Fall has arrived in the shadow of Shasta, the blackberries are juicy and ripe, the colors are changing, and daytime temps have cooled as the fishing is turning hot. Salmon are showing on the Lower Sacramento, Trinity and Klamath Rivers and the egg bite for trophy Trout and Steelhead has begun. This is the time of year when low flows find the big ‘uns leaving their deep summer haunts, tempted by the feast, and they become vulnerable as they fatten for winter. We have enjoyed our best days of the season on the Upper Sacramento and McCloud Rivers this week as the midday bite has picked up along with some October Caddis beginning to pop. We recommend scheduling your fall trip now, we still have a few remaining prime dates available with the finest local guides!
This has been our finest year ever on the Lower Sacramento River as the fishing has been as consistently good as we can recall (and a few of us have been fishing it for nearly fifty seasons). The recent bite has been on mayflies early and late in the day with a hot grab for caddis in the afternoon. It has been difficult at times to hook and land the trophy Rainbows we find on the Lower Sac with size 16 and 18 mayfly imitations but several of our guests have been up to the challenge. The fall migration of Salmon looks to be the biggest in nearly a decade and the egg bite has just begun, which along with the flows dropping will make finding, hooking and landing trophy Rainbows easier, particularly for less experienced anglers. If you have enjoyed this drama in the past you know this is prime time, if you have not yet experienced a day drifting over fall run Chinook and casting to trophy trout and steelhead on the Lower Sac , we recommend scheduling your trip now.
With the high flows this spring the Upper Sacramento River has seen little pressure and the cooling air temps have the larger fish back on the prowl. Flows are now at the seasons low making the river very wadeable with nearly forty miles of river to enjoy. The lower and midriver runs have produced best for us recently, particularly early and midday. We have been seeing a morning size 14 mayfly spinner fall, along with a size 16 or 18 light colored caddis hatch which have fish eating nymphs and swung flies. The cooler temps have shifted the best bite from very early to late morning. The river is ultraclear top to bottom so extra stealth is advised. October Caddis have begun popping on the upper river in the evening and we have enjoyed our first fish on size 8 dry dries. We expect this hatch to make its way downstream in the coming weeks. The cool weather hopefully should also get the Blue Wing Olives going full force. Some nice fish have also recently been seduced with small streamers. For those so inclined, the city of Dunsmuir has been planting trophy fish in town to supplement Fish & Game’s planting catchables in the put and take section from Scarlett Way down to Sweetbriar.
Fishing on the McCloud has been technical and catch rates have reflected this, with experienced anglers getting the best action and mostly small fish coming to hand. The river was one of the few in the area that was fishable this spring and it has seen a good deal of pressure as a result. Flows are also at a minimum and water clarity is at it’s max. Hatches have been sparse with mostly small to tiny mayflies, some midges and a few midday caddis. The evening hatch has been fair to poor. If you plan to nymph or dry fly fish, best to bring your “A” game, find tucked away slots and pockets that have seen less pressure and approach with maximum stealth. While the majority of fish we have seen to hand recently have been small, a few larger fish in the mid to upper teens have come out to play in the last few days, with a few monsters also hooked but not landed. Those who fish streamers and know the river well have enjoyed some solid if not spectacular days. Cloud cover, light rain to color the water a bit and October Caddis and Blue Wing Olives beginning to pop, will help get the fish active and improve the fishing particularly for less experienced anglers.
Fishing on the Pit River this season has been frustrating to say the least. The new flow regime with the increased volume has reduced the amount of fishable water and to add to the frustration the flows have not always been steady or predictable. Finding unpressured water and steady flows has been the key to success. Its been a boom or bust game, when we find suitable conditions and rested water the Pit has been terrific. Returning the next day we may find the flows changed unexpectedly and a large group of anglers in our favorite reaches which can make for a challenging day. Caddis have been hatching midmorning through the afternoon and nymphing with size 14-16 patterns has provided the most success, though fish have also come on small mayfly nymphs, Copper Johns and Rubberleg patterns as this river almost always has a bit of a smorgasboard.
The summer pattern with short windows of dry fly fishing early and late on the Fall River is coming to an end with the cool weather and hatches of # 18 & 20 Blue Wing Olives, #16 Mahoganies and a few lingering Caddis and #16 Pale Morning Duns which have provided some superb top water action. With the best bite shifting from early morning and late evening to midday, anglers are able to avoid predawn starts and sleep in. Traffic on the river has been light and folks are enjoying spectacular scenery along with some solitude. Prior to hatch times dead drifting or swinging nymphs has been most productive while swinging streamers after the hatch has also found some fish. With cloud cover and some light rain, conditions are a bit less technical, particularly for casting dries. If possible it is best to avoid windy days which can spoil the dry fly fishing.
Our best steelhead fishing of the season on the Klamath, Lower Sac and Trinity Rivers is just a couple weeks away. A few of us steelhead diehards have been unwilling to wait and have been rewarded with some early season adult fish along with numerous juveniles and half-pounders, the best fishing we have seen this soon in the season in a very long time. On the Klamath and Lower Sacramento River the fish have come on nymphs while on the Trinity we ventured out dedicated to the swing and found an occasional adult fish. Salmon runs on the Klamath and Lower Sac are the biggest recorded recently which bodes well for returns of steelhead and the much anticipated egg bite. Now is the time to book your fall steelhead trip for remaining available dates as the best local guides are often booked well in advance.
Drop us a line if you are headed our way and seeking guide service or not. We are always pleased to share all we can about current conditions and point you in a direction you are most likely to enjoy.