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


Trinity River February 2017

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


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.


Fish Kennedy Brothers

Fly Fishing Guides in Redding , CA



Fly Fishing Northern California in the Wettest Winter in 5 Years

Recent downpours of heavy rain for the month of March so far have sent lake levels in the Northstate through the roof and still we are not done yet.  Will Shasta Lake overflow?  There is a good chance if we can keep pace.  Officials said it would take at least three years to fill up California’s largest reservoir but it’s happening at a much quicker rate than expected.

rainbow trout on Sacramento River during rain

We endured monsoon like conditions during the storm events and even found some nice trout and solitude.

Early Monday morning, Shasta Lake was at 79% of capacity and 103% of historical average for this time of year which puts us on a good path towards reaching peak levels and possibly over flowing it’s spillways with future storms and snow melt.

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Nor Cal’s Weather and River Update: March 6th 2016

Nothing haunts me more than the beasts that live in the emerald green waters.  But the hunt is going to have to wait.  At least for now.


The mysterious unicorn.

Much of the West Coast has received copious amount of rainfall in the past 48 hours.  Currently, most rivers are high and not fishable, except for a small handful of tailwaters fisheries up near the dam. Oh and lakes too.  There are a few dandies out there right now if you’re willing to partake in the changing weather conditions.  The Trinity was hardly fishable at the top end of the drainage above Rush Creek and the Lower Sac was fishable today but saw severe winds which made boat accessibility down right dangerous.  Brutal beyond belief.  The Lower Sac had fishable water down to I-5 but saw extremely dirty water from the mouth of Churn Creek down.  More moisture is on the way and it will determine the outlook for this next week.  So far it’s looking like a great week for more rain which we still need.

It might be a good time to find a great book and sit by a warm fire!  Has anybody read these?

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Got Trout and Steelhead?

The two weeks of delightful hiatus free from the wicked clenches of El Niño’s wet spell was an unspeakable dream, but we are ecstatic to report he’s back again and hopefully with a vengeance.  For those of you who joined us on the rivers during the short sleeve section of February, you lucked out, and we hope you appreciated the fantabulous fishing and the warmest winter steelhead fishing known to man.  The surplus of both vitamin D and chrome unicorns was truly a special event.  We apologize for having you bring all that Gore-tex and quality Simms gear, but maybe next time we’ll have to use it.  It’s common for El Niño years to harbor warmer weather in the Winter months; it doesn’t always translate for the hardcore weather sessions that we envision.  You never know, so always be prepared for any weather condition Mother Nature can wheel at you when you are outdoors this time of year, regardless of the forecast.  Speaking of water, how much do we have?



In this report we are going to be looking at current conditions for fly fishing Northern California, including the Lower Sacramento River and Trinity River for both trout and steelhead.  We’ll also take a peek at drought stats, road conditions, river flows, fish hatcheries and at an exciting new chapter of Trout Unlimited starting in Redding. There’s some river news and a little something addressing  “on the water” ethics as well.

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Northern California Trout and Steelhead Report

The predicted El Niño of 2016 has shown it’s soaking potential, dropping much needed precipitation across the West Coast. Rain, sleet, and snow and typical winter storms have had their affects on waterways and roads leaving a trail of swollen rivers and treacherous highways in their wake, confirming that winter steelheading is not for the faint of heart. If you are up to the challenges and ready to face the caveats, rewards are present for the taking.

A fresh California Steelhead that was caught on a dropping river after a large storm

A fresh California Steelhead that was caught on a dropping river after a large storm

We’ll try to keep this one cut and dry, unlike the current weather forecast for the State of Jefferson. The Trinity river has been Continue reading

Feast, Famine and Fish Reports

The Dust Bowl or “The Dirty Thirties” was a severe drought that affected over 100,000,000 acres in the corners of Texas and Oklahoma and touched adjacent sections of New Mexico, Colorado, and Kansas. Maybe you remember reading John Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath” or “Of Mice and Men?”  The phenomenon forced tens of thousands of families to abandon their farms and homes. Many of these families, who were often known as “Okies” because so many of them came from Oklahoma, migrated to the golden hills of California only to figure out that the Great Depression had left economic conditions there little better than those they had left. More than 500,000 were left homeless due to the drought and conditions created by it. The US population in 1935 was 127.3 million, California today is over 38.8 million. The Dust Bowl affected area of 100,000,000 acres is close in proximity to the size of California which has a total land and water area of 104,765,440 acres. So what is California and the West going to do?  Is history going to repeat itself?


Migrant Mother, Florence Owens Thompson escaped the drought by heading to California. She was 32 and mother of seven.  Are Californians on their way back to Oklahoma?

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The Steelhead Are Here!!!

The rains have come in large amounts here in Northern California.  The rivers are swollen, high and off color, battered by the recent snow and rainfall, blown out by most accounts.  A steelhead fisherman, an optimist by origin, holds a different outlook.  Where one warms by the fire with frozen toes and fingers deflated, cold, and cracked, waders frozen or even worse off, hanging in the corner, a new air of life is breathed into ones soul in stormy times.  They are coming, an army of silver apparitions riding waves of muddy, leaf and debris speckled water in search of their natal birthplace.

Winter Steelhead on the Trinity River are big and bright and they are here!

Winter Steelhead on the Trinity River are big and bright and they are here!

El Niño is here and the “little boy” has brought friends Continue reading