Directions

From Redding

Drive about 55 miles north on I-5 from Redding to the exit for Highway 89. From the exit, the town of McCloud is about 10 miles east on HWY 89. Once you reach the town of McCloud, turn left at the main intersection onto Squaw Valley Road. Follow Squaw Valley Road for about 8 miles. You will arrive at a fork in the road (just above Lake McCloud), stay right. Two miles later you will see a right turn with a sign to Ah-Di-Na and the Nature Conservancy property. Going left at this sign will take you across the dam and down a dirt-road along the side of the canyon to Ash Camp.

 

McCloud River

After learning the October Caddis hatch was on, I packed my gear and headed for the McCloud River. Having studied the weather forecasts for the area, and knowing how special the McCloud River is, the planets were aligned for some great fall fly fishing.

A moon lights Northern California's McCloud River in Fall

I made my descent into the lower canyon, down the steep, dirt road into Ash Camp. It was late afternoon and the sun had already slipped down behind the tall trees at the top of the canyon. The sun had left but the air, rocks, and ground were still warm. The October Caddis swirled above the water - ocassionally diving down to touch the moving water. Even now having sprouted wings from dry land, they seem bound to this river. I was struck by their size and their feverous flight. And as evening turned to dusk, the air filled with these guys. This scene alone was worth the trip.

October caddis can be found throughout the McCloud River watershed in the early fall

I opened by fly box and dug out the largest stimulator pattern (pictured here) I could find - rust-orangle body - and tied it to the light leader. The hatch was in full swing and there was little doubt the trout knew it as well. The pattern enticed three rainbows to eat in about an hours time. Though not a pure copy, the use of a large, dark orange stimulator effectively shows the foot-print of the October Caddis in low-light. And based on the lateral wake they left on the rise, these fish were willing to move for food.

Wild Rainbow trout caught and released on the lower section of the Mccloud River

I slept over-night at Ash Camp, and woke early next morning to another clear, but much colder day. The October Caddis hatch was still evident - more in my mind then over the river. I broke out from the river and hiked down a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail that parallels the McCloud but at a higher distance. Once on the PCT, you'll need to scout fishing spots carefully. Access to the river is severely limited once you set along the PCT. Some paths have been wore into the steep hill-side, these might be a safer choice with the possibility of a big pool waiting at the end.

Fly fisherman works pool near Ash Camp on the McCloud River.