Well it’s been quite a blissful end to summer, complete with the San Francisco Giants taking the National League Pennant and heading to the World Series once again to face off with the Kansas City Royals. Gabe Duran would be proud and we miss banging out a guide day in October and racing to the closest TV to watch the remainder of the game while enjoying a mug of suds with our comrade and favorite humans. With post season baseball also comes ridiculous fishing opportunities. We love October for many reasons but the weather has to be the highlight, combined with excellent fishing in a vast array of different locations. October used to be our favorite in Redding, or “in-town” sections of the Lower Sacramento River but the pressure from out of area guides and anglers coming out to enjoy the spectacle has deterred us from making it our go to location. That’s not a bad thing, it’s good for the fly fishing community but we enjoy solitude so time to change tactics. We are still here when the time is right but Northern California offers so much more and this report is just a scratch on the surface. We often find ourselves chasing the Fall colors on the McCloud or Pit, swinging streamers to steelhead on the lower river or doing a little pre-season whitewater on the Klamath and Trinity Rivers for both steelhead and salmon. Not to mention stripping smolt patterns for some migratory brown trout. This month has it all!
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Lower Sacramento River: The egg bite is here as King Salmon still continue to roll up under the Golden Gate bridge and make their way to the Redding area. Although spawning salmon offer a great place for anglers to target fat and pristine rainbows gulping the eggs that don’t find their way into secured salmon nests, they also offer a view into a life cycle that keeps this plus many other rivers alive and flourishing. That being said it’s important to respect spawning areas and remember a few key points. One, wading or standing on top of redds or spawning areas is completely unacceptable. Don’t do it. Yes, they may enable you to reach that run that would be otherwise unattainable without a boat but with every step you are sacrificing the future of the river and life force that has endured many obstacles in order to make it back to the shallow gravel bars of the river. If the gravel has been swept clean and looks bright often accompanied by hump of fresh gravel you should not stand there or walk on that area regardless of how good the fishing might be. Try fishing the first piece of deep water below the nursery. It is here you will often find the largest fish and you can enjoy it without damaging or killing precious eggs that our system so desperately needs. And since we are mentioning boats it also important to mention that anchoring on redds as described above is also an activity that is frowned upon and should be avoided. We know if you’re the first person to race down and anchor on spawning areas the fishing can be favorable. But at what cost? We urge clients, anglers, guides and other visitors to help leave these areas unmolested and exercise respect when fishing around them. If you see your buddy, or your guide doing it, that doesn’t make it okay. Or does it give you a pass to do the same. It’s wrong. Many people don’t know, so don’t yell at them because more than likely you are going to be met with some sort of defense or hostility. But rather try to educate and share what you know with them and explain why we as stewards of the river should protect our resources for generations to come. We can still catch fish and enjoy this amazing time of the year without inflicting harm. I know when I see people raping the redds for the benefit only to catch more fish it kills me and I often feel like it’s my job to keep them from damaging our precious resource. Communicate, educate and exercise ethical techniques. This your river! This is all of ours, let’s act like it.
Eggs have been working but many of our fish this month have been coming on other patterns. Some key patterns: Micro may’s, Hogan’s S&M’s, Bird’s nest, Rubber legs, peaches n cream, Fox’s poopah, TB PT’s olive, zebra midge, amber prince and Lower Sac midge.
***Attention Sacramento River Anglers and Guides!!! See bottom of report for an emergency notice by California Department of Fish and wildlife.***
Trinity River: The early pulse flow has brought some fish into the Junction City area and higher above Weaverville. The best reports have been coming from Evans Bar to the confluence with the North Fork of the Trinity. It’s not so much what you are using but it’s the location and the drift you implement. Swinging has also been very productive especially in low light situations and in the shallow/shady riffles located near deeper runs. Maybe you’ve caught plenty of fish on the river? Try doing something different. It’s a great time before the water temps cool to try your hand at throwing dries or smaller traditional patterns. You may not catch as many fish but I assure you a fish on the dry trumps whatever number you have dredging them up on nymphs. Plus we have months of cold water on the way. It’s a rewarding experience that does take time but it’s a game changer. For those who haven’t explored this avenue of early season steelheading this is a main focus of the Kennedy Brother’s. We throw a ton of floating lines this time of year and we’d love the opportunity to teach you how to implement a switch rod or demonstrate the ease of learning the spey cast. It’s super easy to grasp and we find many people intimidated by the often snobby attitude of the “I only fish this way” mentality. There is a lot being offered right now with a few fish in the system so take the time to expand your horizons and enjoy this amazing watershed.
McCloud River: The McCloud had a rare event recently which left the water turbid from an eroding glacier off of Mount Shasta. The muddy water entered the system at Mud Creek (pun? I don’t think so) just above the McCloud Reservoir but the waters have cleared! As a boy I was haunted by this river and I still am. Give Ash Camp, Ah-Dih-Nah and the Nature Conservancy waters a try. A great place to camp and enjoy classic trout fishing on the world’s classic trout stream. Also there are several private waters available for those looking for a clandestine experience. Our favorite is The Fly Shop’s section located on the Bollibokka property.
Upper Sacramento River: The Upper Sacramento River is a Northern California staple stretching from Lake Siskiyou near the town of Mount Shasta, running through the back alley’s off the town of Dunsmuir and ending up in the stomach of Lake Shasta. With Shasta Lake approximately 130- feet below capacity it has opened up the lower section of the river that most haven’t seen in this lifetime. The trout fishing can be great but it’s also a great destination for aggressive bass. Spotted bass, smallmouth bass and hybrids. We’ve even tangled with several large elusive carp in the delta area. And you know what, nobody is around. Give it a shot. The Lower Sac is not the only game in town.
Attention Sacramento Anglers and Guides
As a result of drought conditions we are monitoring water temperatures and dissolved (DO) levels in the Sacramento River from Deer Creek near Vina, upstream to Keswick Dam. We are requesting your cooperation in not disturbing the underwater sensors used to record the temperatures and DO every half half hour. the sensors are deployed on short lengths of cable attached to tree roots or metal weights near the edges of the river or in areas with shallow salmon redds. If you see such devices please do not disturb them. we have had problems with people pulling them up and leaving them on dry ground and stealing them, if you see one on dry ground please call Doug Killam at 530-527-8893
We are also marking salmon redds in danger of being dewatered by flow reductions. These markers are small round tags with a piece of flagging attached. If you see these, please leave them undisturbed as they are being used to determine the impacts of flow reductions to the populations of salmon in the area.
This year we continue to mark salmon carcasses with small round aluminum tags in the lower jaw. these are used by boat crews to determine the populations of salmon spawning each year in the area. They are not reward tags and we ask you leave them on the carcasses if you see them.
Thank you for your cooperation, Doug Killam- Red Bluff, CDFW