Copyright 2016 James Marsh
Fly Fishing On The McCloud River In
The McCloud River is one of the main tributaries of the
Sacramento River. It has the famous Oncorhynchus
Mykiss species of rainbow trout that has been used to
stock many streams throughout the World. McCloud
rainbows have been used to first stock most of New
Zealand, and parts of Argentina and Chile along with
many other trout fisheries all across the western
The Upper McCloud River’s headwaters are south of Mt.
Shasta near the small town of McCloud.
The river starts in a meadow type situation with springs
and water that is almost still in places. Near the Algoma
camp the stream picks up more water from small
branches and springs. The stream runs through a small
canyon into another meadow.
Below Lakin Dam the river falls into another canyon.
There are a total of three waterfalls in this area - Upper,
Middle and Lower. There is short section with good fishing
above the first waterfall.
The section below Fowler Camp and between Middle Falls
and Lower Falls has some deep pockets a big rocks that
provide excellent pocket water. Below the Upper and
Middle falls, the stream there are some very deep pools.
The Loop Road off highway #89 will take you to Fowler
Camp near where the stream's headwaters begin. These
trout are plentiful and respond to dry flies very well. This
is a beautiful stretch of water that requires quite a lot of
effort to fish. The area has bears, eagles, fox, deer and
cougars that add to the adventure.
Below Fowler Camp the river drops a lot and gets even
rougher in character with heavy pocket water. This
section flows into McCloud Reservoir. Fly fishing the
McCloud River in this section requires a lot of effort.
The lower section of the McCloud River flows from the
McCloud Reservoir to Shasta Lake. Most of the lower
section is controlled by private clubs but there are three
miles of public water. The public section starts at Ash
Camp below the reservoir and tumbles down to the Ah-Di-
The Ah-Di-Na Nature Conservancy area is strictly catch
and release rules with barbless hooks only. It provides
three additional miles of water. Access to the Nature
Conservancy part of the McCloud River is limited to ten
anglers per day.
This river is known for its huge hatches of stoneflies,
especially its large Salmonflies and Golden Stoneflies.
October Caddis is another of the favorite aquatic insects.
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Recommended Tackle & Gear
4, 5 or 6 weight
Dry fly: 9 &12 ft., 5 or 6X, Nymphing: 71/2
ft., 3 or 4X, Streamers 0X
Dry fly: 5 or 6X, Nymphing: 3 or 4X,
Best Fly Rod:
Perfect Fly Supreme Four, Superb Five or
For 4/5/6 fly line
Fly Floatants and Misc Items:
Loon Floatants, KISS Strike Indicators
Tools & Accessories:
Nippers, forceps, retractors, etc.
The season runs from the last
Saturday in April through November
Spring is the best time to for fly fishing
the McCloud River. May and June are
the best two months.
Fly Fishing Guide, continued:
The Lower McCloud River, between
McCloud Reservoir and Shasta Lake, is
mostly private. The Bollibokka and McCoud
River private clubs control most of the
water. There are three miles of public water
in this section that provides some excellent
fly fishing opportunities. It too, is made of
mostly of heavy pocket water.
The public access fishing starts at Ash
Camp just downstream of the reservoir and
falls at a steep declination downstream to
There are three more miles of public access
water in the Nature Conservancy below
Ah-Di-Na Camp. Hiding is required to fish
this water but it is well worth the effort. It is
steep country with lots of plunge pools and
short cascades. It is rugged country and
again, we suggest you have someone along
with you in case you sprang and ankle or
fall and hurt yourself. It could be a tough
proposition getting out by yourself.
Access to The Nature Conservancy section
is limited. Only ten anglers per day are
allowed to fish the area. This keeps anglers
from having to fish behind others
frequently. You can reserve time on this
section but five are issued on a first come,
first serve basis. Reservations can be made
by calling 415-777-0487.
McCloud River Fly Fishing Guide:
The McCloud River is quite different than
most northern California trout streams. It is
more classic run, riffle and pool type water
but with plenty of boulders and riffles. It is
surrounded by thick evergreen forest. The
forest helps keep the river flowing cool. The
river has a good pH level that keeps the
aquatic insect populations very high.
Nymph fishing is probably the most all around
productive fishing method but there are also
plenty of large hatches that keep the dry fly
angler well pleased. The river flows through
beautiful canyons that provide the prefect fly
fishing background. Fly fishing the McCloud
River is much about the overall experience,
not just hooking and landing trout.
The headwaters of the McCloud River come
from underground springs. That provides a
higher than normal pH level for the freestone
stream and is responsible for its large aquatic
insect population. This area is near the little
town of McCloud. There is a section of fine
looking pocket water in the area full of small
to medium size rainbows that are always
eager to take your fly. High sticking this
sections is always productive although it does
have its fair share of hatches.
The waterfalls in the area prevent upstream
migration of the rainbow and brown trout.
Below Fowler Camp, the McCloud river flows
through some very rugged country and
consist mostly of heavy pocket water. You
need to be in good shape to fish this part of
the river. We suggest having a partner along
with you in the event of an accident. The
stream falls rapidly with short runs and plenty
of steep plunges and small but sometimes
deep pools. The river then flows through the
Hearst property and on into McCloud
Our information on aquatic insects is based on
our stream samples of larvae and nymphs, not
guess work. We base fly suggestions on
imitating the most plentiful and most available
insects and other foods at the particular time
you are fishing.
Unlike the generic fly shop trout flies, we have
specific imitations of all the insects in the
McCloud River and in all stages of life that is
applicable to fishing. If you want to fish better,
more realistic trout flies, have a much higher
degree of success, give us a call. We not only
will help you with selections, you will learn why,
after trying Perfect Flies, 92% of the thousands
of our customers will use nothing else.
Hatches begin on the McCloud River as soon
as the season opens the last Saturday in April.
Blue-winged Olives, some baetis species and
some not, will be hatching from the opening
day though about half of June. Pale Morning
Dun will also be hatching from opening day and
they will continue through the entire month of
The largest hatches will be stoneflies and the
largest of the stoneflies will be the Giant
Salmonflies. They will hatch from opening day
through May and into the first part of June.
Golden Stoneflies will begin to hatch the last
part of May and continue through the month of
June. At times, both Goldens and Salmonflies
will be present.
Little Yellow Stoneflies will also begin to hatch
near the end of May and continue through
June and into the first part of July. Do not
underestimate these smaller size stoneflies.
They can produce as many trout as the large
ones. Anglers tend to overfish the adult
imitations of these stoneflies and under fish the
nymphs. The nymphs crawl out of the water in
the late afternoons and evenings to hatch and
an imitation of the nymph presented near the
banks can produce some giant catches of both
browns and rainbows.
In addition to the mayflies and stoneflies,
caddisflies will hatch from opening day and
throughout most of the entire season. There
are several species of Spotted Sedges, and
these represent the majority of the caddis.
Green Sedges will hatch from mid June
through July and into early August. The
larvae of the Green Sedge will produce
throughout the season. These are called
There are also some Little Sister Caddis
that hatch in July and August. There are a
few other species that hatch in the
Summer but the above represents the
majority of them.The stream has much less
pressure from anglers during July, August
and September. The fishing opportunities
continue to be good but most anglers stop
fishing as soon as the stonefly hatches are
over. That can be a big mistake. The
McCloud River stays cool all summer long.
The deep canyons are shaded from the
sun much of the day.
Caddisflies will represent the bulk of the
hatches during the Summer but the PMDs
will continue to hatch in sparse numbers.
Late September, October, & November is a
great time to fish the McCloud River. The
giant October Caddisfly hatch gets most of
the attention but more trout can be taken
on the second phase of the Blue-winged
Olive hatch. These little mayflies will
continue to hatch even when the water
temperature gets down into the low forties
The big October Caddis will hatch about
the entire month of October and on into
November some years. The most
productive fly is an imitation of the October
Caddis pupae. Fish an imitation of the
adults only when you see trout taking them
from the surface during the egg laying
Brown trout begin their annual upstream
migration Shasta Lake. The pre-spawn
brown trout become aggressive and will
usually attack a streamer that imitates a
baitfish or sculpin. Sculpin patterns become
deadly around the spawning time. The
naturals steal the eggs and the trout well
Summer is also a good time to fish the
McCloud. Its canyon stretches stay
cool underneath the canopy of the
forest. There are less anglers fishing.
Fly fishing the McCloud River during
the Fall is also a great time to fish the
river. Brown trout spawn in the Fall.
|1. Email us (firstname.lastname@example.org)
with the dates you will be fishing this
stream and we will send you a list of our
fly suggestions. Please allow up to 24
hours for a response.
2. Call us 800-594-4726 and we will help
you decide which flies you need.
3. Email us (email@example.com)
with a budget for flies and we will select
them to match the budget and get them to
you in time for your fly fishing trip.
All orders are shipped free in the
U. S. Orders over $50 are shipped via
Headlines: The river is high and
continuing to rise. It is doubtful
wading will be possible this coming
week. There is a chance of rain
everyday. The Blue-winged olives
should continue to hatch even
better with all the cloud cover but
the hatches will be tough to
impossible to fish. Streamers
should be your first choice. Keep
up with the latest fishing conditions
by clicking the above link to our
weekly update McCloud River
10/22/15 The McCloud isn't crowded but that's about the only big plus. It is still cloudy but
anglers are managing to catch trout consistently. The big October Caddis are at the peak of
their hatch and trout are taking egg laying females from the surface. There are a few
hatches taking place. We base our recommendations on aquatic insect and other food
stream samplings, not trial an error.
10/21/15 Great conditions exist on the McCloud river right now. The weather is nice and
comfortable and the trout very active. Water temperature is about 50 degrees. Blue-winged
olives and October Caddis are the main hatches. The the female egg layering October
Caddis are bringing trout to the surface in the afternoons. The river is still a little cloudy in
places but the trout are use to it.
10/28/15 The cooler weather in the forecast for this coming week should help. There is also
a good chance of some rain this weekend and even some snow the first of next week.
October Caddis are still hatching. Blue-winged Olives are also hatching. We didn't receive
any reports from anyone fishing this past week but conditions were about the same as the
11/05/15 A reminder that you need to fish as soon as you can. The season ends on the
15th of November. Conditions are very good right now. The water clarity has improved, and
the temperature is cooler. Blue-winged olives and midges are hatching good and trout are
being caught on the surface as well as on nymphs.
11/12/15 Another season is coming to an end in three days. Meantime, the trout are
unaware of it and taking flies like it is going to continue. Blue-winged olives and midges are
not aware of it either. They keep making an appearance. Get off the couch and go hook a
few nice rainbows. You don't have much longer to do it.
11/26/15 The season closed today, November 15, 2015. We will resume the reports when it
get close to the season opener.
04/28/16 Counting down, there is only two more days left in the off-season and to plan your
next McCloud River fly fishing trip.
Send us an email and let us help you plan your next trip to the McCloud River. Planning
ahead will help you get the better times on the water with the right gear and flies. We have
taken samples of the aquatic insects using professional entomology equipment and know
what is in the river that's most plentiful and available at any time of the season. We are the
only company in the World with specific imitations of all the aquatic insects in all stages of
life applicable to fly fishing.
05/05/12 The season got off to a busy start. You needed to have a rock reserved to make a
cast. It will slow down, the numbers of anglers that is, because there are flood warning out
for the next two days with rising stream levels. We think this will take into the middle of next
week or more, to clear and drop.
05/12/16 The stream levels have been high but falling and getting into good shape. Our
customers are starting to catch some good numbers of trout and some on dry flies. There
are several hatches underway and more to start up very soon. The water is getting warmer
06/12/16We received two good reports from customers this past week. They caught lots of
trout and many on top on dry flies. The weather is cooling down just a little with lots of rain in
the forecast. Keep a close check on the stream levels but otherwise, conditions are very
06/26/16 The McCloud is in good shape with good stream levels and mostly clear water.
The weather is going to be warmer with clear skies for the next few days. Hatches should
increase with the warmer water temperature. Two customers reporting catching a lot of trout
this past week.
06/02/16 The weather is getting warm as I'm sure most everyone knows. From a fishing
standpoint, that is going to increase the hatch activity. The Green Drakes should really get
to going now. Most of the hatching are one the middle and lower sections but some are
taking place about everywhere.
06/09/16 The river continued to fish well even though it was hot this past week. The weather
is going to be much cooler or normal this coming week. Too many anglers think they need a
guide to fish the McCloud. That is simply not true at all. The techniques and strategies isn't
that much different from many other trout streams.
06/16/16 Our customers are reporting some very good catches from the past week. Lots of
insects are hatching and they vary from the upper to the lower sections fo the river. PMDs
and Green Drakes are the important mayflies. Spotted Sedges and Green sedges are the
important caddisflies. Golden stoneflies are still hatching good in some sections.
06/23/16 The stream levels are in very good shape with mostly clear water. Our customers
keep sending in some good reports. There are lot of Pale Morning duns hatching, and lots
of Spotted sedges and Green sedges, or caddisflies. They are providing some great late
afternoon action during the egg laying. Fish the pupa during the hatch.
06/30/16 The conditions are as good as they get at this time of the year. Lots of insects are
hatching. Green drakes, Speckled wing quills, Blue-winged olives, lots of Pale Morning
duns, Spotted sedges, green sedges, little short-horned sedges, Golden stoneflies and
Yellow sallies. The water is clear as it gets and our customers are catching some very good
07/07/16 The weather is going to be much cooler this coming week. We don't think that is
going to adversely affect the fly fishing opportunity. It will make it more comfortable to fish.
We received two good reports this past week. Not only did they catch a lot of trout, many
can from the surface on the dry fly.
07/14/16 The weather is back to its normal summer temperatures and the cool spell over.
The hatches will begin to slow down. the big Drakes are about done. There are little Yellow
stoneflies hatching but the Goldens are about done. There are a lot of caddisflies hatching.
The egg laying caddis activity late in the day offers your best opportunity to catch trout.
07/21/16 As everyone knows, the weather is going to be very hot. Fish early and late in the
day. The last two or three hours of daylight provides your best opportunity to catch trout.
You have egg laying caddisflies and little Yellow stoneflies. During the day, PMD nymphs
would be a good choice of flies.
07/28/16 We received a good report from a customer last week that caught several trout
and only fished about four hours. He fished very early and very late, until dark. There are a
lot of egg laying caddis and little Yellow stoneflies and that will bring the trout to the surface
to feed on them.
08/04/16 The river is still in decent shape in spite of the lack of rain and heat. It is going to
be a little cooler this coming week. Pale Morning Duns are still hatching good. There are still
some Little yellow stonefly hatches. There are lots of caddis and Tricos are beginning to
08/11/16 The water has been a little off color in some places but the levels are in good
shape from mid summer. There are still some PMDs, little BWOs, size 20, Spotted sedges,
little Sister caddis and other insects hatching. Fish early mornings and the last two or three
hours of the day for the best results. The spinner falls and egg laying caddis bring fish to
the surface to feed late in the day.
08/18/16 The stream is in good shape with clear water. The weather is going to be very hot
this coming week, but cooling down some near the end of the week. We recommend fishing
Sculpin streamers like our Olive and Black Matuka sculpin patterns in the early mornings.
You should also do well imitating the egg laying caddis the last two or three hours of the day.
08/25/16 The weather is going to be a little cooler this coming week. The stream levels will
remain about the same. Fish early mornings and late in the day for the best results.
Caddisfly hatches are the main insect activity taking place. The late afternoon egg laying
gives you some good dry fly opportunity. Tricos are hatching in the lower section of the river.
09/01/16 This is what everyone has been waiting for - cooler weather. That is going to make
a difference in the water temperature before the coming week is over. That is going to make
a huge difference in the activity of the trout. There are still hatches of little BWOs, some
Tricos and lots of caddisflies taking place. Now, is a great time to get on the river.
09/08/16 The river is in good shape from a stream level and water temperature standpoint.
Right now there is a lot of smoke in the area from a nearby fire. It is likely that it will remain
there most of the next few days. Make sure you check on the status of the fire before
traveling there to fish. .
09/15/16 The few anglers fishing are reporting some decent catches. Conditions have
changed very little this past two weeks. There are more larger Blue-winged olives starting to
hatch and Mahogany duns are starting to show up as well. PMDs are done for the year.
Damsel and dragon fly nymphs are working along with ants, beetles and hoppers.
09/22/16 There will be a couple of cool nights and lower high temps for the day. Hopefully,
that will be an indication Fall isn't all that far off. It may trigger some trout to move out of the
lake's deep water into the river. The stream levels are still very low and won't change
anytime soon. You can still catch trout provided you first don't spook them.
09/29/16 The river is in very good shape in all sections. The stream levels are good and the
water clear and cooler. Hatches are coming along good, with lots of larger baetis Blue-
winged olives and some Mahogany duns. There are still plenty of Spotted Sedges. Our
customers are doing good using the Brown sculpin in the early mornings and when it is
10/06/16 The cool weather of last week tended to confuse some fishing the McCloud. The
water temperature changed very little an the weather had little to do with anything. It is going
to be back near normal this coming week. There are still plenty of Blue-winged Olives
hatching. These are baetis size 16s.