Pit River below Lake Britton dam has highest catch rate & most consistent fishing of Nor Cal rivers

Pit River - CA (Modoc County)

by Andrew Harris

The Pit River below Lake Britton dam has the highest catch rate and most consistent fishing of all the streams in northern California. Thirty miles of river provide endless opportunities to get away from other anglers. There are parts of the river right alongside a paved road as well as portions that require a strenuous hike to access. No matter where you choose to fish, you are likely to be rewarded with strong, wild rainbow trout pulling on the end of your line. The Pit fishes best from April through mid-July and again from mid-September through December. Mid-summer can be excellent, too, especially if the weather is not overly hot. Dry fly fishing is good mid-day early and late in the season and is excellent on summer evenings. Most of the time we fish with nymphs on the Pit. This river is an excellent place to learn various nymphing techniques, including indicator and indicatorless techniques.

The average fish on the Pit is 12" and the typical range is from 9" to 16". Pit River rainbows are very fat and strong, so a 14" fish can be difficult to land. Monsters up to 20" are caught occasionally, especially in the spring and fall.

The Pit is a difficult river to wade. Low visibility combined with uneven slippery rocks puts a lot of stress on ankles and knees. Felt-soled wading boots (spiked are even better) and a wading staff are a must.

Gear Recommendations for the Pit River
Rods, Reels & Lines:
Five-weight nine-foot rods are ideal on the Pit River. We primarily use floating lines. Nymph or Double Taper Lines are best for versatility. We occasionally use fast-sinking sink-tip lines to fish streamers.

Leaders, Tippet & Indicators:
We usually use 3X-5X tippet on the Pit River. Come prepared with 7.5' 3X or 4X leaders. We use a variety of indicators on the Pit. 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 Pit.

Waders & Boots:
We use chest-high breathable waders on the Pit River. Spiked wading boots are an advantage, but aren't an absolute necessity. Wading staffs are required and are provided. Make sure to bring your own wading belt. All fishing on the Pit River is done while wading. In the middle of the summer we frequently wet-wade.

Hatches & Seasons
The Pit River below Lake Britton Dam is open year-round. Some of the most popular hatches include the golden and giant stoneflies, caddis on summer evenings, and the Isonychia and October Caddis hatches in the fall.


• Bird's Nest, black, 12-14
• HBI, 14-18
• Amber Prince, 14-18
• Black Rubberlegs, 6
• Pettis' Pulsating Caddis, olive, 14-16
• Copper John, all colors, 12-18
• Mercer's Micro Mayfly, all colors, 14-18
• Isonychia, 10 (August-October)

• Parachute Adams, 12-18
• Cutter's E/C Caddis, olive, 16
• Elk Hair Caddis, olive 12-16
• Burk's Extended Body Yellow Stone, 14 (mid-summer)
• Stimulator, Brown, 10 (May & June)
• Rogue Foam Salmonfly, 6 (May & June)
• Rogue Foam Golden Stone, 8 (May & June)

• Crayfish patterns, 6-10
• Woolhead sculpin, black, 4

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