The variety of fly fishing in California is as large as the state itself. Northern California is full rivers that provide fly fishing for rainbow trout, brown trout, largemouth bass, and stripers. Many lakes provide stillwater fly fishing opportunities in the northern and southern regions. Saltwater fly fishing is also popular in many california coastal regions as well.
- Carson River East Fork Fly Fishing In California
- Fall River Fly Fishing
- Fishing Alpine Lakes in the Trinity Mountains
- Fishing California's Largest Spring Creek: The Fall River
- Fishing for Sacramento River Rainbows
- Hat Creek Fly Fishing In California
- High Lakes Fly Fishing (Stanislaus)
- Klamath River Spring Trout Fishing
- Klamath River Steelhead Non-Stop Action!
- Lake McCloud Salmon Fly Hatch
- Lower American River Fly Fishing
- McCloud River Fly Fishing In California
- Merced River Fly Fishing In California
- Pit River Fly Fishing In California
- Sacramento River (Lower) Fly Fishing
- Sacramento River (Upper) Fly Fishing
- San Diego Sand Bass
- Shad Fishing on California’s Lower Sacramento River
- Siletz River Steelheading
- Smith River Fly Fishing
- Truckee River Fly Fishing
- Upper Twin lake Brown Trout Fishing
The Truckee is an irresistible river to fish. The first white person to set eyes on the Truckee, General Frémont, immediately had to fish it. He and his men enjoyed many days of fishing its waters and feasting on its bounty of Lahontan Cutthroat trout.
The Truckee River system is internationally renowned for its huge trout. In Frémont’s day thirty and forty pound Cutthroat were abundant. Forty pound trout no longer ply the cool waters of the Truckee, but twenty and thirty lake trout (mackinaw) are taken every year from its feeder lakes Tahoe and Donner. There are few places on the planet where, with a fly rod, one can reasonably expect to catch more ten pound and larger trout than Pyramid Lake, Nevada.
On the California side of the border, the Truckee River can be divided into three sections: 1) Lake Tahoe to Trout Creek, 2) Trout Creek to the Boca Outflow and 3) Boca to State Line.Section 1 originates in Lake Tahoe and is fed by half a dozen small tributaries. This section is heavily stocked with catchable sized rainbows throughout the fishing season (fourth Saturday in April through November 15). Early in the season when the rest of the river is often muddy and high with runoff, this upper stretch remains fishable.
The section upstream of River Ranch never dirties and provides limited but reliable angling. Come summer, this same section is packed with rafters, making mid-day angling impossible. River Ranch to Trout Creek (the east end of Truckee) is a mild gradient freestone stretch that is easily accessible right off the shoulder of Highway 89.
Section 2 is a state designated Wild Trout Stream. It has a self-sustaining population of wild rainbows and browns that are stronger, somewhat larger and much harder to catch than those fish in the upstream section. These fish are protected with a strict policy of catch and release. Only barbless flies and lures are allowed. Two trout over fifteen inches may be legally kept, but it is an unwritten law that all fish are released in this stretch. More than a few anglers with a stringer of dead fish have returned to their car to find their tires flattened.
The Wild Trout section of the Truckee must be the best protected piece of water in the state. The local game warden, district attorney and judge are flyfishers and enforce the game laws with a vengeance. Be forewarned: wear your license, use barbless hooks and release your fish!
There is limited fishing to be found on the section paralleled by Glenshire Drive just east of town. Because of its wild trout status and close proximity to town, this is possibly the most pressured section of the entire river. The window between spring run-off and hot summer temperatures is the best time to fish here. Come July, there simply isn’t enough cool water to keep trout active during the day.
From the inlet of Prosser Creek (at the first I-80 river overpass east of Truckee) to the Boca Outlet, the water is deeper, the temperatures generally lower and the fishing better than the upper sections. Easy fishing access can be found at the second I-80 river overpass east of Truckee and at the Boca exit.
Section 3 from Boca to State Line has special angling restrictions (see current Fish & Game regulations). Some of the largest trout in the Truckee and most of the river’s smallmouth bass live in this stretch; however, the water here can be deep and treacherous so fish accordingly. Access to Section 3 is somewhat limited; most anglers enter the river at Boca, Floriston or Farad. Early in the season the Truckee can be cold and blown out with high water. Your best bet is to fish the river upstream of the tributaries (try River Ranch). If you’re willing to go against the odds and perhaps get a very large trout, fish run-off using a large (#4 to 3/0) streamer with contrasting colors. The most effective pattern to date is the Goblin. The Goblin is a black woolly bugger with a strip of bright orange rabbit pulled over its back. Other flies that will work include a dark wooly bugger, a Clousser minnow in black, white or bright green and a marabou muddler.
Because the water is cold, trout seem to limit their meals to a few big bites rather than chasing little stuff. The typically murky water and long angler-free winter often make the elusive big trout more susceptible than they might be at other times of the year.
As the water clears, the first bugs will be the #16 yellow craneflies, the Ameletus mayflies (Slate winged dun) and Rhithrogenia mayflies (March Browns). These will be quickly followed by the Baetis (Blue winged olive).
About the same time as the willows and alders are leafing out, the bulk of the Truckee insects begin to emerge and the trout start to rise freely. June and July typically have the best dry fly fishing of the year. The Sierra Nevada Hatch Chart was developed over a fifteen year period using the Wild Trout section of the Truckee River as its basis. Use it!
In the dog days of summer, the best fishing tends to be early in the morning and late in the evening. Take advantage of windy afternoons and fish grasshopper patterns to imitate the hapless bugs that get blown into the river.
The Lahontan Cutthroat trout which was the orginal inhabitant in the Truckee have long since disappeared. Dam construction, mill operations, comercial harvest and the introduction of non native lake trout, rainbow trout and brown trout proved to be too much for the meek cutthroat. The Lahonatn Cutthroat isnow found only in small remnant populations on the Sierra’s east flank and out into Nevada. Under mandate from the Endangered Species Act, the US Fish and Wildlife Service is undertakingthe re introduction of the Lahontan Cutthroat into the Truckee River.
The task of re introducing an endemic species back into its native waters is a laudible endeavor. The reintrodcution of the Lahontan Cutthroat back into the Truckee will be difficult if not impossible. Outside of a few staff within the USFWS I have yet to speak to a knowledgable biologist who believes the effort will succede. Rainbow trout are highly competetive and readily interbreed with cutthroat. For the plan to work, the vast majority of brown trout and virtually all of the rainbows will have to eliminated. Planting cutthroat on top of an existing rainbow population has been tried hundreds of times throughout the western US but it has NEVER worked. It will be interesting to see how lofty ideals, common sense and big government interplay on the Truckee. I hope they don’t ruin the river in an effort to save it.
Little Truckee River
A tailwater fishery that thrives despite the best we can do to screw it up
The Little Truckee River originates from the snowmelt of Mt. Lola. It meanders through Perazzo Meadows, underneath highway 89, and ultimately pours into the Stampede Reservoir impoundment. The upper reaches of the “Little T” flow into and out of private property and US Forest Service Lands. The boundaries are well marked and users are encouraged to respect private property rights.
The meadow reaches of the Upper Little Truckee fish well in early summer as soon as run off subsides. Rainbow trout from Stampede move into the gravel bars to spawn and many remain in the system as the water level drops. Catch and kill angler impact is severe and and usually by then end of July the fishery is largely gone. The relatively few trout that remain are wary and spend daylight hours tucked deep inside cover. Riparian habitat has been largely destroyed by over grazing and river side banks have collapsed due to pounding by cattle and loss of vegetation. This stretch of river has tremendous potential to harbor a healthy ecosystem, but it will take a concerted effort to restore the watershed.
Much of the Little Truckee is diverted to Sierra Valley farmers at Hennese Pass and between the diversion and Stampede Reservoir the river is unable to support much trout life during the hot summer months. In the fall, releases from Independence Lake allow large numbers of kokanee salmon to run into the Little Truckee to spawn. Lack of juvenile nursery area precludes successful recruitment of the kokanee but the large numbers of easily harvested fish attract bears, mountain lions, bald eagles, golden eagles and a host of other opportunistic carnivores. The salmon that aren’t eaten by predators die and their carcasses return vital nutrient to the ecosystem.
The water stored in Stampede Reservoir is primarily controlled by the Pyramid Lake Indian tribe and to a lesser degree by agricultural, municipal and industrial users in the Truckee Meadows of Nevada. Water releases are dictated by decrees and contracts that date back over 100 years. The Little Truckee below Stampede is frequently in flood one week and almost dried up the next. Directly related to these unmitigated flows, loss of aquatic invertebrates is annually measured in the many millions of lives. Despite the flow related carnage, the insect life in the Little Truckee is still amazing. Strong hatches of mayflies, caddisflies, stoneflies, craneflies and midges occur throughout the season.
In the spring when snowmelt is being released from Stampede, the Little Truckee roars over the small dam at the historic Boyington Mills site. Most of the season this dam is an unbreachable barrier to upstream fish migration out of Boca Reservoir. During spring flood flows, rainbow and brown trout breach the barrier and infiltrate the Little Truckee up to the base of Stampede Reservoir. As the flows subside, these trout are trapped in the river system. Through 1999 catch and kill anglers would harvest the fish out of the Little Truckee and destroy the fishery resource by mid summer. Due to tremendous pressure from catch and release anglers, the California Fish and Game Commission voted to manage the Little Truckee as a self sustaining wild trout fishery.
Current regulations state that the Little Truckee River between Stampede and Boca Reservoirs be open to angling from the last Saturday in April through November 15. Only two fish may be harvested and to protect spawning adults, they can only be a MAXIMUM of 14″ long. To lessen the hooking mortality associated with bait, only artificial lures and flies with barbless hooks may be used. Historically catch and release regulations would stipulate SINGLE barbless hooks; however, research has shown little if any mortality difference between barbless treble hooks and single barbless hooks, and that regulation has been changed.
Flows largely dictate success on the Little Truckee so be certain to check Stampede discharge before making the trip. Best flows are around 100cfs. Over the past twenty five years we have charted the insect hatches off the Little Truckee and surrounding waters. To get a general idea of when to anticipate certain hatches and what flies to use, go to our Sierra hatch chart. For updated conditions check out our fishing reports.
Hat Creek Wild Trout Section
This is a three and one half mile section of beautiful classic dry fly water restricted to catch and release fishing with flies or lures with barbless hooks. The flow is regulated by the powerhouse and stays consistant throughout the season. Spring runoff does not affect it. It is always fishable, when other waters are blown due to high water at the beginning of the season.
More info on Fishing Hat Creek
The wild trout section starts at Hat Powerhouse #2, and ends at lake Britton. There is a fish barrior that prevents the squaw fish and other warm water species from entering Hat Creek. The water from the Highway 299 bridge, downstream to the fish barrier is referred to as the lower section. Most of this water is riffles. Most of it is wadeable.co
There are good caddis, green drake, and Salmon Fly hatches in this section of the creek. We start looking for these hatches to start around the 2nd. week of May.
Most of Hat Creek, upstream from the highway 299 bridge, is smooth, flat water with abundant weed growth and predictable hatches. It is challenging water because the fish are very selective and leader shy. It can be crowded in early season. Crowds thin down in summer. It is very easy access, and plenty of casting space from the banks. Wading is difficult in most of the flat water due to depth of water.
The best hatches are in May, June, and July. The biggest people hatches are in the same months. Spinnerfalls of Trico and rustys provide good dry fly action from May through the end of season. If you enjoy dry fly fishing to risiconneng fish, test your skills on the flat water of Hat Creek. We love casting to those rising fish, and this is the place for it. Catching depends on your skill level and ability to make your fly drift naturally into the fish’s feeding lane.
The most popular spot on Hat Creek is the riffle known as Hat PH2.This riffle continues to produce good nymph and dry fly fishing year after year. The fish are leader shy, but don’t seem to mind wading boots!!! It is easy to wade, and a perfect place to learn nymphing techniques. This riffle provides an abundant food source for the trout. Try it, you’ll love it!
Upper Hat Creek
This section of the Hat is accessed along highway 89 going south from the intersection of 299E and 89 just east of Burney. The stream is stocked. Regular CA. fishing regulations apply here. The water is clear and running fast. There are several campgrounds along the highway. Nymph fishing is the best method in this stretch of Hat.
This is a stocked section of Hat Creek/Rising River. There is a P.G.& E. campground there. This is a good spot for beginner fly fisher persons.
This a California’s largest spring creek. It is a spectacular fishery, especially when the P.M.D. hatch is going good.There is abundant weed growth, and clear, smooth water. We focus on the section that has public access that is provided by Cal Trout. The hatches are predictable, and pretty much go on all season. Prime months to get the best dry fly action are May, June, July, Oct, and Nov. There is an excellent Hexagenia hatch in the lower section of the river. This hatch usually starts around the third week of June and continues through July, and sometimes into August. In the summer, the evening caddis hatches are good throughout the river. You need a boat, canoe, or pontoon boat to fish this river. No fishing from bank or wading, as it is all private property.
This is where you will catch the biggest fish! Access is difficult and wading is slippery, slippery, slippery. The sections we fish are called Pit #3, and Pit #4. Pit #3 starts at the dam at the end of Lake Britton. This is the C&R; section. It goes about seven miles. The section below the Pit #3 powerstation is Pit #4. This section is not C&R.; None of the Pit is stocked, as far as I know. The water is pocket water, riffles, runs, and pools. Nymphing is the most successful method. You can often get a fish to rise to a dry fly, but if you judge your success on fish count, nymphing is best.
This small stream flows through McArthur Burney Falls Memorial State Park. It is fast flowing and difficult wading. There are special regulations for the section of the creek from the base of Burney Falls to the mouth at Lake Britton. This section requires barbless hooks, artificial flies, or lures, with a two fish under 14 in.limit. The section above the falls is stocked and regular CA. fishing regulations apply. There is a state campground in the park. It is a beautiful creek, and the falls are spectacular
Lakes & Reservoirs
Despite its somewhat austere shoreline of gravel and sagebrush, Martis is a flyfisher’s dream. The lake is a veritable soup of insects, scuds, snails and baitfish: perfect for growing big trout fast. A strict zero kill, catch and release policy insures that the trout can grow to trophy size and naturally replenish the lake with wild fish. The feeder streams are closed to any kind of fishing to protect the spawners and fingerlings. A quiet lakeside campground and close proximity to the amenities of Truckee and Lake Tahoe make Martis an ideal destination.
The incredibly rich waters of Martis qualified it as the first lake inducted into the California Wild Trout system. The Department of Fish & Game poisoned the lake of all the fish and planted it with threatened Lahontan Cutthroat. The Cutts grew rapidly and provided excellent fishing for a couple of years. The lake was destined to be a rearing ground for trophy Cutthroat, but nature isn’t quite that easy to manipulate!
Unknown to DF&G personnel, brown trout eggs, hidden in the gravel of Martis Creek, survived the poisoning of the lake and hatched. These little browns quickly grew to trout large enough to feed on the Cutthroat. At the same time, an illegal planting of green sunfish was made in Martis and the resulting boom in baitfish provided perfect fare for the browns. By the mid-eighties, Martis was nationally known as a trophy brown trout fishery.
DF&G gave up on the Cutthroat project and began planting the lake with various types of rainbows, including sterile “English Ladys” that can grow to double digit figures. In the early nineties in the midst of a prolonged drought, the fishery crashed and most of the browns were lost. Today, the fishery has rebuilt itself and harbors a dense population of fat rainbows. Trout fifteen to twenty inches are abundant and fish over two feet are occasionally hooked.
Early in the season (the lake opens the last Saturday in April), Martis is typically fished with small gray midge imitations. As soon as the water temperatures break fifty degrees, the famous Martis blood midges begin to hatch. These insects thrive in most of the West’s alkaline lakes and they become the hatch to watch for in lakes with a population of perch or sunfish. The perch are deadly predators on callibaetis and siphlonurus mayfly nymphs and reduce the dry fly fishing dramatically.
The blood midge larvae live deep within the mud of the bottom of the lake, safe from predation by the voracious baitfish. The bright red midge larvae are filled with hemoglobin, the same stuff that makes our blood red. This hemoglobin has a tremendous affinity for oxygen and allows the larvae to live in the severely hypoxic environment at the bottom of the lakes. Protected in this nutrient rich and predator free environment, the midge larvae population can exceed 3,000 insects per meter.
The blood midge can hatch any time of any day throughout the season, but can be anticipated in greatest numbers when the sun is below the horizon or hidden behind clouds. The best way to fish the midge is as either an ascending pupae or as the emerging adult in the surface film. The best pupae pattern is a #14 brassie slowly drawn towards the surface on long light tippet.
The emerger pattern is deadly and much more fun to fish than the brassie because the grab is a visual experience. The number one fly at Martis is the aptly named Martis Midge tied on a #14 hook. This fly resembles the adult midge pulling out of a pupal sheath at the surface. The Martis Midge’s bright deer hair post makes it easy to see, the parachute hackle floats it in the film, and the subsurface orange dubbing and wisp of Crystal Flash imitate the pupae. Dress the leader, the deer hair and the hackle with fly floatant and cast it toward the rings of a rising fish and hold on!
Even though the callibaetis population is hammered by the sunfish, these speckled winged mayflies still occur in very fishable numbers. A pheasant tail nymph “mooched” above the weed beds does a credible job imitating the callibaetis nymph. A quigley cripple mayfly in gray does a great job imitating the emerger and usually outfishes any of the specific dun imitations. In the afternoon, be prepared to toss a rusty colored CDC biot spinner to imitate the egg-laying females.
Another Martis Lake standby is the sunfish imitation. Truly huge trout are taken every year on green wooly buggers wooly buggers and matukas. Fish these streamers near the margins of weed beds where big trout are stalking the errant sunfish that might leave the refuge of the aquatic vegetation.
As with most of the Northern Sierra lakes, damsel flies are an important hatch that peaks around the Fourth of July weekend. Fish the nymph imitation on a floating line with a very slow retrieve, stopping frequently to allow the fly to sink. Most of the takes occur during the drop, so pay strict attention to the movement of your leader. It is all to easy to get distracted by the numerous gliders, ospreys, bald eagles or pelicans.
Adult damsels are often overlooked by even experienced anglers. Trout occasionally take the egg-laying adults as they dap their abdomens into the water, but many more are taken just as they are drying their wings after emergence.
The damsel nymphs crawl out onto weeds and the shoreline to hatch into adults. The newly emerged adults, called tenerals, take twenty minutes before they harden and take flight. While drying, they lack much structural integrity and even a slight breath of wind can cause them to lose their footing and fall into the water. Trout are well aware of this and eagerly anticipate teneral falls.
In the fall, Martis is pretty much a streamer proposition. Again, be sure to try the sunfish patters, but don’t fail to experiment. These fish have spent all summer looking at fraudulent flies and have become quite suspicious of anything that doesn’t look perfect. Often they will fall for something they’ve never seen before, such as a pink-headed bugger with lime green legs.
Time has shown us that the Martis fishery and its surrounding environment are fragile. Don’t drive over soft or mushy terrain and don’t let your dog harass the baby geese and sandpipers. Do treat your fish with respect. Play it quickly and fully revive it by swishing it to and fro, forcing oxygenated water through its gills, before you release it.
Manzanita is a catch and release lake in Lassen National Park. There is a $10 fee to enter the park. The fish are usually in the 16in. plus size range. This is a beautiful lake, with Mt. Lassen looming in the background. A good place for family and fishermen alike. No power boats are allowed. The lake is great for float tubes. Manzanita ices over in the winter, and is usually ice free sometime in May.
This is a stocked lake. Regular CA. fishing regulations apply. No gas motors are allowed. Flyfishing is more productive using a small pram or tube. If you tube Baum, you should have an anchor as there is a current throughout the lake. Baum is open all year, and can provide some good winter fishing. It does not ice over.
The California Data Exchange Center
Winter fishing in California can be an exercise of extremes…
Trout Fishing Wilderness Lakes in California
The main activity to be enjoyed at Bidwell-Sacramento River State Park is bank or boat fishing for salmon, steelhead and shad.
The Trinity River Fish Hatchery received its largest return ever of steelhead in 2003-2004 – and this is shaping up to be another good season, though not as spectacular as last year.
This is a web page in the California state portal entitled: Colusa-Sacramento River SRA.
Map, photo, and description of the Eel River
The most important game fish in the Inyo-Mono area are trout.
Northern California Fly Fishing
Northern California’s Hat is one of the West’s best spring creeks.
Only catch-and-release traditional dry fly fishing is allowed.
Fly Fishing California
The Northern California Chapter of the Federation of Fly Fishers home. Events for our fly fishing community, conservation news, fishing stories and tips.
What’s the best stretch of wild trout water in the state of California?
History and culture of Lassen County, Northern California. Fishing for Eagle Lake Rainbow Trout.
Articles on the McCloud, Hat Creek, Fall River, Upper Sacramento, and the Pit River
Smallmouth are well adapted to severe winter temperatures and though they will dine on the Truckee
The Upper Sacramento River is an outstanding river of diverse character. It is densely populated with hard-fighting wild rainbows that average 12″ and range over 20″.
Local information on Dunsmuir, CA.
One of the best bets on the upper Sacramento is the newly opened section of river from the confluence of Soda Creek to the bridge at Sweetbriar.
Yellowfin on the fly is the big draw to the Mexico
The big game can wait, really; cast from the beach for a
Fly-rodding afoot in the surf zones of California, Washington and Oregon.
CFFU, Sacramento, CA, has a vast array of activities for every level of fly fisherperson.
The Fly Fishing Club of the Conejo Valley, California. Fishing reports, flies, patterns, hints/tips, membership information, club meetings, weather, and great fly fishing links.
Delta Fly Fishers is a community organization whose members are dedicated to the furtherance of the art of fly fishing.
The Eastern Sierra is home to a number of trout species. From the Rainbow to the state fish, the Golden trout, the entire region contains excellent populations of stocked and native fish.
Wilderness Fly Fishers was born in 1965 when fly fishers who congregated at Cliff Wyatt
This emergence index is based on 30 years of monitoring Northern Sierra waters.
a nice map from ESPN outdoors
Northern California Flyfishing Report
Reports on Hat Creek, Fall River, Pit River, Burney Creek, Cassel, Baum Lake, and Manzanita lake
Reports for the Owens, Hot Creek, Pheasant Valley Reservoir, June Lake, Mammoth Lakes, and Crowley Lake
Northern & Central California Lake Reports and maps
California Fishing Report for: Owens River, Crowley Lake, Hot Creek, San Joaquin River, East Walker River and Pleasant Valley Reservoirby guide Gary Gunsolley
Many rivers & what to use
California School of Flyfishing conditions and hatches and flies for the Tahoe Truckee area including the Truckee, Little Truckee, Martis, and Lake Tahoe.
Current Conditions for the Truckee River
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