The river below McCloud reservoir is one of California's finest trout streams

McCloud River - CA (Siskiyou County)

by Andrew Harris

The McCloud River is perhaps the most scenic of all the rivers in Northern California. The lush riparian vegetation and milky-green water give the river a unique character.

The McCloud River is perhaps the most scenic of all the rivers in Northern California. The lush riparian vegetation and milky-green water give the river a unique character. The color of the water comes from the glacial flour, or dust, high on Mt. Shasta. The glacial waters seep into the ground and emerge in a series of springs near the town of McCloud. These springs form the Upper McCloud, which flows into McCloud Reservoir. The river below the reservoir is one of California's finest trout streams.

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!

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.


• 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

• Parachute Adams, 12-18
• Green Drake Paradrake, 10 (May)
• Burk's Extended Body Yellow Stone, 14

• 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)

• 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.

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