Fly Fishing The McCloud River- Advanced
The Church, The cathedral, Holy Water, and the Jewel of the West Coast are names given to the spring fed McCloud River over the years. These affectionate names generally will indicate 1 of 2 things: it’s hard to get to or private… Amazing fishing and scenery are givens of course. In the case of the McCloud River it’s both. Many of the rivers in Northern California have been ravaged over gold, timber, and the obvious water. The McCloud River’s rugged surroundings and lack of gold kept both people and industries at bay. The McCloud Dam, forming Lake McCloud, separates the Upper McCloud River from the lower McCloud.
The Lower McCloud River fills Lake Shasta with help from the Upper Sacramento River, The Pit River, and various other creeks. Lake Shasta supplies the water for the Lower Sacramento River and most of the power in the Northern Ca. While the Upper McCloud River, home to the Native McCloud River Red Bands is more of a creek than a river.
So many words have been written on the blue green wasters and lush yet treacherous surroundings of Lower McCloud River. Most of these words were written by much better writers than me.
The Difficulty Rating of the Lower McCloud River – Advanced.
Now I am not saying you won’t have a good time if you go as it is an incredibly beautiful place to spend your time. The McCloud River is not the wading nightmare of the Pit River but involves quite a bit of hiking and moderately tough wading. The public water is minimal and gets fished often. Great fly choice and presentation is important. As long as you’re in good physical shape the fishing gaps can be bridged with a good guide.
Tips for Fly Fishing the Lower McCloud River:
Fish the soft edges of the river
Look out for rattlesnakes on the bank of McCloud. Here is a link on avoiding a rattler bite.
Fish dries any time of day in the spring and fall.
When nymphing, If you are not snagging bottom you are fishing a long enough leader or enough weight.
Fish smaller flies to catch more fish
Cast large streamer quartered up stream near the bank and stripped quickly using the current to form a belly in your line. This is what the big Brown Trout like.
Look out for poison oak it is everywhere. If you think you got it on you (you did) rinse all of your exposed skin with cold water river water this will close your pores and rinse the poison off. Heat and sweat open you pours and spread the poison.
Access and Camping on the Lower McCloud River:
Ash Camp On the McCloud River- Click the link to see Gps in Google Maps- In the town of McCloud make a left on Squaw Valley road. You take this for about 10 miles over the dam when the rod comes to a T go to the Right. Drive slow and look on your right for Ash Camp. It can be hard to see especially at night. Ash Camp provides great access to the river.
AH-Di-Nah Campground On the McCloud River – Click the link to see Gps in Google Maps- In the town of McCloud make a left on Squaw Valley road. You take this for about 10 miles until just before the dam there is a sharp left that takes you to Ah-DI-NAH campground. The 11 mile road is rough… take a sturdy vehicle. This is my favorite place to camp on The McCloud River. There is a trail on the Westside (campground side of the river.) There are a few Primitive campsites in between the conservancy and AH-Di-Nah Campground and the Nature Conservancy Property.
The Nature Conservancy– Click the link to view their website and book – The preserve allows 10 anglers to fish using catch and release techniques at any one time. Five of these fishing places may be reserved a least a few weeks in advance through the Conservancy’s San Francisco office: phone (415) 777-0487. The remaining five fishing spots are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Reservations are held until 10 a.m. of the date reserved.
Hatches on the Lower McCloud River-
Blue Winged Olive- Spring and Fall
Midge- Year round
Golden Stones- May- June
Salmonfly- May and June
PMD- July- September
Little Yellow Stone- June and July
October Caddis- Sept- October
Recommended reading on The McCloud River:
Fisher’s Guide to Northern California By Seth Norman
California’s Best Fly Fishing by Chip O’brien
Best Guide on The McCloud River:
Shasta Trout Phone number is 530-926-5763
Fly Fishing gear for the McCloud River:
The best trout fly rod for the McCloud is a 9ft 5 weight. Our Red Truck Diesel 590-4 is balanced perfectly for the McCloud River. If you want to streamer fish for the big Brown Trout I recommend our 9ft Six weight Red Truck Streamer rod.