Current Conditions: 250 CFS and a little off color though it should clear up quickly. Season ends today, and will reopen the last Saturday in April 2020
Fishing Report-Good: It's October Caddis time right now so dead drifting an October Caddis pupa pattern can get some hard strikes. Midges are an important food source but combining a Midge pattern with a Stonefly pattern is a good way to go. Try a attractor style anchor fly (big and ugly with lots of action) with a small red Copper John. You may have some company when you get down there.
Recommended General All Around Patterns
Bead Head Pheasant Tail #12, #14 & #16, San Juan Worm/passionate pink, Bead Head Golden Stone Nymph #8,, #10, & #12, Copper John/red or copper #14, #16, Bead Head Prince Nymph (various sizes), Wooly Bugger/rusty, black, Glow Bug/red, Mercer's Z Wing Caddis #13 & #16, Vinci's "Depth Charge Bird's Nest"/olive, black, or natural, tungsten bead Zebra Midge/black, brown, red, Fox's Poopah #14 & #16. Scud/pink #14. Black Rubber Legs #8, Bead Head Prince (various sizes).
Stimulator #8-#12, Adams Parachute #14 & #16, PMD Parachute #16, Elk Hair Caddis #14 & #16, Parachute PMD #14 & #16, Quigley Cripple #16.
About the McCloud River
The McCloud River is arguably the holy water of California Fly Fishing. If anything it is the mother of Rainbow Trout fishing around the world, as it was the eggs from its fish that were transported to many places in the world that had been previously barren of trout. Today the ancestors of McCloud Rainbow Trout can be found from Europe to Australia, New Zealand to Argentina and Chili and of course, throughout the United States.
The McCloud’s watershed is located in the Southern Cascades about 50 miles south of the
California/Oregon border. The McCloud flows west and roughly parallel, to Hwy 89. Before the highway reaches the town of McCloud the river turns south and flows about 30 mi to where it meets the Sacramento and Pit Rivers at Lake Shasta.
For fly fishermen, the river can be split into two sections. The upper section above McCloud Lake, can be accessed from several roads that peel off from Hwy 89 that roughly parallel’s the river for several miles. There are several sections of great pocket water and a good population of wild Rainbows that are supplemented by hatchery fish during the summer.
The Holy Water section of the river begins at its outflow from Lake McCloud and continues to Lake
Because this section is a tailwater, flows stay relatively consistent most of the summer. 170 to 200cfs flows make the river wadeable from spring to summer. The fact that the McCloud flows through a deep canyon means that the water stays cool even during the hottest days. The most popular section is from Ash Camp to Ah-Di-Na Campground and from the campground to the McCloud River Preserve which is owned by the Nature Conservancy.
The McCloud has strong hatches of Caddis, Mayfly, Stonefly and Midges. Probably the most looked forward to, is the October Caddis hatch each fall. The first major hatches in the spring (river opens the last Saturday in April) are March Browns and Golden Stoneflies Flies that hatch from May through June. There are some giant Salmon Flies too.
As temperatures warm up in May the Pale Morning Dun’s and Caddis begin to hatch. Caddis can be quite active at dusk. It should also be mentioned that early in the spring, the Blue Wing Olives are still hatching and can be quite prolific on cloudy days. They can continue hatching into July.
If you are a California fly fisherman the McCloud is one of those rivers that needs to be on your bucket list. It’s contribution to the history of our sport makes it not only a special place but an opportunity for a very quality fishing experience.