McCloud River near Shasta Lake, California
For hundreds of years the rainbow trout population in the McCloud River was the envy of every trout stream in California. However back in the 1800s brown trout were brought from the east coast and were stocked in the river. Nowadays you can still find rainbow trout here but brown trout must have found the water to their liking because they are now the most dominant species in the river. McCloud River starts out in a canyon called Dead Horus Canyon. About 30 miles downstream from the headwaters a Dam impounds the river into McCloud Lake. Like most dams the building of the dam is both a blessing and a curse. The blessing it provides are about 20 cold, clear miles of water to Shasta Lake, it traps much of the sediment that would make the lower river dirty during the spring melt, and the lake provides a good place for huge trout to live. The only time those trout leave the lake is to spawn in the upper river (hint-hint). That being said the downside of the dam is it has diverted a bunch of the flow to the Pit River resulting in low flows and the virtual extinction of the southernmost population of Dolly Varden. The first 30 miles of the river can be described as a classic freestone river. Alonga is the upstream most access. Fishing here is decent, pressure is heavy, and the river is more of a creek. At Cattle Camp there is a large pool that marks the start of the best fishing in the upper river. You can find really good rainbow trout fishing for fish about 10-15 inches long under/near the plunge pools of Middle and Lower Falls. Once the river enters the Hearst estate you can forget about fishing the river anymore until the reservoir (privet property). Usually the water spills from the dam at a rate of about 180cfps. The lower river is heavily shaded as it flows through/around huge boulders of basalt where it creates deep pools that trout love to hang out in. From the dam to about 5 miles downstream the river runs through Ah-Di-Na campground which provides easy access and good fishing. The 6 miles below the campground are Nature Conservancy water which means only 10 rods can fish this section a day. Because of the restrictions this stretch is the best of the river. Below that there are a few miles where fishing is not allowed before it flows into McCloud River Club and Bolli Bokka Club land. If you really want to fish this section you can rent cabins from Bolli Bokka Club. The best way to catch fish in this river is to toss out nymphs like Black Rubber Legs, Golden Stones, October Caddis, Prince, Woolly Buggers, Marabou Leaches, Woolhead Sculpins, and PTs. Dry flies don’t work as well her but you can find good hatches of golden stones and stoneflies in May. You can also find Little Yellow Stone from June through September. Caddis take over then. At various times of the year you can also find smaller hatches of PMDS, Green Drakes, and Blue-Winged Olives. The best way to fish the river to make three different drifts with your fly. One near/on the top to attract active fish, the middle of water column where you will find fish that still want to eat but not enough to swim all the way to the surface. The last drift your fly should be as close to the bottom as possible to try to get a few inactive fish to commit. As a parting note; the farther away from the parking lot you get the less people and the more and bigger fish you will find. Good luck fishing!
McCloud River Fishing near Shasta Lake, California
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Details for McCloud River
Species Caught Here:
Access: Public Property
Body of Water Type: Stream
Lat/Long: 40.770149 -122.303619
Bodies of Water near McCloud River
Description for McCloud River, Shasta County, California
McCloud River is a stream located just 7.1 miles from Shasta Lake, in Shasta County, in the state of California, United States, near Baird (historical), CA. Fishermen will find a variety of fish including brown trout and rainbow trout here. Whether you’re baitcasting, fly fishing or spinning your chances of getting a bite here are good. So grab your favorite fly fishing rod and reel, and head out to McCloud River. Alternate names for this stream include McLoud River and McLeod's Fork.
For Fishing License purchase, fishing rules, and fishing regulations please visit California Fish & Wildlife
Please remember to check with the local Fish and Wildlife department to ensure the stream is open to the public. Now get out there and fish! Check out our Fishing Times
chart to determine when the fish will be most active.
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