Copyright 2017 James Marsh
Fly Fishing Putah Creek California
Putah Creek is a unique tailwater fishery that was
created by the construction of Monticello Dam. Before
dams were built on the creek, it was a natural Steelhead
spawning area that the dams and resulting lakes
destroyed. The dam didn't destroy all the fishing
opportunities though. It just created another one that
otherwise would never exist. Like many tailwaters in the
warm southeastern United States, the dam created a
cold, rainbow trout fishery. This one lies in the foothills of
the Sacramento Valley of northern California providing
good fly fishing opportunities for trout within close range
of the Bay Area and Sacramento.
Putah Creek flows from the Coast Range of Northern
California into Lake Berryessa but it's the section of the
creek below Monticello Dam that's offers excellent
year-round trout fishing. The water, which is discharged
from the lower part of the lake, stays cool in the hot
Summer and doesn't freeze in the cold Winter. It has a
good population of aquatic insects and a thriving
population of trout that grow year-round.
Large trout move upstream from Lake Solano, located
downstream of Monticello Dam. Trout up to twenty
inches have been caught. There are also some large
brown trout that migrate upstream during the Fall from
Discharges from the dam are based on agricultural
demands. Flows can vary from 60 to 90 cfs during the
cooler months up to 500 cfs and more during the warm
months. Most of the time during late Spring, Summer and
early part of the Fall, large amounts of water is
discharged to assist agricultural needs further
downstream. By the middle of the Fall Season, the flow
usually drop, providing great fly fishing opportunities. Fly
Fishing Putah Creek during late Autumn can be a very
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Photo Courtesy of Stephen Lamb
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 year-round, see special
regulation on your left
Early Springtime is usually good provided
the discharges are reasonable
You can catch fish during the Summer but
wading is usually out due to the high
discharges. Most fishing is done close to
the banks from the banks
Putah Creek Fly Fishing Guide:
Putah Creek is a very productive wild trout fishery but
the trout are not necessarily easy to catch. Some
anglers call them technical fish, meaning they can be
rather selective as to what they eat. The different flows
are usually the difficult part to master. The flows are
often to high to wade. Anything about 250-300 cfs
makes for tough wading conditions.
Keep in mind that during the Winter a many of trout in
are either stocked trout that haven't be use to eating
the natural aquatic insects and other trout foods in the
cree. Some are spawning fish that have moved
upstream from the lake. This makes the fly choice
deceptive at times because you don't necessarily know
what your fishing for. Stocked trout aren't selective
and the wild ones are. It is best to base your fly
selection on catching wild trout. The stockers will hit
about anything at times but the wild ones won't.
Access to the water is easy. State highway #128 runs
parallel with Putah Creek between Winters and Napa.
There are five county operated fishing accesses. They
are placed in ideal locations with anglers in mind. You
pay a small fee to park at the access areas but you
can park along the road. You can also access the
creek just below the dam.
Though the creek drops at a relatively low declination
and there are some long stretches of slack water.
When the flows are low, the creek is quite different and
fish are usually located in the deeper runs. High
sticking is popular and a good way to fish the deeper
Putah Creek Hatches and Trout Flies:
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 Putah Creek and in all stages of life
that are 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.
There isn't a lot of diversity in the aquatic
insect population. The most plentiful species
are Blue-winged Olives and Midges. The
BWOs consist of several different species
including about five Baetis species. These
hatch in the spring and early summer and
again in the Fall.
Baitfish and sculpin are plentiful. Often,
sculpin pattern streamers is a very good fly
selection. It is best to fish them during low
Fly fishing Putah Creek during the late Fall
can be very productive
Fishing is good on all but the very coldest
days of the Winter.
Midges hatch year-round but are more
important during the cold months when few
other insects are around. Most of the
midges are cream colored but there is also
some light green colors and a few blood, or
red midges. Quite often, fishing imitations of
midges is about the only way to go.
Putah has several species of caddisflies,
most of which are net-spinning caddis
called Spotted Sedges. There are several
species including some called Little Sisters.
The Spotted Sedges hatch off and on,
depending on the exact species from April
though October. They range in hook size
from a 14 to a 18. There are also a few
Green Sedges. These hatch in May and
Terrestrial are popular in the Summer. The
banks have plenty of ants and beetles and
grass hoppers are fairly common.
Putah Creek Fishing Report:
11/05/13 We haven't had any fly orders for
Putah Creek recently but our local contact
is saying the fishing has been good in the
tailwater using our red (blood) midges and
cream midges. He is fishing a double rig
with the pupa on top and larva on the
01/02/14 Stream flowing at 107 cfs at 6.09
ft. which is a little above normal winter
levels. Customer ordering our Perfect Fly
Brown sculpin streamers and various
midges report fishing has been excellent.
The weather is extra good.
Fishing Report Updated 02/16/17
(Bottom Of Page)
02/04/14 Customer orders Perfect Fly
midges, cream and red or blood larvae and
pupae imitations reporting catching some
03/06/14 Local contact reporting fishing has
been excellent for the past two weeks. He is
fishing our PF BWO nymphs, size 18.
03/13/14 Discharges should be good for
angler this coming week. Fishing continues
to be excellent with great weather
conditions except more rain is badly
03/20/14 Two customers reporting excellent
fishing during the past week. Steam levels
have been good for sight fishing is some
areas and some nice browns are being
03/27/14 Good flows and good weather
has continued to make this one of the
04/03/14 I'm sure some locals don't like us
promoting Putah. It is a small tailwater stream
but this is the Internet age. Get over it.
04/10/14 Two good reports of some nice
trout caught this past week by customers
using our BWO and Sculpin streamers.
|Options For Selecting Flies:
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
04/17/14 Good weather and good discharges
continue to make Putah a hot spot for trout
04/24/14 Fishing continues to be excellent.
According to our local contact and one
customer, there have been fish caught on
both our BWOs and streamers.
05/01/14 Conditions have continued to be
excellent. There is much warmer weather in
the forecast this coming week.
05/08/14 For the first time in a long time, we
received no reports from anyone.
Conditions are near the same and the
fishing should be good.
05/15/14 Anglers are still catching plenty of
trout. Flows have been good for wading and
some decent size trout were reported
caught by our local contact and one
customer ordering more flies.
05/22/14 Anglers still reporting good
conditions and plenty of fish being caught.
Most are using our Sculpin streamer
patterns fished deep.
05/29/14 Two big browns were caught this
past week by one of our customers.
Conditions have remained about the
same for some time now.
06/05/14 Try crawling our Brown Sculpin
streamer fly on the bottom in the bottom of
the deeper pools late in the day for the
06/19/14 We didn't receive any reports this
past week but conditions appear to be the
same and fish should be being caught.
06/26/14 Our local contact reports few
trout being caught but what are caught are
large. Anglers doing well are fishing late
and into the evening.
07/03/14 No reports from customers this
past week. Our local contact is on vacation.
Conditions remain about the same, or low
water flows and hot weather.
07/17/14 The action is slow but at least one
of our customers has caught some nice size
trout nymphing the deeper water this past
07/24/14 Only one angler reporting this past
week and he wasn't exactly happy. As I'm
sure everyone knows, more rain and cooler
weather is needed.
08/01/14 No reports came in from the past
08/14/14 According to a customer, fishing
has been tough the past week with few
anglers even trying. He has picked up two
nice fish, fishing near dark.
8/28/14 Anglers are catching a few trout
fishing two completely different ways - Using
midges and size 20 BWO nymphs and
Matuka Sculpin streamers very late in the
09/11/14 We didn't receive any reports from
anglers this past week. Conditions are about
the same. We suggest you fish very early
and very late in the day.
09/25/14 One customer reported catching a
few nice browns. Like everywhere else in
the state, more rain is needed.
10/09/14 There has been little change in
conditions and fishing is still slow. Most
anglers catching trout are using midges and
10/16/14 The flows are back down but
there's a slight chance of rain Friday and
again the first of next week. No reports from
last week ..
10/23/14 One customer complaining and one
reporting he caught some nice brown trout.
Putah isn't a pushover and I think that's the
10/30/14 No reports from the past week but
conditions are even better and fish can be
caught by those using the right strategies
12/03/14 The rain will help big time but now it
is flowing high with rain forecast everyday for
the next week. This is very good news.
12/18/14 Watch the discharges. They will likely
be high at times, otherwise conditions are good.
12/25/14 Two good reports from the past
two weeks. Customers were using our White
Belly and Brown Sculpin streamers.
01/01/15 Another good report. Flows have
been good at times and midges and streamers
01/15/15 Two more good reports and one not
so good this past two weeks. Midges are the
best bet at this time. Creams and Reds are
both working. Fish the lava and pupa in
01/22/15 Very nice weather and continued
good flows have increase the activity and the
catching some. Midges are still the main thing
01/29/15 We didn't hear form anyone this past
week but the conditions remain very good.
02/05/15 Two good reports came in this past
week. Customers are catching trout on
Cream and Red (blood) midges and the
Brown Sculpin streamer.
02/12/15 Water has a little stain to it but our
Yellow and White Marabou Sculpin streamers
caught some fish this past week.
02/19/15 Conditions have remained good but
we didn't receive any reports from anyone
02/26/15 We received two mixed reports last
week, one good and one complaining about
the fishing. Conditions remain fair.
03/05/15 Great weather ahead and better
water conditions. Yes, it is a little technical but
done right, you can catch some nice trout.
03/19/15 As we often do, we received good
and bad reports from angler the past two
weeks. Some use the right flies, techniques
and strategies and others don't.
03/26/15 High discharges has made it tough
to fish this past week. Keep an eye on them.
04/16/15 Things are pretty well back to normal
with wadable levels and a few trout being
caught by those using the right strategies.
04/23/15 One good report from a regular this
past week. Conditions are actually as good as
they have been in a couple of months.
05/07/15 Conditions are near the same but
the reports are down for some reason. Still
some midges and BWOs hatches. There has
been a few short-horned sedges come off.
05/21/15 Flows are at 510 cfs and 7.92 ft. No
reports from any anglers fishing this past week.
05/28/15 Flows are up just a little. Still no
reports from anyone fishing.
06/11/15 The flows are in good shape at 611
cfs, One customers reported catching two
browns this past week. Fished three hours.
06/18/15 No reports from anyone fishing.
Why, we don't know. Conditions are fine.
07/02/15 Flows are at 652 cfs at 8.46 ft. Still
no reports from anyone fishing.
07/09/15 One good report for a change. Some
nice browns on sculpin. Flows are a little lower
and much cooler weather is taking place.
07/16/15 No reports from anyone fishing last
week. The cooler weather should help.
07/23/15 One good report from a regular
angler and customer. Light fluorocarbon tippet
and high sticking is the best method right now.
07/30/15 No reports, warmer weather and
slower water but the fish will still eat. Few
anglers are trying, according to one report.
08/13/15 I'm sure if your local you are aware of
the exceptionally hot weather forecast this
week. I don't see any smoke warning though..
08/20/15 Highs will remain in the low nineties
and stream levels 471 cfs, or just below normal.
Fish early and late crawling sculpin streamers
through the deeper areas on the bottom.
08/27/15 The weather will be very hot for the
next couple of day, cool down a tad but stay
hot. Early mornings are best. Use Sculpin
09/03/15 The weather is going to be much
cooler this coming week, and that is going to
help the situation. Rain is badly needed
09/10/15 The creek is back below normal
levels and the cool weather didn't last long.
Long, light leaders and tippet and strealth will
be required to fool them.
09/17/15 Still no rain in the forecast, very hot
weather in the high nineties. Fish can be
caught, but it is tough.
Map of Putah Creek
09/24/15 The weather is still going to be very
hot.. Fish still eat when it is hot and the water is
low but they are tougher to catch. You have t
stay hidden and make good presentations.
10/02/15 Stream levels are up near normal
and the weather much cooler. This should
make a big difference. Size 20 BWOs are
10/15/15 Flows down to 123 cfs right now.
That makes it tough to catch trout but easy to
wade. It is still tiny BWO nymph time. No rain in
the forecast but maybe a little cooler weather.
10/29/15 One good report came in last week.
Two browns over 16 inches were caught using
the Brown Sculpin streamer. Blue-winged
olives in size 20 and 16 are starting to hatch.
11/05/15 No reports from anyone fishing.
Cooler weather is really helping but it is getting
down to fishng BWO nymphs and Midges and
of course, Sculpin streamers.
11/12/15 One good report from a local customer
this past week. He hooked a few browns, with
one good one. The Brown Sculpin streamer
crawled in the deep water near bottom was the
11/19/15 If it was easy to catch them and you
got one every cast, you would get bored and
take up golf. Keep the nymph or streamer an
inch off the bottom and moving slowly.
11/26/15 One report of a few trout being caught
this past week. The stream levels are staying up
a little above the normal low level. The weather
and water is just a little colder and that should
12/03/15 The stream levels is currently up to
129 cfs and 6.25 ft. There is more rain coming
Sunday and Monday. With the water high, fish
the Brown Sculpin streamer.
12/10/15 There is a 100% chance of rain
everyday through Monday. You can fish when
they are not releasing a large amount of water
but it all depends on that. The rain is welcome.
12/24/15 The stream flow is 142 cfs at 6.32 ft.
high. That's about twice normal. It isn't safe to
wade. There is more rain through today and
clearing up for Christmas Day. You can fish
streamers from the banks and high stick some
nymphs in some places from the bank.
12/31/15 The stream is down to 128 cfs and
that is a good level. There is no rain until the
first of next week. Midges, BWO nymphs and
our White Belly or Brown sculpin will work.
01/07/16 Stream flows are holding steady at
116 cfs but watch them carefully. There is rain
forecast everyday for the coming week.
Streamers is your best option for flies.
01/14/16 Stream flows are still a little high (126
cfs) but streamers like our White Belly sculpin
should work very good.
01/21/16 The stream flows are up and down
but currently at 119 cfs and 6.18 feet, which is
a good level. Lots of rain but otherwise
conditions are very good right now.
01/28/16 Stream levels are still okay, just a
little high, but rain is in the forecast every day
for the next week but Sunday. What the levels.
02/04/16 The stream levels are still above
normal enough to make it tough to wade.
There's no rain or snow forecast, so the
discharges should soon subside. It is warmer
and Blue-winged olives (size 18/20) could hatch.
02/11/16 Discharges are staying about the
same and keeping the stream level just above
normal. Midges, Winter stones and Black Flies
and the flies you need.
02/18/16 The levels are up some, running 108
cfs and 6.10 ft. Streamers like the brown and
white belly sculpin work great under these
conditiions. One good report from the past week.
02/25/16 We keep getting confusing questions
about barbless hooks. The regulations allow
anglers to mash the barbs down on hooks.
03/03/16 Stream levels and discharges are
okay now, but very likely to increase. There is
rain forecast every day for the next week.
Sculpin streamers will be a good fly choice.
03/10/16 So far, discharges have been up only
a day and normal flows have existed most of
the time. There is a lot more rain to come.
03/17/16 The stream level and discharges are
back down to below normal, and conditions are
good. BWOs are hatching good.
03/24/16 Stream levels are still low, the water
clear and conditions good. Stay hidden and fish
midge larva/;pupa in tandem, creams or reds.
03/31/16 The is no rain in the forecast. The
discharges are low but good for wading. The
weather is going to be Clear, nice and warm.
04/07/15 The levels are still low but there is a
lot of rain on the way and that will be changing
soon. BWOs and midges are hatching.
04/14/16 A good report from a customer using
our Brown Sculpin streamer this past week.
Discharges and flows are good.
04/21/16 There is still plenty of water being
discharged and streamers like our Brown
sculpin continue to work to catch the larger fish.
04/28/16 Flows are okay but a little strong, so
be careful if you wade. The regular season
opens in three more days.
05/12/16 The discharges and stream levels are
good. Customers are reporting little Black
caddis, lots of Blue-winged olives and little
Short-horned sedges just starting to hatch.
05/19/16 The discharges and stream levels
are good and the hatches listed above taking
place. Conditions are good.
06/02/16 The stream levels are back up to
normal for a change. Green sedge caddis are
starting to hatch good. We received two good
reports from yesterday.
06/16/16 The flows are back up to 638 cfs,
which is strong but good levels. High sticking
PMD nymphs is working good, Early and late
and during cloudy skies use Sculpin Streamers.
06/23/16 Stream levels and discharges are
still in good shape, a little high but okay. Two
good reports of catches from this past week.
06/30/16 The flows are currently up a little
making it difficult to wade. We suggest
fishing early with Sculpin streamers, and
near dark with adult spotted sedge for the
egg laying caddis.
07/07/16 The discharges and resulting
stream level are in good shape. Wading is
possible in some areas. You may even be
able to get some to eat on the surface.
Much cooler weather is on the way.
07/21/16 Stream levels and discharges are
low providing easy wading. Fish near the dam
and early and late in the day.
07/28/16 Tricos are hatching good. Fish the
spinner fall in the morning and hatch mid to
08/11/16 Discharges and stream flows are
still good. The weather is going to be very
hot with highs reaching a 100 or better. Trico
hatches continue. Fish early mornings.
09/01/16 The weather is finally getting cooler
and within the next day or two will begin to
make a difference in the water temperature.
Flows are still low and providing good wading
opportunity. Blue-winged olives should start
hatching good soon along with the caddisflies.
09/15/16 The flows remain good for wading,
or just a little below normal. Few hatches are
taking place. Damselfly and Dragon fly
nymphs are working. Sculpin streamers
fished early morning are working good.
09/29/16 Conditions are very good. Stream
levels are normal. BWOs are hatching good.
Sculpin streamers are working good early
mornings and under low light conditions.
10/13/16 The stream levels are low right
now, at 135 cfs at 6.44 feet. That will soon
change. There are chances of rain about
everyday for the next week. Watch the levels.
10/20/16 discharges and stream level are
still low at 46 cfs & 5.70 feet. Easy to wade.
10/27/16 We received two good reports from
the past week. Stream levels are still low but
it is raining and will continue all week. Watch
the levels before traveling very far to fish.
11/10/16 We received one good report this
past week. Two larger browns and good
numbers of small one. Low discharges still exist.
Blue-winged olives and midges are hatching.
11/24/16 The stream levels have been high
but are back down near normal. Brown
sculpin streamers, midges -creams and reds,
are catching trout.
12/01/16 More good reports from the past week.
Remember, it is all catch and release now.
12/22/16 The stream levels are just a little
above normal. It will rain heavily through
Saturday. Streamers, like the Black mautka
sculpin and Midges, Creams and Reds, will
01/05/17 Discharges have been high lately
but are back down to normal. Fish midges with
the larva and pupa in tandem. See our
01/12/17 The stream levels are down to a
normal level and conditions are good. Watch
the levels. There is more rain coming the first
of next week but for now, it is in good shape.
01/19/17 The stream levels have been very
high but down and in decent condition. Be
careful wading. Black Matuka Sculpin streamers
are a good choice, otherwise, midges.
01/26/17 Discharges and stream levels are
down to normal allowing decent wading
conditions. The weather clear and warmer.
02/09/17 Stream levels are down to a little
above normal but may be difficult to wade in
places. Fish streamers like the Black Matuka
sculpin, otherwise, Cream or red midges. .
02/16/17 The discharges and flows are very
high. You will just have to watch them and fish
when they drop back down to near normal flows.