Fall River Spring Trout Fishing

By: Richard Alves

The crystal clear waters of the Fall River originate from snowmelt on the Eastern slopes of Mt. Shasta and springs in its old lava flow. The river slowly meanders through the Fall River Valley, a farming area known for its wild rice. The river channel, cut out of an ancient lava bed, is lined with lush aquatic grasses, the perfect habitat for a plethora of aquatic insects and trout.

The chunky rainbow cleared the water by at least three feet. I tried to strip the slack out of the line. The fish hit the water and took off on another run down river. With the only drag being my finger on the line, I wondered how much tension the 2 pound tippet would stand as I finally slowed and then turned the fish. We soon had it to the boat and went through our C.P.R. program (Catch, Photograph, Release). The fish swam off and hid in the weeds on the river bottom.

Paul Voltura of the Pit River Lodge with another Wild Rainbow The Fall River is renown for its native rainbows, to 24 inches in length, ad its native browns, which can top 6 pounds. In the spring, most of the fish you find will be rainbow because the browns haven’t yet returned from their spawning runs. The clarity of the water combined with the abundant insect population make these fish finicky. If you haven’t got just the right bug, and use just the right approach, your offering will be ignored. It can be really frustrating to place a fly perfectly in front of a rising fish and then watch it swim away!

I was fishing with Paul Voltura, resident fishing guide for the Pit River Lodge. We slowly cruised up river; the speed limit is 5 MPH, until we passed a long slot with numerous fish feeding on the surface. Paul anchored the 14 ‘ Klamath boat just upriver from the action. “I want to make sure we know what they’re hitting before we put the boat in the slot.” He said.

Pale Dunn Fly
Pheasant Tail Fly

So we began the process of determining the “hot” fly. There were hatches of both pale dunns and black caddis happening. Paul tried a floating dunn, and I tied on the caddis. After drifting the flies downstream in front of feeding fish, and not getting any takers, Paul suggested we switch to emerging nymph patterns.

When the fish are so fussy, the presentation has to be perfect. The fly has to be in a dead drift. The technique is to keep feeding line so the fly drifts naturally, but not to have so much line out you can’t set the hook. If the fly makes one unnatural move, you might as well bring it in and start over. With a nymph, things get a little more interesting because you can’t see the bug.

On my second drift with a pheasant tail (small 18-20) I had a taker. My rod tip bent over and I fed the fish line for the first run… That was just the beginning, we had found the “hot bug”. Over the next two hours we boated around 20 fish, I quit counting. The Fall River rainbows we encountered weren’t the biggest the river has to offer, but the fight these fish put up is phenomenal!

The Fall River, located 75 miles East of Redding, CA on Highway 299, is an artificial lure, barbless hook fishery. You are allowed 2 fish, maximum length 14″.

Food And Lodging:
The Pit River Lodge is approx. 10 miles West of Fall River. The lodge is one of the finest examples of early 20th Century Craftsman style architecture in the state, and their rates are reasonable.

The dining room provides outstanding continental cuisine, specializing in fresh seafood. Don’t miss the Scallops and Prawns Linguine, and Chef Bob’s New England Clam Chowder. They’ll gladly cook your catch, if you ask them in the morning before you go fishing. And they can also supply you with lunch.

The lodge will advise you on the hot fishing spots on the area’s many lakes, streams, and rivers, and can help you obtain a guide if you need one.

I know this is a glowing review, but these guys “earned” it. Check them out on the web at