Pit River

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Updated - 9/12/22

Current River Conditions:  Pit #3/340 CFS, Pit #5/450 CFS 


Fishing-Good:  Flows remain steady at Pit #3 but were ramped way up to about 1400 CFS over the weekend on Pit#5.  They are back down to normal now but fishing may be off a few days because of it.  Prior to the ramp up the Fly Shop in Redding reported that all sections of the Pit were fishing very well.   Water temperatures have been in the mid 60s so keep an eye on them because when they creep up close to the 70s the fish get stressed and can be unable to recover from being caught.  In higher temperature waters the fish will congregate around springs and other sources of cooler water.  Caddis hatches are intense in the evening otherwise smaller Stone fly patterns and PTs from #12 to #18 will work.  Try a Fox's Poopah when the Caddis start popping off the water.


Recommended All Around Patterns

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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), Vinci's "Depth Charge Bird's Nest"/ black, or natural, Wooly Bugger/rusty, black, Glow Bug/red, Brown or Black Rubber Legs #6 or #8, tungston bead Zebra Midge/black, brown, red, Fox's Poopah #14 & #16. Scud/pink #14. Stimulator #8-#12, Adams Parachute #14 & #16, Elk Hair Caddis #14 & #16


See Hatch Chart Below

Pit River
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About the Pit River


The Pit River begins near the town of Alturas, CA which is about 90 mi east of Burney.  Once it reaches the town of Fall River Mills its gradient increases as it descends the west slope towards its terminus at Lake Shasta. 


Along the way it (with Hat Creek) empties into Lake Britton near Burney.  Below Lake Britton are several diversions and powerhouses operated by PG&E. The damed sections are known as Pit #3 Dam (at Lake Briton), Pit #4, Pit #5, Pit #6 and Pit #7.  Pit’s #3 through #5 are the popular fishing sections. 


The consistent flow of cool water is the perfect environment for aquatic life and of course the fish.  Since that time, the population of warm water fish has diminished and the Rainbow population exploded. 


Pit #3 section has become legendary, not only for the large fish that grow there but also for the difficulty of negotiating the boulders and swift water that runs through its deep canyon.  For many young fly fishers a fishing excursion to Pit #3 has become a right of passage. 


The fishing is also good below Pit #4 and Pit #5, where the river’s gradient levels off considerably into a broader flood plane.  Even so, the boulders in the flood plane are so large and numerous that to get to the pockets required experience and advanced wading skills.  Those who possessed such skills, are rewarded with days of great fishing for 12 to 15 inch fish that required the ultimate in skill to successfully be brought to the net in its swift water.   


To reach Pit #3 from Burney, travel east on Hwy 299 for about 5 miles to its junction with Hwy 89, travel north Hwy 89 for about another 5 miles to Clark Creek Rd.  Follow it until it crosses the Pit #3 dam and then turn southeast on Pit Canyon Rd which runs parallel to the river.  The road begins relatively high above the river but after awhile it runs right along side of it for about three miles before it reaches the Pit #3 powerhouse. 


Downstream of the Pit #3 powerhouse is the Pit #4 section.  Part of the way, the road runs close to the river but  eventually the road increases in elevation making it difficult to access the river. Once the road crosses the Pit #5 dam, you will come to the community of Big Bend.  Of all the sections on the Pit, the Big Bend section has the easiest wading.  There is intermittent access both upstream and downstream from Big Bend, but be aware that much of the riverside property is private. 


The Pit isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but for the adventurous anglers it can be very rewarding.  It should be on the bucket list of every young angler but if you wait too long in life to pay it a visit it will be too late.