By Chip O'Brien
No matter if you must crack the code of Northern California's mythical wild-trout waters, examine the simplest floats at the Sac, or fish for steelhead, stripers and shad at the American River, this advisor is the easiest position to begin for a profitable fishing journey.
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Extra info for California's Best Fly Fishing: Premier Streams and Rivers from Northern California to the Eastern Sierra
On spring evenings you can go big. Golden Stones and the occasional Salmonfly bob up and down until splat, they either lay their eggs or become a bedtime snack for a trout. If the water is flat there is reason for a longer and more delicate presentation. In smaller places like pocketwater you can get away with short, rather abrupt presentations. Try to make your big Mercer’s Flush Floater, Stimulator, Madame X, or Sloan’s Persuader hit the water like the naturals. Most of us don’t need any help making indelicate presentations.
Even during big-water springtimes, McCloud trout like little bugs. The early season Baetis hatch is often best on drizzly days. Sizes 16-18 match the hatch well. If you encounter rising fish lengthen your leader and drop down to 6X. Great Baetis adult imitations include Quigley’s Hat Creek Spider, Quigley Cripple, or even an old reliable Adams. When the Baetis return on the cold days of fall, they will be one size smaller. General nymph patterns like the Gold-Ribbed Hare’s Ear work well on the McCloud because they resemble so many different kinds of bugs.
The early 1900s saw more changes as the burgeoning influx of white settlers removed much of the timber and built lava-rock levees to transform swamp into productive farmland. Today these century-old levees just seem like part of the natural landscape. Natural surroundings, however, are rarely drawn with nice, straight lines, so those stream banks along the lower river didn’t happen by accident. Though not so obvious today, the town of Fall River Mills was built on the fertile delta formed by the junction of the Fall and Pit rivers.