Lower Sac |
Putah Creek |
South Fork Snake
The Lower Sacramento River
The Lower Sac is California's best trout fishery. The cold consistent flows out of Lake Shasta create an ideal habitat for rainbow trout and steelhead to grow big and strong. I use a Hyde drift boat to access the riffles and runs between Redding and Red Bluff. With over 40 floatable miles, this tailwater is fishable almost every day of the year.
The spring is a beautiful time of year with 70-degree weather and big, consistent hatches of caddis. During this period we often see our highest catch rates as the trout feed heavily on caddis pupae.
The summer time brings in hot weather (often over 100 degrees), but the cold, clear water keeps the angler cool and the trout feeding. Summer is often the best time to get these feisty rainbows on caddis dries in the evening.
As summer comes to an end and fall sets in, the weather cools, and the first salmon of the year start to migrate into the river to spawn. As the salmon start to spawn, all of the trout in the river take notice. The trout move into the riffles to gorge themselves on eggs. This is by far the most popular time of the year as anglers from all over the country try to get in on the Egg Bite.
The fall is also the time of year we chase big steelhead down into the lower stretches of the river. When hooked, these steelhead consistently take clients into their backing several times in a single fight.
As winter takes over California, the river sees the last run of salmon and consistent hatches of mayflies. This is often when we catch our largest rainbow trout. Low flows on the river and a mixture of eggs and mayflies commonly fool large trout in the 20-25 inch range.
As you can see, the Lower Sac is truly a special place all year long. If you call yourself a fly fisher and have never experienced this fishery, you definitely need to experience this premier fly fishing destination.
The Feather River
The Feather is California's most phenomenal Central Valley steelhead river. Below Lake Oroville, this tailwater is open all year long, but we focus on this fishery in the fall and spring. I use my Hyde drift boat to access the river between Oroville and Gridley.
Steelhead fishing here peaks around mid-October and stays consistent through late November. During this time of year, we find steelhead sitting behind salmon redds waiting for their next meal. On the Feather it's quite common to hook and land over 10 steelhead in a day. Very few rivers in the country can boast of steelhead numbers like those found on the Feather River. Most of the steelhead we catch weigh between 3-7 pounds, but every year we hook fish that top the 10-pound mark.
In the spring, the river gets a large consistent run of half-pounders that feed heavily on caddis and mayfly nymphs. From mid-March through April we chase these half-pounders with 5/6-weight fly rods. There are even a few opportunities to get these juvenile steelhead on dry flies in the evenings. If you have never fought and caught a steelhead or have struggled on other traditional steelhead rivers, then I recommend you book yourself a trip to some epic California steelheading.
The Yuba River
Just north of Marysville on Highway 20, you will find some of the strongest fighting rainbows and steelhead found anywhere. On the Yuba River each and every fish tests the angler's abilities and gear. This river is a classic tailwater fishery with many techniques proving successful. Over the course of the year clients have the opportunity to throw dry flies, streamers, and nymphs. We spend equal time between wading and drifting the clear cold waters of the river.
During the fall, bright steelhead and resident rainbows eat salmon eggs and nymph patterns behind spawning salmon. Prime dry fly fishing starts to peak in mid-February and lasts through May. The hatches progress over the spring starting with Skwala stoneflies, March Browns, PMD's, PED's, and caddis.
This is one of California's few fisheries that allows anglers to consistently cast dry flies to rising fish. Along with dries and nymphs, clients strip streamers in the deeper runs enticing larger trout out from the depths. The Yuba River is a true gem in California's wild trout and steelhead fisheries, so book a trip to test your skills against these burly fish.
Putah Creek is one of California's best kept secrets. Only those folks living in the near vicinity know of the huge rainbows and browns that call this water home. Putah is a small tailwater fishery located about 15 miles north of Vacaville. The cold, consistent flow out of Lake Berryessa has created a huge concentration of slippery, moss-covered rocks full of bug life. The creation of this tailwater and the large population of mayflies, caddis, and midges have caused the trout to grow fat and healthy. Over the last several years, trout over 18 inches have become common.
Putah Creek is similar to the famous waters of the Rockies where big fish eat small bugs. Only the most dedicated of anglers will fool these intelligent trout.
In the fall, we chase big browns and rainbows entering Putah Creek from Lake Solano. These big trout hold in the deep holes on the lower reaches of the creek, waiting for an easy meal.
Winter time fishing on Putah is when the water is at its lowest and the fish are consistently eating baetis and midges. This is the best time of year to be able to sight fish to selective trout. Winter fishing will truly test your angling ability.
Spring and summer triggers the trout to heavy feeding on caddis hatches, and often times we get fish rising to dry flies in the evenings. If big trout is what you're after, then you need to get out on this water. Book a trip to learn all the secret mysteries of this diamond in the rough.
The South Fork of The Snake River
The South Fork of the Snake in Swan Valley, Idaho is one of the finest dry fly rivers in the country. I have spent my whole life searching for the perfect dry fly water, and the South Fork is simply the best I?ve ever fished. Every day of the year, a fly fisher can find large cutthroat, rainbow, and brown trout rising to some form of dry fly.
The South Fork is a tailwater fishery with consistent regulated flows coming out of Palisades Reservoir. With over 60 floatable miles, we use drift boats to access the numerous braided channels and back eddies. Plus, there are ample opportunities at wading as most riffles and runs are loaded with fish.
From the second week in June with the huge Salmon Fly hatch to the Chernobyle Ant hatch that lasts well into September, there is awesome dry fly fishing all summer long. Because this river has prolific hatches of BIG flies and hoppers, we fish big dry fly patterns almost every day. However, there are times when blankets of PMD?s and Mahogany Duns will cover the water. Then we find big fish eating small flies in the flats and tailouts. The mayfly hatches on the South Fork are truly magical, and during these periods it seems as though every trout in the river is looking up.
The South Fork is a place every fly fisher should experience. If you crave the visual excitement of large trout rising to huge dry flies, then the South Fork is for you. This summer I?ll be guiding it exclusively out of the Orvis-endorsed Lodge at Palisades Creek, located right on the banks of the river. Book your trip early to secure an amazing experience on this dry fly fishing nirvana.
"He told us about Christ's disciples being fisherman, and we were left to assume...that all great fishermen on the Sea of Galilee were fly fisherman and that John, the favorite, was a dry-fly fisherman."
Norman Maclean from A River Runs Through It