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The McCloud River

Northern California's Most Scenic Trout Stream
  • Scenic view of the McCloud River
    Springs and Glaciers The McCloud's milky-green water comes from glacial flour on Mt. Shasta. Runoff from Mt. Shasta seeps into the ground and then pops up in various springs at the head of the McCloud River.
  • McCloud Redband Trout
    The McCloud Redband The McCloud River is home to the McCloud Redband, one of California's 10 types of heritage trout. These fish have a distinctive brick-red band on their lateral line. The fish on the Lower McCloud are a mix of coastal rainbows and McCloud Redbands.
  • McCloud River Stonefly
    Great hatches The McCloud has an abundance of hatches throughout the season. Some favorite hatches include the giant stoneflies and green drakes in May, golden stones in June, little yellow sallies and caddisflies mid-summer, and then the October Caddis in the fall.
  • Wading the McCloud River
    Wading the McCloud The McCloud River has fairly challenging wading. It is also necessary to do a lot of hiking to access multiple areas. Felt boots and a wading staff are recommended.
  • High-stick nymphing the McCloud
    Pocket Water & Plunge Pools The McCloud River has a variety of productive water types. Most fish are taken out of the smaller pockets and the big plunge pools like the one pictured here. We use nymphs and a lot of lead to get down deep in these pools.
  • Summer wet wading
    Summertime Wet Wading The McCloud is a great river to wet-wade during the dog days of summer. Grasshopper patterns and dry-dropper techniques can be very productive in the pocket water.
Quick Links:
Flies

The McCloud River is perhaps the most scenic of all the rivers in Northern California. Fishing on the McCloud commences as the runoff recedes, usually between opening day and the end of May. Once the spring flows recede the river flows at a clear and cold 200 cfs all season. Hatches of mayflies and stoneflies are excellent in the spring. Nymphing is always productive. Dry fly action in the summer months is more limited to the late afternoon and evening hours. Mayflies and giant October Caddis provide excellent dry fly action again in the fall. The average fish on the McCloud River is about 10 inches. Many small fish are caught during the summer months, but the average size becomes quite good in the Fall. Migratory browns supplement the population of resident rainbows in October and November. Some of these browns are over two feet in length!

McCloud River Guide Availability
May 31: Mike Wright
Jun 12: Mike Wright
Jun 13: Mike Wright
Jun 14: Mike Wright
Jun 15: Mike Wright
Jun 16: Mike Wright
For more McCloud River dates, please visit our Online Booking page!
Gear Recommendations for the McCloud River
Rods, Reels & Lines: Five and six-weight nine-foot rods are ideal on the McCloud River. We primarily use floating lines. Nymph or Double Taper Lines are best for versatility. We occasionally use fast-sinking sink-tip or full-sink lines to fish streamers.
Leaders, Tippet & Indicators: We usually use 3X-5X tippet on the McCloud River. Come prepared with 7.5' 3X or 4X leaders. We use a variety of indicators on the McCloud. Corkies and yarn work well. For indicatorless nymphing we like the nymph taper fly lines with the bright red tip. Attaching a permanent butt section of 25# red amnesia also works well. We use split shot in sizes BB and larger on the McCloud.
Waders & Boots: We use chest-high breathable waders on the McCloud River. Spiked wading boots are not necessary. Wading staffs are recommended and are provided. Make sure to bring your own wading belt. All fishing on the McCloud River is done while wading. In the middle of the summer we frequently wet-wade.
Hatches & Seasons
The McCloud River is open from the last Saturday in April through November 15th. Some of the most popular hatches include the golden and giant stoneflies, caddis and little yellow stones on summer evenings, and the October Caddis hatch in the fall.

McCloud River Hatch Chart
Flies:
Nymphs:
• BH Prince, 12-16
• Mercer's Micro Mayfly, all colors, size 16-18
• Fox's Poopah, tan, 14
• BH Bird's Nest, natural, 12-14
• Flashback PT, 16-18
Dries:
• Parachute Adams, 12-18
• Green Drake Paradrake, 10 (May)
• Burk's Extended Body Yellow Stone, 14 (mid-summer)
• Grand Hopper, tan, 10 (mid-summer)
• Rogue Foam Salmonfly, 6 (May & June)
• Rogue Foam Golden Stone, 8 (May & June)
• Madam X, 10 (October/November)
• Morrish's October Caddis Adult, 8, (October/November)
Streamers:
• Woolhead sculpin, dark, 4
• Egg Sucking String Leech, 2
• Tungsten Minnow, Tan, 4
Sample Itinerary
Meeting Time & Place: We typically meet our clients at their lodge or hotel at 8:30am. At certain times of year we may arrange to meet earlier, especially during the summer when the trico spinners are falling in the morning hours. On some trips we may arrange to meet at Hat Creek Park, where Highway 299 crosses Hat Creek.
Vehicle Considerations: We typically have our clients ride with us in our vehicles. However, be prepared to follow us in your own vehicle.
Wading difficulty: All trips on the McCloud are wading trips. The wading is challenging and wading staffs are highly recommended. Felt soled boots are best. We do a lot of hiking on the McCloud.
Multiple Fisheries in one Day: When we fish the McCloud, we usually spend the whole day on the McCloud. Sometimes we may spend part of the day on the upper McCloud or the Upper Sac.
Length of the Day: Most full days conclude around 5:30pm. Half days end around 12:30pm. On many full days we take a break around 2pm and reconvene around 7pm to fish the evening hatch.
Lodging & Travel Info
Many of our clients prefer to stay in the towns of McCloud, Mt Shasta City, or Dunsmuir. The Fall River Valley is about 45 minutes away. Redding is about 1.5 hours from the McCloud River.
Public Lands
Some of our McCloud River fly fishing trips are conducted on public lands administered by the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. Confluence Outfitters operates under permit from the Shasta/Trinity National Forest on a non-discriminatory basis.
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