State of Jefferson Steelhead and Trout Outlook

We hope everybody had a safe holidays and enjoyed Christmas and the seasons celebrations.  Maybe some received new fly fishing gear or had the chance to wet a line.  We didn’t fish for a few days but spent our time with family and friends in a well needed break from the winter season.  But just as quickly as it started it has come to an end and we creep into the wee hours of 2016.  So whats happening and what does the near future look like?  It’s looking pretty good overall and the break in heavy precipitation has brought many rivers into or close to go time.  Here is a quick peek:


Light rain and high elevation snow is expected across our northern counties today, including Del Norte, Humboldt, and northern Trinity counties. Other than being mildly inconvenient for outdoor activities, minimal impacts are expected. Dry weather is expected Wednesday and Thursday.

 Lower Sacramento River

Our staple river for guide trips and life source for the state of California overall has been fishing well as we transfer into the winter season.  The major change as detailed in the graph below occurred on December 20th by doubling the flows overnight from about 5,000 to 10,000 CFS.  The biggest obstacle for these flows is going to be for wade anglers.  Not only does this highly limit the areas accessible via wading boot but it poses a serious threat if you were to fall in.  There are still some wade spots available but use caution.


Notice the flow increase on the 20th and then notice the stable flows.  The Lower Sac is always a good bet this time of year and is best approached with a drift boat at these flows.

Eggs, alevins and small mayfly patterns have produced the best in the last few weeks.  If you don’t feel like braving the higher flows this is a great time to use your favorite guide with a drift boat as these next few months are some of the best and lightest in traffic.  Need a guide? We can help.


Shannon’s first day in a drift boat and fly fishing stayed into the fish all day!

The Coast

Although some rivers have remained high and off color there are some sections falling into shape in both Oregon and California.  These next storms don’t look like much at this point but keep an eye out as forecasts become more detailed.  There looks to be some good to excellent fishing conditions for some of the rivers in the State of Jefferson.  Take a look at the Smith River below:

The Smith River is typically the first to provide fishable conditions and right now she is looking pretty good!

The Smith River is typically the first to provide fishable conditions and right now she is looking pretty good!  Have you ever visited the Smith in the winter?  You should, its magical.

Although the next storms don’t look like they are going to bring much in precipitation at this point but definitely be prepared for cold conditions.  Always bring an extra change of clothes and have a way to warm up in case of a spill.   Also be careful on the roadways as cooler conditions like this also create black ice, which the only way to combat is by driving way slower than normal.


Reservoir Storage Compared to Last Year


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Northern California Fly Fishing Guides


December storms bring in the Chrome

If April showers bring May flowers then December storms bring sea-run steelhead home! Currently a heavy “pineapple express” weather system is lowering its crosshairs into Northern California and bringing heavy precipitation and deep snow over the upper elevations. Look for high and off color conditions in most of the rivers also with some roadways being closed or with major delays throughout and after the system. Although this new front will blow out most of our rivers for steelhead, minus perhaps the very upper reaches, there is good news. The severe storm fronts that blast the State of Jefferson bring in fresh fish from the ocean and allows fish already in the river system to get up into the tributaries and spawn safely. After five years of drought this is just what we needed. And although it’s not the best for fishing this week it may prove to make the New Year and without question years to come successful for steelhead and other anadromous friends.

giant steelhead and smiling angler

This is what December storms can equate to come Jan/Feb/Mar and this is what chrome looks like. Michael Mcgahan captured this amazing shot of shots last year of elated Marty Welsh and this spectacular shiny specimen. Does he look excited or what? Do you know what those marks are on the fish between the dorsal and adipose fin?

So what is happening with the weather? We find ourselves explaining the situation via e-mail, text, phone and social media outlets. As much as our job requires us to be on top of the weather it’s better left up to the professionals. Here is a short video clip with some diagrams explaining the basics of the storm system that is slamming Nor Cal through the week and possibly into the weekend.




One road condition which has plagued us most of the last several weeks has been the rockslide on Hwy 299 west of Weaverville and just east of Del Loma on the Trinity River. Known as the Big French Creek slide this area is highly unstable and doesn’t look to improve anytime soon. Currently it is closed and will be at least into next week. Although one lane traffic may commence eventually, until this mountainside is stabilized it will be a reoccurring event like many slides on Hwy 299 have been in the past. Plan ahead and ensure enough time to go the long way around.

Look for Hwy 299 to be closed at the area indicated on the map. Travelers are urged to take other ways around and avoid Hwy 299 until the mountainside stabilizes and debris is removed. Highway 3 is the closest detour but can be treacherous in wet and snowy conditions so plan for extra travel time.

Look for Hwy 299 to be closed at the area indicated on the map. Travelers are urged to take other ways around and avoid Hwy 299 until the mountainside stabilizes and debris is removed. Highway 3 is the closest detour but can be treacherous in wet and snowy conditions so plan for extra travel time.


A monster of a storm is about to come out from under the bed and tackle 14,172′ Mt. Shasta. The weather service is calling for 58-80″ of snow for Mt. Shasta in the next 3 days. This year has been a banner one compared to the last five with a 176% of average precipitation to date (17.5″).

Our hope is always to write more and share more photos detailing our adventures but as usual we find ourselves utterly buried in working the river and enjoying its critters. We would like to thank all the people who made this past fall season and the ones previous unforgettable. We are truly blessed and constantly amazed to be surrounded by such great people, from our families, friends, clients, anglers, fellow guides, co-workers and everybody else behind the scenes. The fishing family here in Northern California is truly special and our life would not be nearly as enjoyable as it is without the faces behind it. You make it possible and we are grateful. Sending the best wishes to all those who make the river flow.



Fish Kennedy Brothers

Northern California Fly Fishing Guides


McCloud River Flow Advisory Notice

The McCloud River is a frequented hot spot in the month of October and into the first two weeks of November for many anglers.  The river is home to the world’s most famous rainbow trout and the watershed is a magical destination particularly when decked with brilliant fall plumage.  Whether it be camping at Ah-Di-Nah campground and fishing the Nature Conservancy or staying at one the private stretches like the Bollibokka Club we know there are many folks out there with plans for a visit before the end of trout season.  For those planning a visit please take a look at the notice below before making the trek.  Predicting weather is always tough, so at this point it’s only an advisory.

McCloud reservoir spillway

McCloud Reservoir Spill Expected this weekend as weather systems pound Northern California.

McCloud Reservoir Spill Notification from PG&E  

“This is an advisory notification only.  Based on the upcoming storms and the James B. Black Power House Unit 1 outage, PG&E may be spilling McCloud Reservoir over the weekend. With the amount of rain forecasted, the unusually high flows on the McCloud River are expected to last through the end of next week”.

PGE logo



fly fishing McCloud Reservoir

Still one of our favorite photos of McCloud Reservoir with fly fishing guide Greg Dean making the cast from his red jet boat. His wife Kimmer captured this awesome shot.


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Northern California Fly Fishing Guides



Nor Cal Fish Report October 2016

There is no question that fall in Northern California has settled and taken up residence while overtaking the higher elevations and slowly infiltrating the parched valleys below.  Temperatures have cooled the mornings and evenings.  The heat of summer has left us basking in the glorious season of seasons.  Plus a heavy weather system is en route.  We are excited, are you?

sunset over Redding, CA

The weather, fishing opportunities, fall colors, cool mornings and spectacular sunsets are all great in October.  The list of greatness in this month is longer than a California Steelhead Report Card.  If we became President we would make October three to four months longer for all to enjoy.  Vote for Kennedy! Ha, yeah right.  This may not mean as much to others as it does to us, but with October also comes postseason major league baseball.  San Francisco Giants Baseball!  San Francisco Giants logoIt’s often asked in the North state whats the difference between Giants hotdogs and others teams hotdogs? Giants hotdogs are available in October!  There is still a long rough road to the World Series and first we have to get through the plagued Chicago Cubs, the team that is most synonymous with losing.  Sounds easy right?  The Cubs haven’t won a World Season since 1908 and haven’t even played in one since 1945.  Despite the final outcome, we still relish in the Giants making it in 2016.  This years Cubs have proved to be a formidable force to be reckoned with, and their talent is stacked deep. They are one of the most complete teams to come through baseball in quite a while.  We kind of have a soft spot with the Cubs as we grew up listening to Harry Carary and the famous seventh stretch rendition of “Take Me Out To The Ball Game.”  *The Chicago Cubs beat the San Francisco Giants in the 9th inning of game four. Uggg.  Well, at least we still have steelhead.



Weather: There is a storm a brewing!

We’ve enjoyed a ridiculously amazing fall season so far, and we have even been blessed by a decent rain storm earlier in the month which helped kick off the celebrations and the coming of the steelhead. We are as giddy as schoolboys as we head straight into our super busy season.  There is a major system brewing in the Pacific, and the forecast confidence is HIGH.  As with the San Francisco Giants, we are going to have to wait to see what really happens as the storm approaches Northern California.  One thing is for sure though: this baby is opening up the storm door leaving the opportunity for an early onset of precipitation far after the first front hits.  cloud with rain icon

National Weather Service Weather Summary



Lower Sacramento River:

Just as the Cubs are synonymous to losing in October, the Lower Sac is synonymous with the salmon egg bite this month.  Yeah, it can be a good time to fish the river but it’s also the most popular time and the river is commonly overrun with every guide and fly angler within driving distance.  It’s not nearly as good it used to be.  It wasn’t that long ago the river was quiet and the community was small.  But all things change, and one thing is for sure, we are fortunate to have this impressive year round trout factory.  If we all take care of it maybe it will survive the current wave of pressure it’s been receiving and continue to produce memories and enjoyment for the generations to come.

chinook salmon eggs

Overall the river has been fishing good to great with some inconsistency throughout the week.  Fishing suffered to a degree on days where the water flows were not steady or dropping.  Also the aquatic weed hatch will continue to increase which isn’t a major problem but be sure to check your flies and remove all debris.  On days where an abnormal amount of weeds are cut loose it seems to effect the overall bite.   Caddis have still been pumping particularly well on the warmer days and seem to be more prolific on most sections of the river after noon.  Although in some stretches they are available almost all day especially near heavily oxygenated water.  fish don't drive posterSmall mayfly and decent midge hatches have littered the river sporadically these past few weeks.  One point of interest this last week which we don’t remember encountering this time of year was a flying ant hatch.  Although it didn’t bring the monsters up it did provide some excellent dry fly opportunities in the shallows and flats particularly near the edges.  Not sure if anyone looked up from the indicators and noticed but hopefully some got in on the action.  Getting away from the old bobbers and cannon balls is always a sweet treat.

The egg bite and the amount of salmon above the Barge Hole has been light although gradually increasing.  Not to say it isn’t happening here and there but its definitely worth noting the lack of salmon in the upper system.  Typically by this time we have more established salmon redd’s and more active chinook spawning.  The salmon are far and few between but there should be more coming up the system.  Expect this year to be especially light compared to previous years.  After talking with several sources with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife it looks like many of the chinook salmon destined for the cool riffles of the upper section near Redding appeared to have taken a detour.  It is suspected that the trucking of fish down river in previous years, attempting to increase salmon survival rates numbers, may have caused the fish to imprint on rivers further down in the system like the Feather and the American rivers.


Chinook salmon and fly fishing

So there might not be as many salmon in the Sacramento River spawning this October but they are still around. Check out this fly caught chinook from down river!



Trinity River

The Trinity has fish!  Although conditions are not currently prime, pressure from anglers seeking steelhead has been light.  Most of the salmon guys these last few weeks have been out on the river by day break and haven’t been a factor.  Nymphing, swinging and dry fly fishing fishing have been productive for anglers and guides able to find fish.  There have been pods of both wild and hatchery fish moving up through the system with some large fish showing.  One hatchery fished that reached the hatchery earlier was taped at a whopping 43 inches!  That’s one big fish and one helluva bbq!  The best success for swinging has been below Junction City with the best results coming from below the gorge.  There are fish spread out from the top of the system all the way down to the confluence with the Klamath.

The Trinity is low and clear.  Stealth, long leaders and smaller flies come to mind.  For boaters, be aware of new obstacles.  The river has changed in a few spots and could pose serious threats to anglers not ready for the changes.  Look for conditions to improve after this next storm system and for fish to head into river.  There are also a ton of smolt balls around so be prepared to deal with the little guys, they are voracious and attack.  Take the time to treat them correctly and ensure their survival.  The best part of October on the Trinity? Shorts, sandals and swinging for steelhead!

fly fishing guide with steelhead

Shorts, sandals and swinging for steelhead!




caddis-october-caddis-larva_fotor caddisfly-october-caddis-pupa_fotor

Like to fish big dries? Now through mid-November can be a great time on the Upper Sac, McCloud and other rivers in Northern California to throw the big bug.  Target late evenings and hitch a dropper off the back for a deadly little twist.


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The One That Got Away From Chuck

Every so often in the fly fishing game you come across a particular fish or run that will haunt you. The haunting often comes because the fish can’t be caught or because maybe you’ve managed to trick the fish into eating your fly only to have it break you off or throw the hook.  Either way, the proverbial fish that got away keeps you coming back if it doesn’t drive you crazy first.  One of our good friends Chuck has a particular run he likes to fish at a particular time. There is one fish that has eluded Chuck many times so he comes to visit his fish for about a week straight and studies him as he begins to slurp down caddis in the surface film when the the sun leaves the water.  It’s a love affair that has grown over the years and as Chuck has become a proficient angler, the fish in this run to say the least have become very savvy to any angler attempting to even get close.  The fish that resides on the far bank is not the biggest in the river but because of the location in the current it is a very difficult spot to get a good dead drift.  With a dry fly it requires getting the fly at least 10 to 15 feet upstream with a series of perfect mends and line feeds while also allowing the fly to drift well past the target before being picked up.  One bad cast or missed mend and the fish usually go down and its worthwhile to pick and move to another location .  Typically, like pictured below after a good presentation one of the unseen rainbow minions grab the offering which offer a consolation prize but also spooks the run and put the wiser fish down.

trout in hand rod in mouth

Meet Chuck, and the fish he wasn’t going for although Chuck is delighted with anything pulling on the other end of the line. Chuck enjoys the pursuit and everybody involved loves the Chucky factor.


One evening Chuck was making crisp casts and presenting the fly cleanly to the far bank with impeccable precision.  As Chuck took his time watching the rhythm of the rises we took some video knowing it was finally going to happen.  Chuck took 3 or 4 minions from the edges and patiently waited for the nose he was hunting to show back up while letting the run rest and watching the insects drift down the far seam. After numerous attempts we started running out of storage on the memory card and it appeared that Chuck was going to have to come back tomorrow and try his hand at another river poker game.  With the camera off of course Chuck’s next cast just like the one before that and the one before hit the target and drifted flawlessly into the impossible seam.  Boom! Fish on! Watch what happens next….



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Northern California Trout and Steelhead


10 Essential Items For Fly Fishing in Kamchatka

So you’ve succumbed to the stories and reports of the fantastic fly fishing and booked a trip to Kamchatka, or maybe you’re embarking on a journey to a similarly remote fishing destination.  Do you have everything you need?  We can help.

Russian Rainbow TroutPacking for such an adventure can be a daunting and intimidating task.  By now, you probably have received a mile long packing list of items that you may or may not need.  It is very easy to overpack, and minimalists, in an attempt to shed some frivolous pounds, often skip a few necessities.  The last thing you want to do is forget a key item that could put a damper in you trip, so here are a few things that are “must haves” when en route to the Motherland and similar locations around the globe.

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Fish your Feet

We bush wacked our way downstream into the flat where we could see heads softly nudging and sipping the PMD spinners under the elephant ear. And of course, the fish consistently rising were on the far bank.  It was easily a 50 foot cast, which was at the extreme end of my clients powerhouse.  The problem would be in achieving the perfect drift in the flat velvety water even if the fly hit it’s target.  Immediately my client wanted to deliver a cast. I told him to wait and lets just see what else we are missing. I knew if we made a cast to the fish on the far bank we would most likely spook the entire flat and particularly the fish that might be in between.  As we sat there, the fish on the far bank continued in synchronicity, gently sipping and following into rhythm while throughly taunting us.  My client was like a quivering labrador retriever and those fish were the tennis ball that was just thrown across the river, he couldn’t focus on anything but the prize on the very far side.  I couldn’t blame him, they were getting to me too.  I could feel his impatient desire to get it done and at the same point also slowly starting to loath his guide.  I wanted those fish on the far side but I wanted to pick several opportunities and turn this flat from a one fish run into a multiple fish run.  Several minutes into the silent recon a subtle head showed in the shallows behind a small rock on our side, a small lie that looked too shallow to provide enough protection to hold fish. Thirty more seconds and another rise on our side but from another fish. The fish on our side had slow rhythm and only broke the surface every 3 to 5 minutes but they were there and they were moving around. If we would of waded out for the fish on the far side we would have never seen them.  We lengthened our leader by putting on some fresh Rio Tippet, pulled out some extra fly line and devised our plan of attack on the fish closest to us.  It would be a one cast shot, high sticked and then the rod dropped followed by an all out feed maximizing our stealthy drift without notifying other fish we hadn’t seen.  His first cast fell short and I hastily blurted, leave it!  He followed through with our plan even though it didn’t reach its destination and bam!  A nice fish slapped his dry fly, fish on. I let out a silent sigh of relief.  We kept the rod tip downstream and towards the bank and angled the fish towards us and away from the others.  We admired the moment and the freckled rainbow with a small dry fly hanging from the upper mandible.  We continued this game and started playing “battleship.”  A-1, A-2, A-3 and so on.  We were able to get 6 different fish to take our fly with a few refusals.  Eventually 30 minutes or more later we were at the fish on the far side.  He made one of the best casts of the day and hit the target. But in attempting to make the mend to the far side in order to get the perfect drift he spooked the wily fish.  It was an almost impossible shot. We let them rest and changed our attack but they never took our fly that day.  Fish your feet, be patient and work slowly into a run.  And most important enjoy the hunt and everything it encompasses.

Fly fisherman high stick fishing in the McCloud River on Bollibokka

Notice the small burble on the surface of water just below the anglers line? This was just enough to hold a few fish before we attacked the small seam under the elephant ear on the far side.


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Northern California Fly Fishing Guides

Trout and Steelhead


Final Day for many Coastal Rivers

Today is the final fishing day for many of our coastal drainages here in Northern California. It was a phenomenally great season and more importantly, although it hindered fishing, we at last received enough water to allow safe passage to our anadromous friends!  They needed it desperately. Take a few minutes and check out the video from Cal Trout on some of the restoration projects going on our coast. If it speaks to you, we encourage you to get involved either locally or maybe on your favorite river.  Thanks for another great season!


Fish Kennedy Brothers

Northern California Fly Fishing Guides

Trout and Steelhead

The Sacramento River is Closed to Fishing?

Don’t believe the headlines, because just like that, shear terror is unleashed and countless dollars in revenue are lost and never recovered as fraudulent stories circulate.  It’s not just fishing guides who miss out on their prime time to make ends meet, but the trickle down economic factor sends shock waves all the way through the communities and tourism based businesses that thrive on this ridiculously rich and renewable resource of catch and release fishing that the City of Redding has become home to.  “Redding has some of the best fishing I’ve seen anywhere in the world, and I use to live in Montana and Alaska,” Robert Bailey remarked, as we strolled down the Sundial Bridge snapping photo’s of the drift boats hooked up on wild rainbow trout under our feet.

Don’t believe the headlines, the media is going to try to shove this one down your news feeds, but don’t buy it.  Is it true there is a fishing closure? Yes, there will be a temporary emergency closure for a very small section of the river and we’ll give you the details below, straight from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).  Is this going to effect my fishing trip on the Sacramento River?  Absolutely not.  In fact, after a prosperous wet season with many of our drainages receiving above average rainfall and snow pack totals, this is going to be one of the years fishing in Northern California that you will not want to miss out on.

winter run chinook salmon i

Plagued by years of abuse from dams, mining, agriculture, drought, commercial fishing, hatcheries, extreme habitat loss and poor ocean conditions the Sacramento River winter-run chinook salmon face extinction.  Chinook salmon, also known as “king salmon,” are without question the undisputed royalty of California waters.

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Enjoy the View and the Adventure

You can’t make the river flow any faster, so you might as well slow down and enjoy the view. Fish Kennedy Brothers


“Look, do you see that?” I said while breaking the quietude as my client remained laser focused, head down with extreme execution staring into Continue reading