VALLEY TAIL WATERS
San Diego Saltwater
Updated - 9/12/20
Current River Conditions: water is normal and clear. Light smoke.
Fishing Conditions- Good: Creek remains open as it is not located on forest service property. The Fly Shop reports that things have slowed down a little over the last couple of weeks which is a normal annual occurance. The Trico spinner fall still occurs in the morning with PMDs closer to noon. Trout have seen lots of immitations this season so you better have an excellant presentation or you will be out of luck. There is Great Caddis hatch just before dark. Some BWOs should be happening soon. Also, the freestone section down by the barrier has a good Caddis hatch so indicator nymphing a Bird's Nest or a Fox's Poopah can bring success.
Great patterns for fishing down deep are #18 Red Copper Johns, #18 bead head flashback Pheasant Tails, #18 Micro Mayflies, #4 Black Rubber Legs, #14 Olive Birdsnests, #12 Poxy Stones. For dries: #20 Trico Spinners, #16 Rusty Spinners, Quigly Hackle Stacker (or similar), Tent Wing Caddis, Little Yellow Sally (EH Caddis style). Click here if you need some:
Recommended General All Around Patterns
Bead Head Pheasant Tail #12, #14 & #16 & #18, Hot Bead San Juan Worm, #8, #10 & #12 Kiene's Golden Brown Stone Nymph , Copper John/red or copper #14, #16, #18, Bead Head
Prince Nymph (various sizes), Wooly Bugger/rusty, black, Black Rubber Legs #2
tungsten bead Zebra Midge/black, brown, red, Fox's Poopah #14 & #16. Scud/pink #14, Bird's Nest #14 & #16, Micro Mayfly, Little Sloan Stone #14, #16, Vinci's "Depth Charge Bird's Nest"/olive, black, or natural
Stimulator #2-#12, Adams Parachute #14 & #16 & #18, Elk Hair Caddis #14 & #16, .Trico Parachute #20, Parachute PMD #16, Quigley Cripple/gray #14 & #16, and #18, Elk Hair Caddis #14 & #16, Cutter's EC Caddis #16, Rusty Spinner #16 & #18, Fat Albert #10
About Hat Creek
Hat Creek is located about an hour and a half northeast of Redding on California Highway 299 near Burney, a blue-collar lumber town reminiscent of what all trout towns used to look like before urbanites with money arrived to build ski resorts and turn Main Street stores into expensive boutiques and T-shirt shops for tourists. Burney remains much the same as it was in the 1960s, home to individuals who in most cases grew up there. Burney sits on a pretty plateau surrounded by forests of lush conifers; an extinct volcanic cinder cone appropriately named Burney Mountain overlooks the town.
Hat Creek originates on the slopes of Mount Lassen, the southernmost active volcano in the United States, and runs for about 40 miles to its confluence with Lake Britton. Because it courses through a porous lava rock substrate, Hat Creek is fed by many springs that keep it cool in summer and warm in winter, and it runs at a steady flow year-round.
The most famous section of the creek is known as the Powerhouse 2 riffle. The name refers to the PG&E powerhouse that sits at the upstream boundary of the special-regulations section and supplies a steady flow of water to the creek below. The section flows over lava substrate for about 100 yards and then flattens into a wide, slow-moving flow—a classic spring creek—for a couple of miles until it becomes a freestone flow again at the lower end. It is accessible by car, with a parking lot overlooking the riffle.
About a mile downstream from the powerhouse section is Carbon Flats, also served by a convenient parking area. Most of the lower stretch, which is north of where Highway 299 crosses the creek, is no longer accessible by vehicle, so to get to the riffle at the lower end of the creek, you turn north onto a dirt road just before you get to the county park next to the bridge. After a short distance, you will come to a parking area, from where you will have to hoof it for about 0.25 mile to get to the riffle.
The 100-yard-long freestone section of water just below the powerhouse holds some of the biggest fish-mostly Rainbows and some Browns- along with lots of aquatic food to sustain them. It gets lots of pressure from both the knowledgeable anglers who drift nymphs through its seams and pockets and those who take advantage of the relatively shallow water to cross to the other side. Hat Creek is famous for its multiple hatches, and the fish can rapidly switch from one insect to another or one life stage to another.