Spring looks to finally be on it's way in the shadow of Shasta, the Redbud is in bloom and Ospreys have returned to build their nests and raise their young. We witnessed a couple tiny heads poking up from a nest top screeching to be fed this weekend. As usual we enjoy kicking off the regular trout season with a preview of conditions on the legendary rivers we call home. Saturday, April 28th is the opener on California seasonal streams including the McCloud, Fall River and Hat Creek. We expect a below average water year as snowpack is at 70% of normal, which should provide good early season fishing continuing well into summer.
For the weekend, 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.
Lower Sacramento River:
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.
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 even better fishing 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.
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 trout 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, snow melt from tribs on years like we are having can sometimes silt the river and spoil the dry fly fishing, so we recommend scheduling a trip soon.
The Pit River:
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 weekend successfully!
Flows on the Upper Sacramento River, Klamath River and Trinity River are currently more suited to whitewater sports than fly fishing. Check in with us later in the season for an update.
For complete reports and updates visit the ShastaTrout.com website. Do drop us a line if you are headed our way and seeking guide service or wanting to check on current conditions, we are always pleased to share all we can. We hope to see you soon!