Preseason Guide Picks, Previewing the trout fly fishing season in Northern California

The general trout season opens this Saturday, April 30th.  The McCloud, Fall River and Hat Creek will open after closing for the winter while we’ve been fishing the remainder of our rivers year round. Here are our picks for the opener and  a brief description of what is fishing best:

Paul with a bright beautiful Lower Sac trophy 'bow Pick #1) The Lower Sacramento River has dropped to normal flows and is fishing exceptionally well (silly good for some) after some very high water that fortunately did not flood the Central Valley.  It has been a nymphing affair with small mayfly and caddis nymphs getting the most attention with rubber legs and eggs also getting grabbed.  A number of our guides have had exceptional days with anglers who not only enjoyed the nonstop action but some of the largest trophy Rainbows of their lives.  As the weather has warmed the PMD’s and summer Caddis action has created opportunities for some dry fly fishing in the shallows and flats.

Ed finds a lengthy Fall River Rainbow Trout Pick #2) Fall River and Pick#3) Hat Creek are spring creeks less impacted by high flows.  They are in great shape with excellent bug activity, normal flows and water clarity. Come prepared to nymph with the hope of some morning and midday day hatches and dry fly action with small mayflies in the forefront.  Be warned, in high water years like this Fall River and Hat Creek have historically been crowded on opening weekend. You might want to schedule a trip to the Fall River early this season, as runoff from Bear Creek increases it can impact water clarity and throw of the bite, particularly with dry flies.

Jim with an Upper Sacramento River trophy Pick #4) Flows on the Upper Sac have dropped and stabilized a bit above the norm and some exceptional fish are podded in some of the bigger runs making this the time of year to pick up your best Rainbow of the season!  Dry fly fishing for some smaller fish midday has been enjoyable but nymphing deep holding water with small nymphs and rubber legs has offered the best shot for an Upper Sac trophy.  There are not many fishable runs at these flows, those who know the river best invest time traveling from one productive run to another.  Stay tuned, springtime Mayfly hatches and Stones will soon be showing on this northstate gem.

William finds a McCloud River trophy Brown Trout Pick #5) Unfortunately  flows at Ah-Di-Na doubled in the last few days and the McCloud will be very high and a challenge to fish.    While the McCloud in May can be magical with some exceptional hatches and eager fish it will be tough to find fishable water at these flows.  Those who know it best will find fish but a fair bit of walking between runs will be required.  The road to Ash Camp has been cleared but the campground is already filled.  The road to Ah-Di-Na and the Nature Conservancy is currently blocked by snowdrifts.  Stay tuned, we plan on keeping an eye on the flows and road in hopes of some great days in the weeks ahead.

Not recommended) The Pit River and Klamath River continue to be high and off color.  Once flows return to the norm we expect these rivers to take off as fishing pressure has been nonexistent and the fish will be hungry.  The Salmonfly feast on the Klamath in late May and June is not to be missed!  We have a few guide openings still available.

A few friends and guests recently enjoyed the “smoltahon’ on the Trinity River, nonstop action fishing mostly dry flies to juvenile Steelhead released by the hatchery.  This came to an abrupt end when flows are increased on April 22nd with a peak flow of 11,000 cfs scheduled for May 4th, which will then gradually brought down.

Drop us a line if you are headed our way, we are happy to share all we can.  We also feature the finest local guides who spend as much time individually on the rivers they guide as our biggest competitor’s spend collectively. We believe there is no substitute for their first hand knowledge.

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