Arguably The Worlds Most Iconic Trout Stream

The mountains are stacked and packed in resplendent white and the lower valley’s are tasting the first flavors of spring as Northern California slowly inches out of the clenches of a truly heavy and wild winter.  Many rivers are still high or too muddy to fish.  But in the months to come that will all change as the weather settles down.  The parched State of California has water for the first time in five years which should make for great fishing and adventures through summer and into the fall season.  With the massive onslaught of precipitation, we have lost the old reliable Lower Sacramento River in Redding to dirty water as Lake Shasta is filled to the brim with muddy water.  It may be a while before it gets back some of its clarity.  When that happens is anybody’s guess, even though the Bureau of Reclamation reports that the water releases out of Keswick Dam will be reduced to 13,900 cfs by Saturday, March 11th.

Our mainstay for guide trips the last month or so, has been the Trinity River.  Although, overall fish numbers have been down compared to previous years, it has been a godsend and has produced fantastic days for our guests.  If we had to choose a bunch of fish with a bunch of fisherman or fewer fish with fewer anglers, we choose the latter.  To be honest, fishing has been challenging on the Trinity some days, but its been real steelhead fishing, giving us opportunity to teach our craft and do things differently. It has been a welcomed change.  The Trinity River looks to be the best option for float trips this March, which is one of our favorite months over there.  It is truly a magic time as insect hatches increase and spring starts to pop.  Grab you’re favorite guide this month and book a trip with them.  This winter has been rough for the guide community and we know a trip with their favorite clients can help tremendously.  Get outside and put in some river time, you’re soul will thank you.

Middle Falls on the McCloud River Painting by Janet Franco Velez

The point of this post wasn’t intended as a fish report but it was about the famous McCloud River, America’s iconic trout stream.  This time of year as seasons change, more rivers open and become viable opportunities.  This is when we start dreaming about the change in venues.  Currently we are planning excursions for our own adventures.  The Green River float/camp trip, the Owyhee River 6 day upper float and a multi-day whitewater adventure on Oregon’s Illinois River are in the crosshairs.  It also includes floats on the rivers flowing into Lake Shasta as they typically have a short window for being floatable and prime for fishing conditions (click for a closer look at the Upper Sac Float Trip).

Mt. Shasta, from McCloud River Painting by Thomas Hill

One river that never seems to go away is the McCloud.  Imagine what it might have looked like before the dams changed the river forever. Imagine an Alaska type scene being played out, a river teeming with thousands of salmon and steelhead, swimming and spawning in its mint Listerine colored water. Doesn’t that sounds like a special kind of heaven?  We didn’t know the river as it used to be, in fact very few are alive today to share the first hand stories about what the river used to be.  Recently we lost one of our clients and good friend Peter, who shared stories about fishing the McCloud River in the pre-dam era.  Young Peter would take a train up the valley from the city and spend 2 weeks every year exploring the untamed McCloud River canyon with a fly rod.  They would go up and fish the Sacramento River and at Simms they would take a pack train of mules and horses and tote their gear over the mountain into the mysterious waters of the mighty McCloud.  His stories were something out of a dream and they captivated us beyond explanation.  But the sadness in his eyes of watching a wild river shrivel up and change forever was painful.  You could feel the enormous weight of loss as he told his stories about one of the most magical rivers of the world.  Take a minute and watch the video below from CalTrout that shares the story of the McCould River today and what it used to be.  There is currently a big movement to deregulate the laws in place to protect many of our rivers and the clean water that ensures their existence.  When is enough, enough?


How Can I Get Involved?

-Join CalTrout and help produce more awareness and protection for our rivers in California like the McCloud River  CalTrout.Org

-Join Trout Unlimited. We currently have a new chapter in Northern California: Shasta Trinity Cascades.  We need your help.

Fish Kennedy Brothers

Northern California Fly Fishing Guides


Is Lake Shasta Going To Overflow?

Unless you live somewhere else other than the West Coast, then you’re fully aware of the recent deluge and so-called “atmospheric river” that has blasted many parts across the western front of the United States.  In the five-year, drought stricken State of California, water is flowing incessantly from every nook and cranny, gushing water into the parched and thirsty landscapes.  It is a welcome reprieve but at the same time is it too much? Can our archaic water systems and infrastructure take it?  Lake Shasta, from water officials, say the reservoir received approximately  73,472,653,908 gallons of water in 24 hours! Yep, that’s billions.


Widespread flooding, road closures, mud slides and evacuations have plagued much of the state this week with even talk of many reservoirs overflowing as more water is flowing into them than is physically able to flow out.  Some dams and spillways are going to be able to handle the almost biblical proportions of water coming downstream and some are not.

APTOPIX Damaged Dam

The Oroville Dam Spillway in California is a prime example of a reservoir that is unable to release enough water to accommodate the amount of water coming in. This week, due to the outdated infrastructure, the spillway flowing out of Lake Oroville and into the Feather River has failed and will probably be completely eroded in the next few days. Time will tell.  There is an emergency spillway but there is no concrete and it’s never been used, so officials are only guessing what the outcome will be.


The image on the right shows the damage done to the spillway after the hole was noticed and flows were sent down to test the spillway.  As you can see the hole is massive and is eroding under and the sides of the spillway.  Although we have no hard facts to back up this was actually 2013 but it looks like there were known issues with the spillway previous to the recent damage.  Hindsight is always 20/20.  There is going to be a lot of finger-pointing going on but lets just hope the damage downstream in minimized for all involved.

The newscast below goes over more details on the Oroville Dam situation regarding the damaged spillway and emergency spillway that possibly will be used to mitigate and direct overflowing water away from the dam if needed.  What is going to happen to the people, infrastructure and ecosystems below?


A great glimpse of what is going on for those not familiar with the Oroville Dam Spillway situation. The latest news briefings say that they may not have to use emergency spillway if rain stops and increasing water from the power plant which has been running below it maximum output.


In the next video notice the fresh clearing of trees and brush on the top of the emergency spillway path.  This will give you a better real-time aerial look at the current damn dam ( or rather spillway) situation.

Lake Shasta

Now that we’ve taken a look at Oroville lets take a look at whats going up at Shasta Lake.  We are going to start this one off with a look back in the 1970’s when Shasta Lake filled up and came over the top.

“This is archival footage from KIXE from I believe the Spring of 1978 (or was it 1979?) when Shasta Lake overflowed the dam after the infamous 1976-1977 drought. At the time experts had said Shasta Lake could never recover in just one year, but it did.”

You gotta love the music and over feeling to this oldie.  This is an absolute classic! Sit back and enjoy!

Early this morning the lake passed the 10′ foot to the top mark on Shasta Dam.  Between midnight of Feb 8th and midnight of Feb 9th, the lake shot up 10′ and it continues to steadily climb about a 1/4 of a foot an hour for the past several hours. Some interesting facts from the previous storm(s) near Lake Shasta:

– Highest inflow this season was recorded was midnight last night at the rate of 171,700 CFS (1,284,405 gallons per second)!

– 10′ Increase between 00:00 02/08 and 00:00 02/09 at an increase of 225,479 acre feet of water (73,472,653,908 gallons of water in 24 hours)!

– The last time we were at this level was June 2, 2012  (Came within
2.5 feet from full pool in 2012)

– McCloud location has received 19.12″ of rain month to date, 47.26″ year to date.

It’s unlikely that Lake Shasta will overflow in the next few days but the future will be in the hands of Mother Nature and the amount of precipitation we receive after this event. Commencing today, the Bureau of Reclamation will start ramping up flows out of the dam in order to make room for the incoming flows.  Unlike Lake Oroville, Shasta Dam was designed to overflow due to the excessive amounts of rainfall the area above the dam can receive in wet years.  If you have ever experienced one of these events you know how impressive they can be. The releases from Shasta into Keswick and into the Lower Sacramento River will jump to 50K cubic feet per second today, 60K by Saturday and  70K by Sunday. This is in order to meet the regulations for flood control and allow more water to go out than is coming in and keep Lake Shasta from overflowing while also giving flood protection from below Shasta and Keswick Dams.

Scheduled Releases out of Keswick Dam near Redding, CA.

-Friday:               50,000 CFS

-Saturday:          60,000 CFS

-Sunday:             70,000CFS

What do you think? Will Lake Shasta Overflow?



A current look at reservoir conditions for the State of California. There is more blue than we have seen in a long time!


*Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko has closed the Sacramento River to boating and other recreation  due to higher than normal water releases from Shasta and Keswick dams. The closure does not  apply to lakes and will be rescinded once conditions are safe.  







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Northern California Fly Fishing Guides


Lower Sacramento River Goes Huge!

After a five year drought for much of the West, we have finally received copious amounts of precipitation in Northern California. Is it time to start building an ark? Perhaps. We have been getting hammered with more water than we know what to do with.  The reservoirs are filling faster then they can let water out.  So in order to meet flood space regulatory requirements in Shasta Lake, flow releases will be increasing to extraordinary high levels.


*These flows will make the Lower Sacramento River below Keswick Dam through Redding to to the Sacramento San Joaquin Delta extremely dangerous!!*

“People recreating in or along the lower American River downstream of Folsom Dam to the confluence of the American and Sacramento rivers can expect river levels to increase and should take appropriate safety precautions,” the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation said in a news release.

Releases to the Sacramento River have ranged from approximately 3,300 cfs (DWR, 2011) during drought periods and 79,000 cfs during flood events (DWR,1974) so this a major event we have not seen too often.

The Bureau of Reclamation has scheduled flow increases ramping up from today, February 9th, through this Sunday.

Scheduled Releases out of Keswick Dam near Redding, CA.

-Friday:               50,000 CFS

-Saturday:          60,000 CFS

-Sunday:             70,000CFS!


*Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko has closed the Sacramento River to boating and other recreation due to higher than normal water releases from Shasta and Keswick dams.  The closure does not  apply to lakes and will be rescinded once conditions are safe.  

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Northern California Fly Fishing Guides


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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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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Fly Fishing Guides in Redding , CA



11th Annual Redding Community Creek Clean-up on the Sacramento River

Come join our local community on Saturday, October 1, 2016, from 8:00 AM – Noon, as we tackle the litter and invasive vegetation that has become overgrown and reduces visibility of the Sacramento River.


Creek Cleanup 2016 will focus on the north side of the Sacramento River Trail, between the Market Street Bridge and the Arboretum Trailhead.

During these four short hours, hundreds of volunteers will gather to help remove trash and invasive vegetation, opening up the view of the River along this section of the Sacramento River Trail.

This year, the Shasta Trinity Fly Fishers will lead a river-based clean-up effort. Volunteers with jet boats will be on the water retrieving debris from areas not accessible by land.

Bring your water bottle, wear closed toe shoes, long pants, plenty of sunscreen, and come out and help restore the riparian savannah along the Sacramento River Trail. You can make a substantial contribution in the heart of Redding during a single morning of labor involving hundreds of your fellow citizens.

Event organizers will have gloves, safety goggles, buckets, and garden tools available for use.  Please bring your own if you have them.

ph: (530) 225-4512


Sacramento River Trail
Registration/Check In – 1500 Quartz Hill Rd.
Redding, CA 96003

learn more button

Refreshments sponsored by Shasta Association of REALTORS and Dutch Bros.


Shasta Trinity Fly Fishers logo

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Fly Fishing Guides in Redding , CA

Fly Fishing Film Tour Comes to Redding!

Come down to the Redding Civic Auditorium this November 3rd 2016 at 7PM!  Get your tickets, bring some friends and kick back with a beer and enjoy the show.  F3T is nearly a decade deep and this event helps support our local Trout Unlimited Shasta Trinity Cascade Chapter. Come out and show your support!

The original and preeminent exhibition of fly fishing cinema, The F3T is a one of a kind experience. Each year, fishy folk of all ages gather at premieres to soak up films from around the world, spin a few yarns amongst friends, and dream about casts still unmade. Since its inception in 2007 The F3T has grown more than 30% each year; reaching nearly 50,000 anglers across North America last season. 2016 marks the F3T’s 10th lap around North America and this year’s lineup of films is without question the best the Tour has ever presented! f3tlogoWith backdrops ranging from Bolivia to Saskatchewan, Montana to Virginia, Patagonia to the Seychelles, these films feature fresh, dynamic stories amongst some of the best fishing footage that has ever been shot. From the hunt for the world’s largest brook trout to the pursuit of billfish on the fly, gargantuan pike, acrobatic golden dorado, ferocious GTs and herculean BC steelhead, these films showcase remarkable places, larger than life characters, and fish that will haunt your dreams. This year’s film festival is brought to you by Trout Unlimited Shasta Trinity Cascades Chapter. This newly formed chapter joins over 750 chapters nationwide to protect vital fishing habitat. Come to find out more about plans for the new chapter and how to become involved in our incredible local resources.



Fly Fishing Film Tour

Redding Civic Auditorium

7:00 PM November 3rd 2016 





Watch Some Trailers







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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


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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Trout and Steelhead