Fishing Reports for Northern California
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We have just set the dates for our 2017 Guide School. It will start Memorial Day Weekend and runs Saturday to Saturday, May 27th through June 3rd. Dax Messett, Gino Bernero, and Andrew Harris will be the primary instructors.
Our goal is to give our students a solid foundation of fly fishing skills, the ability to teach those skills in a guided fishing or clinic environment, and the knowledge to chart a course toward becoming a successful fly fishing guide. During this intense 7-day program you will be exposed to many guides with varying perspectives on their profession. You will learn the techniques used to catch selective trout wherever they’re found. Most importantly, you’ll get plenty of chances to be the guide and learn what it’s all about.
During the week we spend time on many of the great fisheries of northern California, including Hat Creek, the Pit River, McCloud River, Fall River, the Lower Sac, and various smaller streams.
The cost for the week-long program is $1595 and includes the school, accommodations, all lunches, and two dinners.
The countdown is on for one last shot at a winter steelhead as we near the March 31st deadline. After that the Smith and Trinity Rivers will remain open. We had a brief window last week that saw almost all of our South County rivers come into play. I spent two hard days fishing the South Fork Eel with father and son team Tim and Dominic. We had everything you could hope for minus the fish. Great color, mild weather, and no pressure. Currently we're seeing another bout of wet weather that has everything turing brown, everything except for the Smith. These are some of the most enjoyable days to target these powerful sea run fish. Warm mild weather and light angling pressure make March a unequally special time to venture north in hopes of swining one up before the closing bell tolls.
If you're curious about more in depth fishining info or looking to book a trip feel free to call. 602 717 0315.
Father and son duo Tim and Dominic Bruno swinging the S. Fork Eel
Fresh lilies usher in Spring
Perfect color over the weekend with non existent pressure made for some relaxing days on the water
I fished the Smith earlier this week with a few friends and while none of us hooked up we were able to spot a few fish from the bank. It's getting to that point in the season where it can really pay off to focus on the upper river. Lot's of fish have made it in at this point and are queuing up to spawn. We even spied a few who were actively spawing and got to sit back and watch the show! The boat guys were doing well fishing the main stem below the forks with averages of 2-4 fish per boat.
We all had our fingers crossed for a prolonged dry spell letting some of our other rivers come into play, but just like that another system is projected to sack the coast this weekend keeping everything high and muddy. The Smith looks to rise several feet over the weekend with another push early next week. It should fish well as it falls through the end of next week into the weekend. Early spring ushers in some of the most enjoyable days to be on the water here on the North Coast. Warm day time temps and the first blooms of the season make those dreary winter days feel like a distant memory. I have open dates for those who are looking for a late season shot at sea run chrome!
Manzanita blossoms. The first signs of Spring.
Neil punches a cast on the upper Smith River
Spey rods and dry bags taking a load off after another hard day of fishing
Searching for signs of life
Yesterday I had the opportunity to get a day of fishing in on the Smith River with fellow angler and friend Colton Schwenning. It's been a wild winter season to put it mildly. We've had an unprecendented amount of rain, leaving most coastal rivers completely blown out for weeks on end. The Smith, which can rise and drop within a 24 hour cycle, has become our saving grace for a chance to swing up the much coveted winter run steelhead. Yet that is no easy propostition, especially on the Smith. The river is notoriously challenging to fish. It guards its secrets well, and I'm not just talking about the fish. Half of the battle on this system is finding the right water for swinging flies. The Smith is an incredibly deep river and has some extreme hydrology. Having an assortment of heavy sinking tips to really get that fly down to where the fish are is paramount to success. What do I mean by heavy tips? I like 13.5 ft of T-17 for most of the runs I'll cover in a given day, but I've gone up to 15ft for when I really want to dig em out!
Back to the other day. Bad weather was imminent. We could see the storm churning off the coast as we descended into Crescent City. We fished the lower river first, both hoping that after the recent rise and drop we might intercept a fresh push of fish coming out of the estuary. After an hour we decided to save ourselves the hassle of jockying for good water on the lower river and go above where the guide boats can access the river. The rain started coming down heavy and the temperature was falling rapidly, but the river was in perfect shape. It had fallen just below 12 feet at the Jedediah Smith park gauge and was holding color beautifully. Nothing can raise the spirits of a weary steelhead angler like the emerald glow of this river. We fished our way up the middle fork and lucked out on scoring a few choice runs to ourselves. Suddenly the rain turned to snow. It came down in big fluffy flakes through the canyon and soon it was hard to make out the ridgelines. We fished until our hands were frozen and we were soaked through and through. It had been a good day.
You don't always find them, but it's the pursuit and anticipation that make this sport so special. It can take you to places that you would never find yourself in otherwise. Always in the back of your mind is the memory of the last time one grabbed and the hopes that some day you will find that big scary fish to remember for a lifetime.
I have open dates through March for guided steelhead trips on the coast. There is still lots of great fishing ahead!
Colton firing another cast to the far bank on the Smith River.
Braving the elements. Steelheading in winter is like working for the postal service. Rain or shine.
A perfect Smith River hen. Fish like this are what its all about.
Snow day on the Smith.
We have just set our dates for Spey Camp 2017 on the Lower Klamath River. We are expanding our offerings to include shorter 2-night camps as well as our signature 4-day, 3-night camps. The 2-night camps are scheduled for Friday/Saturday/Sundays with arrival mid-day on Friday and mid-day on Sunday. The price for the "weekend" spey camps is $1495 vs $1795 for the regular 3-night camps. Each camp is limited to 6 anglers. We will add additional dates if these first four scheduled camps fill up.
Camp #1: July 21-23, 2017 - 2 nights: $1,495 (Fri-Sat-Sun)
Camp #2: July 26-29, 2017 - 3 nights: $1,795
Camp #3: August 4-6, 2017 - 2 nights: $1,495 (Fri-Sat-Sun)
Camp #4: August 9-12, 2017 - 3 nights: $1,795
For more information, visit www.SpeyCamp.com!
I finished up 2016 and started 2017 fishing and guiding the Eel River drainage, parts of the Eel droped in nicely for about a six day window. There were Early Winter Run Steelhead about, a few grabs and one epic battle with a Chrome Bruiser in the mid teens, the Steelhead Won. Parts of the North Coast of California arguably have some of the best swing water anywhere and are inhabited with Dime Bright Steelhead throughout the Winter months. These fisheries are ideal for the dedicated swing angler, this is not a numbers game but one in which you are hunting beautiful water often amongst ancient Redwoods, looking for the fish of a life time ! Happy New Years !
the one that will haunt you...
just another epic swing run
Happy New Year! Fished the Calfornia coast under an indicator over the New Year under relatively high water conditions. Fished two days with fish around and gear chuckers makin' me look bad pullin' fish out of deep runs. Drew landed this beautiful, wild hen with a full belly that did some moonlighting as an acrobate. Water looked great for swinging! Nice way to bring in the New Year. Happy 2017 to all!
Both indicator and spey fished the main stem of the Eel on Tuesday, December 6th. Client got one grab swinging. On Wednesday, December 7th, to avoid what I thought would be a windy day, we left the main stem for the sanctuary of the South Fork and while the water was perfect, it was a bit early to find steelhead that high up. The following day the coast was blown.
The Fly Fishing Film Tour is coming to Redding this Thursday November 3rd. Confluence Outfitters is proud to be one of the main sponsors of the event which benefits our local Shasta-Trinity-Cascades Chapter of Trout Unlimited. The show is at the Redding Convention Center and begins at 7pm.
We have donated a great raffle prize, a free trip for two to Eagle Canyon! Come enjoy a good show, support a good cause, and buy some raffle tickets!
I hosted a group from Sacramento on a great trip to the Burney/Fall River area. The guys had a great time fishing the various waters that the area provides. We fished Burney Crrek, Hat Creek and the McCloud RIver. The only disappointment of the weekend was that the McCloud River was full of silt and off color enough to put the fish down. Amazing Salmonfly hatch though. Fishing was slow, but as always, the scenery was magnificent. Every where else we went, the fishing was very good.
The beautiful fall colors of the McCloud
Literally, white water.
Lots of smiles all weekend
The beautiful fall colors of the rainbow trout
Took my two favorite "clients" out for a day of chasing trout on one of the most beautiful streams in the world, Burney Creek. Kids and I had a ball casting and catching fish all day with dry flies. If you have a youngster that wants to get started in fly fishing, this is a great way to spend the day. Sometimes, the best days aren't measured in fish.
Plenty of Trophies to be had!
Lots of casting practice.
This afternoon I had an unprecendented and highly entertaining experience at the Powerhouse Riffle on Hat Creek. Clients Mark and Mike enjoyed about 45 minutes of unproductive fishing before a group of about 40 people floated through on a wide variety of floating devices. In aluminum boats, floating rubber ducks and flamingos and good old truck tire tubes, a happy entourage of Shasta Beer Weekend folks floated, scraped and bumped their way through the riffle. They were very curteous and apologetic, but they turned out to be our good luck charm. We started hooking fish as they went by us, and I could actually see the bigger fish swimming around eating all the bugs dislodged by this crew. Fishing was much better after they went through. We landed a couple of quality fish up to 13" - remember that every fishery is measured differently - and quite a few smaller fish on nymphs. Cheers to Shasta Beer Weekend!
San Juan shuffle times 50
The powerhouse riffle has changed...
Lots of bruised tailbones...
Shasta Beer Weekend meets the Powerhouse Riffle
Here are some pictures from my trip Thursday on one of my favorite small streams in the intermountain area. Brothers Scott and John had a great morning fishing hoppers to rainbows and browns. We had some classic moments trying to entice fish hiding under the cut-banks and watching them swim out to consider our flies. The hoppers were thick and the fish were looking for them. Tons of fun.
The last four days really exemplified the allure of fishing in the intermountain (Mt Lassen to Mt Shasta) region. In three full days and one evening trip I fished five different fisheries with two groups of clients. We fished the Fall River, Hat Creek, the Pit River, McCloud River, plus a great small stream. It's pretty common to fish two fisheries in a day up here.
John fishing a classic trout spot
More classic trout water
I spent a few days working and scouting the Hat Creek area over the weekend. There are many changes that I think anglers will benefit from (and a few that they might not). I visited and walked the entire length of Cal Trout's restoration project on the trophy section of Hat Creek. There were many additions to the area including a trail improvement project for angler access, various plantings of shorline vegetation, wooden structure added to the creek for fish habitat, and the most notable, a pedistrian bridge for creek crossing at Carbon Flats. The project is quite extensive and is progressing nicely. You can read and view a video at Cal Trout's website if you would like more information. One addition to the area that I didnt' care for was the addition of some fencing at the Cassel Flats area. I know that safety comes first, but fly anglers will be challenged with access to a couple spots that typically are good spots for catching planted trout. Your nets will really need to be long now! Anyway, excited to see what the project at Hat Creek brings to the area. Been fishing there since I was a kid and can't wait for it to return to its former self.
Bogey doing fish counts!
Pedestrian Bridge at Carbon Flats
Hopefully the home to a new crop of z grass and wild rainbows!
Nice and wide! The new trail starting at Powerhouse #2 and wandering all the way to Carbon Flats
Lots of new plantings to someday catch a fly on!
What? Safety first at the Cassel Flats!
We just finished up another fantastic guide school. Aaron, Rob, Dylan, and Drew was the dream team of students, who will all be guiding someday in the near future. All venues fished excellent for us this week.
The Pit River is fishing excellent. High stick nymphing is the most productive technique here until the caddis hatch is the evenings. If you cover water and have good presentations, you will find plenty of fish.
The McCloud River has also been fishing excellent. Dry dropper is my favorite rig here. If they aren't eating on top, go to a high stick nymph rig and cover water. Every evening on the Mac provides good dry fly fishing this time of year. Stick it out!
Fall River has had some fun head hunting opportunities in the mornings for large fish eating calibaetis emergers and spinners. Its a tough game to play, but more rewarding than just staring at a bobber and cleaning weeds off of it every cast. Sinking line techniques are also working, pulling damsels and leaches. Fishing has been shutting off by around 2pm, so good time for a break then go fish the hex in the evening. It's been starting really late this year, at around 9:15 so don't pack it in too early.
Hat Creek has been fishing great in the mornings and evenings. Excellent trico spinner fall from about 8 to 10. Fantastic caddis hatch in the evenings with a smattering of mayflies to keep you busy. Mid day has been slow here.
The upper Rogue has started to get steelhead trickling in. I'm heading up there this weekend. Mornings are the best time to swing one up this time of year up there. I will be back to guide it for the month of November after the Grande Ronde in October.
Reports from the lower Klamath are good! We start our spey camps down there August 1st and have one open spot left. Contact me for details.
Leslie releasing a Fall River beauty
Small creek fishing has been excellent
Aaron rigging for success on the Mac
Leslie and Rob working on dry dropper guide techniques
Dylan and Drew figuring out the best lie
Scott Saiki's client for Tuesday, June 28th just had to cancel his trip. Scott is now available to fish the Fall River, Lower Sac, or pretty much any other area fishery. The Fall River is fishing very well right now, with the hex hatch being the big draw. Get in touch if you would like to jump on this prime date!
The weather has been very sporadic in June here in Nor Cal. Mt. Shasta got a beautiful blanket of fresh snow a few nights ago. It makes for beautiful sunsets on Fall River as you await the hex hatch. Some of the windy and cooler nights this past week kept the hatch from happening, but overall its been a superb hex season despite the unseasonal weather. The hatch is happening both above and below the confluence, which makes for a nice displacement of pressure. Don't drop right below somebody when there is two hundred yards of open water above them. Llights! If you don't have proper lights on your boat, at least have headlamps and flashlights. Better yet, Shasta Angler in Fall River has the proper lights for you, the game warden and other anglers don't care if your crappy rental boat isn't properly equipped with lights...its the operator's responsibility.
Hat Creek has been decent in the mornings and evenings, kinda tough during the day. The warmer weather will help hatches. The Mac has been the typical McCloud. At times you wonder if there are any fish or insects in the place, then all of a sudden it turns on and you are hooking fish all over the place. Afternoons have been better recently for me.
I only have a few more days available for trout season. Fishing should be great these next few weeks.
Our pet hex!
Leslie on a remote Nor Cal freestone river
Hiking around in the beautiful forest the Mac runs through
My favorite hatch of all time is on Fall River, 20 minutes of glory!
Leslie and Alex Ferber casting dries on the Fall
Fished this past week all around NorCal working on a project with GoPro and Cal Trout. Over the course of the week, we fished the upper Sac, Hat Creek, the McCloud river, Klamath river and Fall River. The weather was cold and rainy, but the fishing still managed to be great. Fished with nymphs, streamers and dries, and caught fish with each set up. I even managed to swing up a bass. It was an awesome week, and with the weather starting to warm up again, the hatches should really start to pick up again.
On Fall River the past few days, the Hex hatch is really going off. This is my favorite hatch, not just because of the aggressive takes, but also because watching the sun set over Mt. Shasta is never the same experience twice.
A nice one at the lakes
Fall river sunsets
Best hatch and the best beer
Mikey Wier with a nice rainbow
I had a great weekend hosting Doug and Jeff from Sacramento in the pursuit of wild trout on some of my favorite rivers in Northern California. With the warm weather, the really big fish eluded us, but the bug activity provided us with tons of action. We fished the Upper and Lower sections of the McCloud RIver, Stretches #3 and #4 on the PIt RIver, and Hat Creek. Fishing on the McCloud and Hat Creek proved to be a ton of fun. We caught the majority of our fish on dries as the salmonfly hatch was in full force and there were small golden stone fly hatches everywhere. Our day on the Pit was even more challenging than usual. Higher than normal flows forced us into some tight spots. We managed to pick up a few nice fish though. If you love all the challenges that fly fishing can offer an angler, weekends like these are a blast.
This one crushed a Salmon Fly pattern! Fun!
Jeff on a beautiful stretch of the Lower McCloud. Fish rising just along the Elephant Ears!
Hard work pays off on the Pit!
How I end every trip to the Burney area!
Hat Creek Dandy!
Doug Working hard on the Pit
I spent a beautiful day guiding the lower Feather River today with fellow guide Mike Folden. We had a very special guest on board - my dad John! Mike spent the day coaching my dad and hooked him up with several nice trout. The trout/steelhead action was pretty tough today, but everyone in the group hooked trout and we put a few in the net. We also landed a handful of suckers and pikeminnows. We had the whole river to ourselves and covered a lot of water. The spring steelhead run on the Lower Feather can be good any time between March and June. It didn't seem like there were a ton of fish in the river, but that can change as the season progresses.
John with a fish on the line.
John and guide Mike Folden celebrate a fish in the net
Andrew's dad John Harris with a Feather River trout