California small streams

Discussion in 'Trip Reports with Pics' started by Richard Olmstead, Jun 13, 2014.

  1. Richard Olmstead

    Richard Olmstead BigDog

    Jun 28, 2005
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    Seattle, WA
    My wife had never visited Yosemite before, someplace that was an annual Mecca for me before we were married, so we packed up and did a driving trip with that as our destination. We took our time, spending a few days going down the east side of the Cascade/Sierra crest, and returning up the North Coast Ranges.

    What a contrast! Campgrounds packed cheek to jowl (we made reservations months ago) and tumultuous crowds everywhere you turn in Yosemite, and beautiful campgrounds completely to ourselves everywhere else.

    Fishing wasn't the main reason for the trip, or even second (I was collecting plants for the Burke Museum along the way), but I did take a 3-wt and a few flies, figuring we'd mostly be around small streams, including the south fork of the Merced where we camped in Wawona.

    The second night we camped in an out of the way campground in Modoc County in far NE California. A little stream called Rush Creek, which you could step across in most places, flowed through camp and I didn't think it could possibly hold fish, but when my dog waded into one pool to get a drink and I saw shadows scurrying away, I decided to see what they were. Dapping an elk hair caddis yielded one beautiful little 7" rainbow. Here's the little pool he lived in.
    Rush Creek @ Upper Rush Cr.jpg

    We passed the famous Hat Creek midday the next day and stopped for lunch at a fishing access site complete with a substantial handicapped access fishing structure (just out of this picture).
    Hat Creek 2.jpg

    Hat Creek is a beautiful stream and the banks were crawling with these guys. I caught a couple and threw them in the water; both were gobbled up before they had drifted 40-50 feet. Despite this, no one there was fishing big dry stonefly patterns. We didn't have time to stop and fish. Sigh...
    Salmonfly 3.jpg

    Despite taking dozens of pics in Yosemite, unfortunately I didn't take any the evening I fished the South Fork Merced near the Wawona campground. It is a beautiful small stream that should be raging with runoff in late May, but was very wadable and even warm this year. The fishing was a bit disappointing, with just a few shakers to show for a couple hours of fishing, but then that may just be a consequence of being within walking distance of a campground/lodge complex that houses hundreds of people every night from early May through October.

    After leaving Yosemite, we drove up Hwy 49 through all the old gold mining towns in the Sierra foothills. We didn't stop to fish, but I did snap this photo of the New Melones reservoir on the Stanislaus river. It gives some idea about the effect of the drought in CA right now.
    New Melones reservoir 2.jpg

    Later, when we reached Redding, the Sacramento looked full to the banks, carrying irrigation water to the Central Valley, but Shasta Lake looked like it was down about 40-50 feet (that's a lot of missing water for June 1)! We stopped along the upper Sac above the lake and it looked like mid-summer flow. A couple days earlier, we drove by a little reservoir in the inner north coast ranges called Indian Valley reservoir. The next day we ran into a guy who was on the water board for the local county and he told us that the reservoir had 28,000 acre-feet of water in it, out of a capacity of 390,000 acre-feet (that's 7%...). They are really hoping that predictions of an impending El Nino are correct.

    A couple days later we camped along the "wild and scenic" South Fork Trinity river. It was scenic and reasonably wild in the narrow canyon it flows through. The road drops down to the river and follows it for a little ways near the community of Forest Glen, where we had a riverside campground to ourselves. A beautiful stream, but I didn't raise a fish.
    S Fork Trinituy at Forest Glen.jpg

    Our last stop was to visit a friend of my wife who has a little place right on the Nestucca River near Beaver, OR. I didn't have an Oregon license, so didn't fish it, but she said they get Chinook (protected), steelhead (a pretty good winter run), and coastal cutts (always some around). I'll know enough to get an Oregon license next time we visit.
    Nestucca river.jpg

    That's all folks,
  2. Brookie_Hunter

    Brookie_Hunter aka Dave Hoover

    Jul 26, 2007
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    Phinney Ridge, Seattle, WA
    Nice looking trip. I hear you about the tumultuous crowds, we had the same feeling in many places in Yellowstone NP last Summer. Love the look of that first little creek...that kind of water is right up my alley.
  3. Robert Engleheart

    Robert Engleheart Robert

    Mar 28, 2008
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    Lemoore, CA
    Stay away from Yosemite June-Labor Day. Fishing is better before/after as well. Merced has some great March Brown action and actually fishes best in winter months below the park. Modoc County has some great small streams, feeders and the South Fork of the Pit, streams entering east side of Goose Lake have some redbands. Some great reservoir fishing there as well. PM me next time you go through NE CA.
  4. Gary Knowels

    Gary Knowels Active Member

    Dec 20, 2010
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    Seattle, WA
    I fished The Trinity a few miles above The Trinity Reservoir last year in early July. I landed several rainbows in the 8-13" range. We camped there for a couple days and had a great time. That area is absolutely gorgeous!

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