Smoke Free Brookie

Hat Creek - CA (Shasta County)

Gary Heffley with a beautiful trout at smoke-free Hat Creek.
Photo Credit: Lisa Heffley

by Gary Heffley

Like everyone else in the Redding area, I am tired of the smoke that continues to cast a pall over the area. Having driven out to Whiskeytown and witnessing firsthand the devastation around the lake, passing so many burnt out homes along the way, I wondered how other homes, by some miracle, had survived, I needed a break from it all. With reports that the Hat Fire just west of Fall River was at 100 percent containment, I took the quick afternoon drive to Hat Creek to see how the area was doing.

Driving out of the valley through Shingletown, I was surprised to see what was an all but forgotten site, BLUE SKY.  There were even some white puffy clouds. Hell, even the trees were green and birds were chirping. Hat Creek was running clear and clean as I pulled to one of my favorite fishing holes at the entrance to the Hat Creek Campground. The hole was holding numerous trout that were darting in and out of the current.  After a few casts and short strikes, a nice rainbow took the spinner, but the fight was short lived. After a few more short strikes and another lost bow I decided to give the Panther Martin a rest and tie on what is becoming a new personal favorite for the area, a bikini patterned Kastmaster. Having had a lot of success with this lure at the back end of Cassel Forebay this spring, the first cast produced a solid hook-up from a nice brook trout. After a quick picture and releasing the trout back to the creek I decided to drive north continuing to check out the area.

There were a few vehicles making thier way into the area, but few anglers were lining the normal fishing spots. A couple of anglers fishing at the bridge picnic grounds had found success with salmon eggs but there was not near the normal angler traffic for this time of year.  Even the Cassel Forebay (where I landed another nice brookie) and Baum Lake were void of many anglers.

Bottom line is that if anyone is looking for a respite from the smoke and haze I found willing trout from stocks that have been kept up on the creek, as well as blue skies. For those in the North Valley a quick reset and visit of the area may be just what the doctor ordered.

Gary Heffley has been a valued contributor to MyOutdoorBuddy for over 10 years serving as manager, sales representative and reporter for much of Northern California. He is an avid outdoorsman and loves to fish and write about his adventures. He has a long history in the Sporting Goods field and uses that extensive experience to impart his wisdom in his writing. 

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