  We recommend scheduling one of our great local guides,  all of them have been fishing and guiding the Fall River longer than our biggest competitor’s guides have been collectively.

Water Conditions

The steady primary flows from this giant spring creek bubble out of the ground from the aquifer.  The few small tributaries that contribute flows and can silt the river making fishing less productive, particularly the dry fly fishing are also low and clear.  Some adult fish this time of year have moved into 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 27th.

Fishing Conditions

The Hat is typically 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 low water conditions, Hat Creek will likely see less pressure this season 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 Conditions

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 well below average and will be for the coming weeks.  Still Hat Creek can be a circus at Powerhouse #2 riffle so seek out stretches midriver and below or other area waters for the opening weekend and perhaps 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 rising 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 low, around 1000 cfs with the norm for this time of year is 2,400 cfs.  We are hope and expect very fishable flows 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 it collectively.

Trinity River

Trinity River Fishing Conditions
Flows on the Trinity have increase to 2000 cfs at Lewiston and the river is very high and dangerous to wade.   We will be returning for steelhead fishing in the fall. The majority of our guests reschedule early so availability for the best guides 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.

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