Friday, September 20, 2019

Northern California Fly Fishing Report Sept 20, 2019

Fall has arrived in Northern California and with it some of the very best fly fishing of the year!
From trout and bass to striper and steelhead there is plenty of action for what ever your skills and preferences are. It's go time!!!

Best bets; Putah Creek, Lower Sacramento, Upper Sacramento, Pit River, McCloud River or Truckee - Trout,  Trinity and Feather River - Steelhead, Delta, S.F. Bay Striper and Napa River - Striper


Lake Almanor - Trout and Smallmouth Bass 

Rating: Poor to Fair but improving soon
Flows: Na
Water Temps: 56-63 Deg
Clarity: 8 to 12 ft


Fishing Report: Fishing conditions are tough right now for trout. The Hex fishing is long gone but it was a good season for sure with lots of nice browns, bows and smalleys in the net and happy guests! Things have definitely slowed after the Hex hatch ended. Best fishing has been targeting smallmouth in 15 to 20 ft of water off rocky points and rock ledges. Trout fishing has been very challenging but getting ready to change. Currently fish are swimming around deep (205 to 30 ft) cruising around gorging on tiny Daphnia Zooplankton. Since they are like a size 34 to 40 it is impossible to mimic these almost microinvertibrates. By early October however trout will switch to targeting the floating pond smelt and fishing will take off! Stay tuned or reserve your prime dates now


Best flies: Clousers, leaches etc.



Guide Tip: hold off fishing Almanor right now. Wait until trout switch to floating pond smelt, then hang on to your rod!!!


American River - Striper and Steelhead 
Rating: Fair to Poor
Flows: 2,600 CFS
Visibility : Good

Fishing Report: Flows on the AR are up and most striper have made their return trip back to the Delta. This was a pretty good striper season on this local river. It is amazing what having enough water will do for a fishery. Some sporadic half pounder steelhead still being caught by some of our friends but we're not actually guiding the river right now. Time to give the American a break and look forward to steelhead to begin their return migration this Winter and Spring. Good things are already happening on the Feather and Trinity.




Steelhead Nymphs: Birds Nests 10 -14, Copper Johns, Black or Olive Poopahs and Princes 14 -16. Micro Mays 14 to 18, Brown or Black Rubber Legs 6 - 10 and eggs ( Peachy King, Roe and Tangerine)

Traditional Steelhead patterns: Silver Hiltons, Anderson's Classic, Fly Fishing Specialties Alevin, Anderson Euphoria, Heisenberg, Green Butt Skunk, Falken's Tiny Dancer, Hartwick's Purple Hilton, Hobo Spey in black/blue and Black/Chart, Intruders, Perpetrators, Beach Bums, Olive Sculpins, Cream Soft Hackles and Blood Sucking Leaches. Olive buggers, U name its, Olive Sculpin.

Striper Flies: Stay Hungry Streamers, Byng's Baitfish, Angel's Chartreuse and White, Angels Delta Danger and Angel's Smolt, Toby's Rainbow Clouser 4/0, Toby's A.R. Rainbow 4/0, American River Special 3/0, Clousers - chartreuse/white, gray/white

Guide Tip: Time to target other rivers and wait till Winter and Spring runs of steelhead return to the river.

Lake Berryessa: Largemouth, Smallmouth, Spotted Bass, 
Rating: Poor
Flows: Not Applicable 
Water Temps: 70's 
Water Clarity: 8 to 9 ft


Fishing Report: Fishing has been slow on Lake Berryessa. Top water will begin slow now that cooler night temperatures are cooling water in the shallows. Fish can still be found on points in 8 - 20ft of water but not in great numbers. Fishing full sink baitfish/leech patterns is probably your best bet. 


Bass Flies: Woolly Buggers, dark rabbit strip flies and leaches.

For more on Berryessa click here...




Clear Lake - Largemouth Bass Fair - Good, Crappie - Poor
Temps: 68 to 72 degrees
Clarity: Varying by day. Up to 1'-4'


Summer Bass conditions on this amazing fishery are winding down. Fishing will begin to slow now as it does normally for fly anglers in mid September. Time to give some other options a try. 

Flies: Small lightly weighted clousers with lots of white like the gray over white Stay Hungry Streamer or any shad imitations will work well. 

Guide Tip: Always look for structure. Fish a shad pattern around it and good things will happen. try having 3 streamer rods ready with I line, Type 4 and Type 6 to cover the depths. Find dock shade this time of year and twitch a fly through it.




Foothill Bass Lakes, Lake Oroville Englebright etc. - Largemouth, Smallmouth, Spotted Bass etc.
Rating: Fair
Temps: 67 to 71 degrees
Clarity: Clear

Fishing Report: Fishing has begun to improve on the Sierra Foothill lakes now that the weekend crowds of water skiers, wakeboarders, jet skiers etc. have gone home. In the Fall spotted bass, and smallmouth begin to come up in the column and chow down preparing for winter. Top water will begin to slow rapidly with colder air and water temps but streamers and even float n fly should remain good through November. The float n fly specifically is a great tune up for the Lower Sacramento trout fishing as it requires quick reaction times and good arc on ones rod to keep fish hooked just like the Lower Sac. Focus on cover such as downed trees, along tules, rocks, drop offs and rocky points in both sun or shaded water

On another note some really good trout have also been caught in several of these lakes throughout the Sierras. Electronics can help you find trout if you have them. 

Bass Flies: Leaches, Woolly Buggers, dark rabbit bass flies.


Trout Flies: Bellyache minnow, olive or black leaches, buggers, small clousers or bunny patterns.

Guide Tip: Search and move. For trout look for the areas where streams enter the lake. There may be some big bows or browns lurking. 





California Delta Striper - Good, Largemouth - Fair, Smallmouth - Fair
Flows: NA 
Water Temps: 60-65 degrees 
Water Clarity: Clear to a bit off color depending on the area but good in much of the Delta.





Fishing Report: Striper fishing on the Delta has improved recently which is typical for this time of year.  

For more on Delta Striper click here...

We had some fun Summer smallmouth fishing this season. It wasn't quite as good on the top water poppers as we have come to expect in recent years but still many willing top water fish caught and even more on the streamer or "popper dropper" technique. With the cooler evening temps the smallmouth thing is wrapping up. There are still opportunities right now to fish smalleys, largemouth and striper and get the Delta slam.



For more on Delta Smallmouth fishing click here...

Striper flies:  Clouser style flies like Byng's Baitfish - 1/0, Angel's Chartreuse and White, Angels Delta Danger and Angel's Smolt. Surface wise it has been hard to beat a Crease fly  in 1/0 - 2/0 sizes.

Largemouth: Diving Frogs, Stay Hungry Streamers - Chartreuse, Perch or Shiner colors, #2  Byng's Baitfish, 1/0 Angel's Chartreuse and White, Angels Delta Danger and Angel's Smolt, Angel's Bluegill - 4/0.

Smallmouth Flies: Small poppers in a variety of colors such as green, white, yellow, brown etc. #2 - 4 Pultz Poppers Brown, Black or Olive Woolly Buggers.


Guide Tip: Smalleys like the rocks, Largemouth like the trees, tules and weed lines and striper will be along current seams, rock structure or drop offs where they can ambush unsuspecting bait fish.


Fall River  
Rating: Good
Flows: Not Applicable 
Water Temps: Cold




Fishing Report: Fishing on the Fall continues to be good. A few PMD's and Caddis are coming off in the afternoon but with cooler temps this won't last long. Baetis and Tricos have been the main food items and will more than likely continue. With two back to back high water years it is no wonder that it has been a really good fishing season on the Fall. Sunlight and warm days have trigger the growth of prolific weed beds that Fall River insects love. A good bet is to start the day fishing nymphing with Baetis, PMD's and Midges to pods or holding fish. Or try the trout spey with a soft hackles. Once hatches begin keep swinging or switch to dries. Once the hatches ebb switch to fishing leeches or wooly buggers through the deeper holes and runs. Go back to dries once evening hatches come back into play. Fall can be really hot on the Fall so get out there and get after it.

Nymphs : PMD, BWO  16 to 18 and Midge patterns 18 to 22 exa; X Mays, Hogans S&M and Mercers Micro May in 16 - 18, Soft Hackle Peacock 16 to 18, PT's HBI's, Zebra Midges.

Dries : PMD, BWO dries and emergers exa; Parachute Adams - 12, EC Caddis, Missing Link, Light Cahill 14 - 16, Parachute Light Cahill 14 to 16, Elk Hair Caddis, 14 to 16, Hackle Stacker PMD 14 - 16, Lawson's PMD 14 to 16, 

Streamers : Your favorite Leach pattern, Hale Bopp,Damsel Leaches, Wolly Buggers,


Guide tip: If you don't see hatches swing a leach or bugger or even a caddis pupae or damsel.

For more on the Fall River click here...




Feather River - Steelhead
Rating: Good
Flows: High
Clarity: Clear
Flows: 3,500 cfs

Fishing Report: Late September should be good. The river has fished pretty respectable recently. Some quality adults mixed in with some good half pounder action. The fish are pretty grabby right now taken mainly floss worms, Hogan’s S&Ms, and the green bubble back caddis. The majority of the fish are wild but smaller, in the 16- 18 inch range.  These guys are really feisty and fun.  Don’t get complacent and set on anything as there are some nice adult fish in there too right now. 





Hat Creek - Trout
Rating: Good
Flows: 130 CFS 
Clarity: Clear




Hat Creek is another great option in the Redding Area that is a storied fishery for those of us who like catching and releasing wild trout. Fishing has improved in part due to less crowds and cooler temps signaling to the fish to get busy fattening up for winter. On cloudy days look for Blue Wing Olives to be hatching. One good way to fish them is a Parachute Adams with a small bwo nymph or emerger fished as a trailer. Even a small hopper dropper rig has worked lately along the grass edges. Last week there were still a good number of tricos coming off but that should be about the end of them. We've had some reports of Hydopsyche coming off so a Fox's Poopa could be the ticket but don't neglect fishing leaches or crystal buggers for some of Hats largest residents. 

Best flies: Hoppers, Caddis Pupae, BWO nymphs and dries and trico dries and spinners 


Klamath River Trout : Fair to Good

Flows: 1,000 to 1,100 fluctuating daily
Water temps:  high 50's
Clarity - Slight tinge of color.

We have had reports from the lower Klamath of higher than normal adult fish already in the river. and are moving up. If what were hearing is true then this is going to be a really great season up there. Right now is a great time to get and swing flies for some larger adult fish in the middle to lower river. Things will improve from Somes Bar all the way to the mouth into october. The upper section from Happy Camp to Iron Canyon will improve soon due to water releases on the Trinity bringing fish up. Stay tuned as we have some recon outings scheduled up there for this weekend. You are going to want to be on the Klamath this season if you like getting steelhead on the swing. Just remember to use both hands and hang on!

Traditional Steelhead patterns: Silver Hiltons, Anderson's Classic, Fly Fishing Specialties Alevin, Anderson Euphoria, Heisenberg, Green Butt Skunk, Falken's Tiny Dancer, Hartwick's Purple Hilton, Hobo Spey in black/blue and Black/Chart, Intruders, Perpetrators, Beach Bums, Olive Sculpins, Cream Soft Hackles and Blood Sucking Leaches. Olive buggers, U Name Its, Olive Sculpin.

Steelhead Nymphs: Birds Nests 10 -14, Copper Johns, Black or Olive Poopahs and Princes 14 -16. Micro Mays 14 to 18, Brown or Black Rubber Legs 6 - 10 and eggs ( Peachy King, Roe and Tangerine)



McCloud River Trout : Good
Flows: 245 at McCloud Res., 240 at Ah-Di-Na
Water temps: Mid 50's to low 60's. 
Clarity - Slight tinge of color.

The McCloud River is a perennial Fall favorite. Current releases from the reservoir are at 245 CFS. Lots of flow and oxygen in the McCloud River make this a favorite place for our guests and guides to be this time of year. 

Midges and small mayfly nymphs are a no brainer to have in your set up. October Caddis are also potentially on the menu so keep that in mind. Also you cant go wrong with fishing a Rubberlegs due to the plethera of stones of all sizes found in this system right now. 

Don't forget that the road to Ash Camp is still washed out so you will have to plan on hiking (3/4 mile) down to access this part of the river. Beginning in early October is when we find the huge browns in the lower river. Give us a ring to get in on this amazing fish of a lifetime type situation. 


One of the many nice browns our guests caught on the lower McCloud in October last season!

Nymphs: Black and brown Rubber Legs, GB Poxyback Green Drake, Red X May, Amberwing Prince, Dark Lords - 12-16, Hogans S&M and Mercers Micro May in 14 to 18 (black and olive producing best) Red Copper Johns 16 - 18, October Caddis Larvae and Pupae

Dry Flies: Chubby Chernobyl, Stimulator - Orange, Fat Albert, Adams 14-18, Elk Hair Caddis  Tan 12-16, Mayfly Cripples 12-16, October Caddis patterns.


Napa River - Striper
Rating: Great
Clarity: 2 to 3ft
Temps: 68 - 71




The Napa has been fishing red hot right now. This August saw tons of bait come into the river and as a result the fishing was good earlier than last year. There is still quite a bit of bait around so naturally it is going to fish well as a result. Right now most of the fish are in the middle river and not so heavy down int he lower reaches.

We had 50 fish in the boat yesterday with a 15 lb fish to top things off along with several in the 7 to 8 lb range and plenty in the 5 lb class as well. The Napa River and the S.F. Bay Delta system will fish well all the way into December. It is officially go time! Key fall dates and tides still available so call today to set something up! Call (707)287-2939 and lets hammer em while there here!

Guide Tip: Try 1/0-3/0 baitfish imitations in grey/white or chartreuse/white, Olive/white.  T-11 or T-14 lines to get your bugs down.

For more on the Napa River click here... 



Pit River - Trout
Rating: Great
Clarity: 1 to 3 ft
Temps: High 50's to low 60's
Flows: fluctuating from around 900 to 2,200 cfs daily




Recent trips continue to be super good on the Pit. Flows are fluctuating daily so be aware of that. Nymphing the myriad of pockets and runs on the Pit with Rubberlegs, Amber Wing Princes and Dark Lords are the top producers. Remember to wade carefully and take advantage of the great Fall weather and awesome scenery in Northern California. 

If you are interested in good numbers of fish away from the crowds and in truly wild country, then consider hiring one of our guides to take you to out. We still have great Fall dates available and the Pit will fish well all year long. Call us to get in on the fun(707)287-2939.


Putah Creek
Rating: Great
Flows: 300 CFS
Clarity: Clear
Water Temp: 56 Degrees





Fishing Report:  The creek is in perfect shape and producing some really nice fish recently. Putah is a really special fishery. It is home to some of the largest average fish sizes of any river or stream in California. From no until we stop fishing in December 1st for the spawn things will just continue to ramp up. Fish are already on the chow and eating midges, mayflies, and caddis. Best bet are subdued olive, or black patters on light tippet under and indicator. Putah is one of the most technical and challenging fisheries around. It is not a place where you can go and get big numbers like the Lower Sac, Pit etc, however given its close proximity to San Francisco, the Napa Valley and Sacramento makes it an ideal weekend spot to wet a line. Our guides can help make sense of the often frustrating conditions on the Creek. Remember to have good stream etiquette. Basically treat other the way you would want to be treated on the water. Give others room to fish and dont crowd them.

We field some of the best guides in the business and our personal experience on Putah goes back to the late 80's and early 90's. Let us set up a quick get away with potential for a fish of a lifetime.

Guide Tip: Expect to see quite a few people on the creek right now. If you can't handle that then perhaps fishing or guiding somewhere else may be in order.



Lower Sacramento - Trout
Rating: Great!
Flows: 8,000 CFS from Keswick
Clarity: Prime





Fishing has really turned on on the Lower Sac! Big fish are in the upper sections of the river, however there is great fishing honestly right now from the Posse grounds all the way to Los Molinos. Flows from Keswick are steady at 8,000 cfs and conditions are ideal. Salmon are in the coming into the middle and upper river in fairly good numbers which has been a welcome and missing sight in recent years. Nymphing with Birds Nests, Poopahs and our very own Bubble Back Caddis are the best offerings. By October we are encouraged that there should be an egg bite so we will switch to eggs and legs at that point. Take advantage of some of the nicest weather Nor Cal has to offer and some of the very best fishing for sizeable wild rainbows anywhere in the lower 48'.

Give us a ring to set up a trip for you on this phenominal fishery! (707)287-2939.


Guide Tip: good quality fluorocarbon tippet helps!

For more on the Lower Sac click here...



Upper Sacramento - Trout
Rating: Good 
Flows: NA
Clarity: Prime




Fishing Report: Fishing continues to rock on the Upper Sac and good water levels and clarity have helped. Fishing is good throughout the entire river however there are some nice lake fish coming up from Shasta into the lower reaches of the river. First thing in the morning try swinging a streamer down near the lake. Also nymphing with small offerings like midges and bwo's is a good call as well throughout the river. As the sun and temps come up mid day focus on the oxygenated water or that which is located just down stream or in the shadows. Tight line euro nymphing is a good way to handle the mid day conditions and can produce in spades. Don't forget that October Caddis will be happening soon and now is the time to get out there on this great section of California's most important river. Call today for availability! (707)287-2939.

Best flies have been the black and brown Rubberlegs, Poxyback Golden Stones, Princes, Micro Mays, P.T.'s, Fox's Poopahs and Zebra Midges. STREAMERS!!!


San Francisco Bay Striper 
Rating: Great
Flows: Na
Clarity: Good to poor


Water temp: 57 to 60

Fishing Report: Fishing is good and fish are in all the right spots. Fishing the right retrieve is imperative. Start with hard and fist! Mix it up though and vary your cadence. Don't forget to pause. 

Our guests have been stoked to find topwater opportunities first thing in the morning. Crease flies or gurglers are good bets. After the sun gets up we have been finding that virtually any clouser style bait fish pattern will work. White/chart, Olive/white, Black/Chart 



Striper flies: Clouer style 1/0 or 2/0 offerings in white/chart, Olive/white, Black/Chart, Crease flies, Gurglers! 


Russian River Steelhead
Rating: Poor
Flows: 160 cfs Guernville
Clarity: Good
Water temp: 68 to 71

Fishing Report: Steelhead fishing on the Russian is a late Winter early Spring affair. Stay tuned as all the water in the last two years should give us a good return. Fingers crossed and stay tuned!


Truckee River 
Rating: Fair to Good
Flows: 150 cfs
Clarity: Good



Fishing Report:  Fishing is pretty darn good on the Truckee. Cooler water temps are coming but fish are still in the faster water and pigging out. The crouds are gone too so no rafters to run over your flies. Best fishing is in the lower river below Hirschdale. Midges and small baetis are the ticket and BWO's are hatching on the Little Truckee River as well.  Expect good fishing from now all the way until the water gets down right cold at the end of November.  

Guide Tip: Nymphing is the ticket right now. Still some dry fly fishing on the LT.  Fish are in the pocket water making high sticking techniques really effective.

Nymphs: Specific patterns include Golden Stones 10 to 14, San Juan worms, 16 or 18 Ju Ju Baetis, Hogan's Military May and S&M in 16 to 18 and size 10 Rubber Legs, Skwala Stone - 16, Speroni's Skwala - 16, Fox's Poopahs, Dirty Birds, GB Prince Nymphs and regular and GB Birds Nests 12 - 16.

Dries: Carpenter Ants,  Extended body BWO 18-22, Adam's Parachute 16 to 20, Christian's GT Adult 18-20, Missing Link 14 - 18, Quiggly's Hackle Stacker 14 - 16, CDC Thorax 14 - 18, BWO Parachutes -18, PMD Hackle Stacker -16.



Trinity River Steelhead, Fair. Salmon - Fair
Flows: 550 cfs (Lewiston)

Clarity: Clear


Fishing Report:  The Trinity river remains one of the top rivers on the West Coast to catch Steelhead on a fly rod. Steelheading is never easy however this great piece of water is one of the most reliable year in and year out. Currently fishing is fair but about to go off! Steelhead are in lower river and middle river. Some nice fish are being hooked even on the swing right now. Chinook Salmon are in the system so early October there should be a good egg bite. Fish are super hot right now and are cartwheeling and peeling off line when hooked. We suggest going now if swinging is your thing and crowds are not. It won't be long before the fish hunker down and nymphing in the usual floats will be the name of the game.
Steelhead Nymphs: Birds Nests 10 -14, Copper Johns, Black or Olive Poopahs and Princes 14 -16. Micro Mays 14 to 18, Brown or Black Rubber Legs 6 - 10 and eggs ( Peachy King, Roe and Tangerine)



Traditional Steelhead patterns: Silver Hiltons, Anderson's Classic, Fly Fishing Specialties Alevin, Anderson Euphoria, Heisenberg, Green Butt Skunk, Falken's Tiny Dancer, Hartwick's Purple Hilton, Hobo Spey in black/blue and Black/Chart, Intruders, Perpetrators, Beach Bums, Olive Sculpins, Cream Soft Hackles and Blood Sucking Leaches. Olive buggers, U name its, Olive Sculpin.




Yosemite - Trout -Good
Flows: Great
Temps: 56 - 63

Fishing Report: fishing is good. Lots of water and cooling temps have created good fishing from the valley floor to the back country. Now is the time to go. Dry dropper with Caddis or Adams and small nymphs will do the trick. No need to get fancy.


Yuba River - Trout - Good
Flows: Average 2,700 cfs
Temps: 56 - 57


Fishing Report: Fishing is good on the Yuba River right now. Some salmon had been in the river but just not thick.  Last Thursday saw salmon below bridge. Some 16 to 24" central valley steelhead caught. This great sleeper river will fish well all Fall as well and into the Winter as long as rains are not too crazy.

We had a fantastic Spring for Shad/striper on the Lower Yuba this year. Things are still going fairly strong but should taper off soon. We have some of the very best private access to the best part of the Lower Yuba and fishing there has been insane. High water years like this the run begins later but seems to run longer. We had 100 fish days again this year. Some days we've caught Shad, Striper and trout all on the same day. We are all booked for Shad on the Yuba for the rest of the season. Perhaps do like many of our guests have done and reserve your 2020 dates so you don't miss out. For now though. Its time to chase trout!



Thanks for reading the report. If you enjoyed it please don't forget to like and share... If you have any photos or personal reports to share please email them to mike@offthehookflyfishing or call Mike at (707)287-2939.



Tight lines everyone!