The Mccloud River

Days 3-5

After a day of working on Monday, the car gets packed up and pops and I head on out to our next location, the lower Mccoud river. The drive is stunning; thickly forested mountains and  Mt. Shasta surging majestically upwards into a blue bird sky. The road around Mccloud Lake impresses, the water a bright emerald green. While a bit of a rough ride (I hear this road is notorious for doling out flats), the way down the canyon to AH-DI-NA campground is scenic and full of wildlife. In fact, as we’re driving into this deep ravine, Dad mentions this is Bigfoot country. After a sideways glance, I realize he’s serious. Oh man.

Lake Mccloud

Lake Mccloud

Its early evening when we arrive at our query. My Dad, ever the friendly guy, goes up and chats to our   neighbors, the only other people staying at the campground. Yet another funny coincidence; he had just talked to the guy earlier in the morning at the Ted Fay Fly Shop in Dunsmuir. It turns out Mike has been fishing this river for years, and is taking his son Ben on his first fly fishing trip. Gotta love that, taking a kid fishing! I also spot some wet suits in the back ground by their tent, it turns out these guys surf too. Bonus points! We wish them good evening and tight lines, then head out to the river.

Tight lines!

Tight lines!

The wading is tough and slippery (dad and I will both end up going for a “swim”), but there is a ton of pocket water and plenty of fish to make it worth it. While waiting for the dries to start popping, we high stick some nymphs. BAM!! I hook the first fish of the evening in some fast water. I look at the bend in my favorite rod, a Red Truck Diesel #5, and I know this fish has some heft to it. I wrangle in a gorgeous 18″ wild rainbow. I am entranced; this river is not only gorgeous but also full of strong, spirited fish.

Fish on!

Fish on! This beauty was camera shy and bolted  as soon I removed the #10 PT flashback from his snout.

The late evenings turn out to be the most product time to fish; that PMD emerger I learned to tie at the Upper Sac turns out to be quite the hot fly. Fish are slurping this fly like a little kid pops skittles! The only downside to this river is that at times it can be difficult to cast. I caught a few trees, in and out of the stream.

Whoops. Glad Dad got a picture of this instead of all the fish I was catching.

Whoops. Thanks for getting a picture of this Dad.

Until next time...

Until next time…

As we pack up the last day, I’m sad to be leaving, but I know I’ll be back. I’m glad we stopped at a few rivers in Northern California before we headed up to Oregon. I can’t wait to head back and fish these rivers for years to come.

We made it!

We made it!

We take pit stop in Klamath Falls for a couple of days, I take care of work (sigh) and Dad gets to hang out with an old college buddy and play some golf at the Running Y. Coming up next? Perhaps the Williamson River for the hex hatch, or up to the Cascade Lakes Basin to use the float tubes that have been blocking the rear view in my car. Or the upper Deschutes, the Crooked River, the Metolius River…. They’re all on the list, and I can’t wait to fish them all.

Sunset over Klamath Lake

Sunset over Klamath Lake

Going Loopy

Whew! Steelhead season has come to a close on the San Lorenzo River. I sit here shaking my head and wonder how it all went by so quickly. Only 266 days until the start of next season. Trips to rivers further north are still an option, but the lack of rain has me turning my eye toward trout, mountain streams, and dry flies.

Actually, I find myself itching to cast something lighter than the streamers, attractor patterns, and eggs I’ve been throwing for the past few months. Being a small river with no room to back cast, roll casting has been the seasonal special on the San Lorenzo. It has been too long since I last threw a nice loop. And really, it has been TOO long. I recently demoed a rod at a show; holy moly, was it ugly. It seems that roll casting and hucking weighty flies all season has left me with a few bad habits. I’m pretty sure I saw my dad visibly cringe while he wondered what happen to the lovely loops he taught me to cast. Tangling the line at a casting pond in front of a bunch of people……NICE. My face was probably as red as my shirt! I’d like to say that it was equipment failure, but it was a Red Truck rod; basically perfection in the form of a fly rod. Yup, this one was 100% operator error.

While my pride took a bit of a hit from this incident, it reminded me to be mindful of my form. Its one thing to know better, and it’s another to actually do better. I’ve started frequenting the local park with my dog and rod in tow. He enjoys chasing the feather at the end of my line while I enjoy practicing my casting. Since I don’t have a river close by I can fish after work in the evenings (yet…more on this soon), this is as close as I can get to a post-work fish. It is a great way to unwind and I find it rather cathartic. As long as you don’t mind a few sidelong glances from other park goers (if I had a dollar for every time people jestingly asked what I was fishing for…), this is an excellent way to put some polish on your casting. You can even bring hula hoops for some target practice.