The McCloud, Upper Sacramento, Lower Sacramento, Klamath, Pit, Fall Rivers & Hat Creek
We are now a bit over a month into the regular trout season and the fishing has been surprisingly good, particularly considering the wet and wacky weather we have been experiencing. The Redbud and Dogwoods are in full glory with more wildflowers popping each day. Birds are nesting and hatching their young. The weather has caused most of the hatches to get started late, with the BIG Salmonflies and Goldenstones just getting going.
With a near record snow pack most folks expected flows to be abnormally high but this has only been the case on the Upper Sacramento River. The McCloud, Pit, and Lower Sac flows have been good to great while the Klamath has been below the norm. On the Fall River and Hat Creek, we have enjoyed some exceptional spring creek fishing including some dry fly fishing that is the best you might imagine. With fair weather forecast and June-uary nearly behind us we expect the fishing to take off starting next week.
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Last week’s storms caused Mud Creek to flood which muddied the river and spoiled the fishing on Sunday, June 6th.
Fly Fishing on the McCloud continues to be good to great for those who know it best but not nearly as good for those with less experience. With a fair number of anglers testing their luck, the ability to find fresh water that hasn’t recently been fished seems to be key. The ultra clear water clarity requires maximum stealth and precise presentations as well. We have enjoyed some exceptional dry fly fishing but similar to the weather, it has not been consistent from day to day. Salmonflies and Stoneflies are arriving late and just beginning to show!
There has been considerable discussion regarding runoff and the snow pack but flows on the Lower McCloud continue to be low and very fishable, about the same level as we might see in an average summer. The Upper McCloud has very high but has fishable flows and still a few wild fish around. Fowler’s Camp is still closed for repairs so pressure has not been as great as most seasons from the wack em’ and stack ’em crowd but DFG has not resumed planting fish yet either.
Flows on the lower river have dropped to around 850 cfs at Lake Shasta and 260 cfs at Ah Di Na with good to
ultra clear clarity (last week’s storms caused Mud Creek to flood which muddied the river and spoiled the fishing on Sunday, June 6th) Drop us a line for current conditions and stay tuned for an update. We expect Provided PG&E doesn’t raise water significantly we expect fishing to continue to be excellent. As is usual at these flows most all of the crossings and pocket water will be accessible. With the Upper Sac and small tribs running high we fear the Lower McCloud may become the McCrowded this month.
Nymphing as been excellent as has the dry fly fishing on occasion for those who best understand the moods of the McCloud. Look for opportunities for dry fly action midday and towards evening as you nymph or pull streamers. Big bugs will become increasingly important with Salmonflies and Goldenstones staged to hatch in force. Best to 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, large Parachute Mayflies and hang Copper Johns, Copper Caddis, Iron Sallies, PT’s, Micromays and/or 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.
The Salmonflies have begun to pop and we expect the fish to begin moving to the surface for the feast very soon. There are still a few steelhead hanging around including some bright chrome springers willing to grab a nymph or swung fly! Most fish we are finding are wild or hatchery smolts along with a few resident trout. Warmer weather in the forecast should help and cooler water temps may provide an extended spring season. Try hanging small droppers off your dries before and after the dry fly bite for added action. We recommend scheduling one of our great local guides now for the Salmonfly hatch as available dates are becoming far and few between. ShastaTrout guides fish the Upper Klamath more days individually than our competitor’s guides spend on it collectively.
Flows out of Irongate have dropped to just above 1000 cfs which is below “targeted” flows of 1400 cfs for even the driest of years. While this concentrates the bugs and fish, prior experience navigating at these flows can help avoid sneaky rocks and the need to drag the boat a hundred yards.
There is a collapsed footbridge blocking the river between Klamathon and I5. The collapsed footbridge has been removed and boat passage has been restored. Drifting is far and away the most productive method for fishing the Salmonfly hatch and most folks find it the most enjoyable as well. Wading access is limited on some of the most productive stretches.
Time to break out the BIG dry flies. We like to carry foam flies along with a few more natural classic Salmonfly patterns such as Sofa Pillows and Stimulators in sizes 4-8. Goldenstones are a size or two smaller. Hanging small nymphs off the bend during slower periods can keep you busy. At some point it can become an nuisance releasing so many smaller fish. There are still a few wild as well as hatchery Steelhead hanging around so it is possible for the dedicated to swing them up with small classic wets or nymph with rubberleg stones.
The fishing and catching continues to be superb on the Pit River. While nymphing has been most productive on occasion dry fly fishing late in the day and on wet, drippy days has been outstanding. We are finding fish nymphing classic runs along with slots and pockets while anticipating the opportunities to throw dries. While the larger bugs are becoming increasingly important the small patterns continue to out fish the larger ones. The larger specimens do seem to prefer the bigger bites. Weekends, particularly those with the best weather have seen increased fishing pressure. With the road closures it can sometimes make it a challenge to escape to a less pressured stretch of river. Plan to start your season here on a high note! We recommend scheduling one of our great local guides who knows this river intimately.
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 (this fall?). Flows are at optimum, slightly above the norm for the season. Water clarity is fair and improving making dry fly fishing possible. We’ve seen some high and cloudy water below tribs, but only during heavy storms.
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. 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.
Early season 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. Some days have been a bit too stormy but with fair weather in the forecast the hatches should become more predictable and we expect the fish will respond. Fair weather weekends can be crowded, fishing weekdays can be more enjoyable and productive if you can manage an escape. Expect predominately a mix of Blue Wing Olives and Pale Morning Duns along with caddis late in the day. 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 us have been fishing and guiding the Fall River longer individually than our biggest competitor’s guides have been collectively.
All fishing is from prams or other small motorized water craft. The steady primary flows from this giant spring creek bubble out of the ground from the aquifer. Weed growth which started out strong has been stunted a bit by recent cool, cloudy weather. 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. Adult fish have begun moving out of the tribs and the upper river after spawning and are becoming increasingly available.
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 when you have a fussy fish.
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.
The dry fly fishing on some of the cloudy drippy days we’ve seen lately has been as good as it gets! The Hat is in good condition and should fish well during the next few weeks of the season as the bugs have been staging. Some Salmonflies are about but with poor weather have not been flying much. We like to hang beadhead droppers off our big dries to propect during periods when fish aren’t showing on the surface. Cover as much water as you can manage while planning to hit good dry fly spots later in the day when surface feeding is most likely. Nymphing the riffs can also be productive, though fish are scattered as the weed growth is quite thin. To avoid the circus at Power House 2 we recommend you seek out stretches midriver as well as below or other area waters during the early day and return for the late day hatch. Also best to give Hat Creek a go midweek if you can manage.
Hat Creek, being low gradient with spring creek conditions does not receive the runoff other local streams experience so fishes consistently well through even the heaviest storms. Weed growth has been very stunted with the cold, cloudy weather. Fish are concentrated in areas with cover.
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 BWO’s, PMD’s and spring caddis. Nymphing the fast riffles 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. Small beadhead droppers, PT’s, Gordon Princes, Micromays and such off the bend of big dries such as Rogue Stones, Stimulators, Green Paradrakes and Crips and the like can be fun to fish and productive, especially when there is not visible surface action.
The fishing (and catching) continues to be good in between the heaviest storm action. We can not recall a spring that has consistently fished this well, particularly for larger fish. Flows have increased from below the norm to above which are about the same as normal summer irrigation flows. The PMD’s have arrived in full force providing occassional dry fly action. With weather forecast into the 80’s summer caddis will soon have the fish on the grab. 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.
Releases at Keswick increased to 15,000 cfs on June 1st and are steady. Flows will likely remain near that level through summer. This is about 4,000 cfs above the norm for this time of year but average for summer irrigation demand. Flows at Bend Bridge are nearly 18,000 again above the median for this time of year of 11,000 cfs, having increased a bit during recent storms and while the water is still a tad off color (but clearing steadily) the bite has remained good. Walk and wade opportunities are very limited at these flows.
Small nymphs 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. Be prepared as the warm weather arrives for summer caddis, to dead drift Fox Poopas, Birdsnests and other tan pupa patterns. For two and three fly rigs try adding a Super Floss Rubberlegs. For dries try Parachute PMD’s and crips, E/C Caddis or Twilight Caddis with and emerger dropper (a little swing at the end of your drift can sometimes do the trick).
Flows have been high and higher as storms have passed. These conditions will last for weeks and limit the amount of fishable water to the largest runs with shorelines that offer access. Fishing is still possible but pretty tough to access the river in most places. Those of us who are intimate with the river have found a few runs and some good rainbows, but overall it has not been the best option in the area. With little fishing pressure this spring, we expect the Upper Sac to be exceptional later in the summer. We have seen the beginning of Salmonflies this week, with the Goldenstones 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 has been no planting of trout in the Dunsmuir to Sweetbriar area by DFG until they complete their environmental studies later this year.
We expect the Upper Sac to be an excellent venue this summer! Contact us now for the best available local guides on this scenic freestone, we spend as much time on it as our competitor’s guides spend collectively.
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. These flows are even a bit too big for optimum whitewater rafting! Flows on the the very biggest longer runs are most approachable. Water clarity is good with water temps in the forties so expect fish to be taking softly. With an above average snow pack just starting to run off we do not expect flows to drop anytime soon, but the fishing should be good later as the fishing pressure has been nonexistent.
Small nymphs produce more fish on average than the larger ones but the big fish have been increasingly 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 in the few places you can access fishable water.