Brought to you by Visit Redding
There are plenty of spots to catch big fish throughout Northern California. From the streams of the North Coast to the fast-moving rivers of the Sierra Nevada, there’s no shortage of opportunities to land the catch of a lifetime in the northernmost sections of California.
But when it comes to dense fisheries all located in a small area, there’s no better place to catch fish in California than Redding.
If you’re not familiar with Redding, it sits on the midpoint between Sacramento and the Oregon border along Interstate 5 and is known to have NorCal’s premier tributary, the Sacramento River, flowing right through it. With flights from San Francisco and Los Angeles, it’s easy (and affordable) to get to and there are plenty of great accommodations throughout the beautiful town.
Here are nine great fishing spots around Redding that are guaranteed to help you grab that catch of a lifetime:
There are many spots to fish the Lower Sacramento River all the way down the valley, but it seems like the hottest fishing area on the river lies right in the heart of Redding. Flowing under the Sundial Bridge, through the town of Redding and out to Red Bluff, you will find a ton of great Rainbow Trout on the Sacramento River.
It’s quite an experience. If you would like to learn more about fishing the Sacramento River, I would recommend picking the brains of local guides, like the Kennedy Brothers or Chris King. Or you could stop into the Fly Shop in Redding for some tips.
Here’s our fishing trip with Chris King from the Fly Shop on the Sacramento River in Redding:
The longest tributary to Shasta Lake, the Pit River begins in a series of small forks in Lassen and Modoc Counties. It remains rather slow and sluggish until it passes through Fall River Mills and only really becomes trout habitat in the canyon above the Pit 1 Powerhouse. Those less concerned with catching fish see the river as a giant electricity-producing machine. Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) owns and operates a series of powerhouses above and below Lake Britton, and anglers have come to use the numbers of these powerhouses to designate great Pit River places to fish.
If an angler said, “I’ll meet you at Rock Creek on Pit 3,” Pit River regulars understand that’s three miles below Lake Britton Dam where Rock Creek flows into the river. Pit 3 is the river from Lake Britton Dam downstream to the Pit 3 Powerhouse. Pit 4 is the river between Pit 4 Dam and the Pit 5 Dam. Pit 5 flows out below Pit 5 Dam, flows through Big Bend and on down to the Pit 5 Powerhouse. There are also plenty of trout in the river between the Pit 1 Powerhouse and Lake Britton, but this section of river fluctuates dramatically every day and can be dangerous.
From a fishing perspective, the McCloud River is best described as two different rivers. Above McCloud Reservoir the river is smaller, easier to wade and popular with families and folks who delight in the smell of fresh fish sizzling in pan. There are several popular campgrounds, three gorgeous waterfalls and an abundance of trout regularly stocked through the summer season and families doing all they can to connect with a few. The upper river is readily accessible from Hwy. 89 about six miles east of the sleepy little town of McCloud. There are stunning views of majestic Mount Shasta from this stretch of highway, and no one will blame you if you miss your turn because you’re gawking at the mountain.
Fish are stocked at Fowler’s Campground and Lower Falls. As far as finding the fish, well, if you can’t actually see them, look for deeper water. Because the upper river is fairly shallow and the water clear, fish do their best to avoid direct sunlight. Any manner of take shy of dynamite (bait, lures or flies) is allowed, and anglers are permitted to keep up to five trout. Though absolutely beautiful, this is hardly wilderness fishing. Restrooms are only a short stroll away from the river.
When fish are planted it can become something of a three-ringed-circus for a short while, kind of an angler’s version of chasing ambulances. But if you want to catch and keep a limit of rainbow trout, this is your time.
The Trinity River, sitting just west of Redding on Highway 299, is best known for one thing – an epic steelhead run.
Like salmon, steelhead possess the extraordinary ability to sense their native rivers from more than a thousand miles away in the open ocean. When it is time to spawn, they need no directions. Humans have tried and failed to understand this without success, and even the best GPS units cannot compare with a steelhead’s innate ability to find home. Every steelhead knows where home is.
When this run occurs between October and November, the fishing on the Trinity River becomes world-renown. See for yourself:
This Sacramento River tributary comes in from the west near the Win River Casino and parallels Clear Creek Road before swinging north into a long, remote canyon below Whiskeytown Lake. The fishing is remarkably good for large and small rainbow trout, even though most of it is too deep to wade. Nevertheless, if you’re willing to do a little climbing around (or even swimming during summer), there is enough pristine, trout-filled water to fish for days. The trick is getting in and back out again.
First, there is hiking upstream from Clear Creek Road, or downstream from the Placer Road Bridge. This section is about as remote as you can get, which is why its always best to bring along a friend. Above Placer is also remote, but there are numerous dirt roads and trails leading down to the river off of Muletown Road.
Heading upstream, Muletown Road merges with Paige Bar Road not far below Whiskeytown Dam and the bridge over Clear Creek here also provides access. The next bridge up is at Peltier Bridge Campground. From here up to the dam there are several more paths down to the river, but watch out for poison oak and the odd rattlesnake. Like in a lot of other places, the more work you are willing to put in fishing this gem, the better the fishing is likely to be. The angling regulations require catch and release fishing only, with barbless hooks. That said, there are plenty of trout in this stream over 20-inches long.
I only fish Hatchet in the summertime because of the need to sometimes get in the water and swim to move up or downstream. But if you are willing to do that you can expect a series of small, deepish pools, each containing 5-10 rainbow trout. Most of the fish are smaller, but there are also good numbers of fish in the 12-14 inch category. Hardly anyone fishes for these fish, and they are remarkably eager to take bait, spinning lures and flies.
Park where the stream goes under Hwy. 299 about ten miles west of Burney, and the best fishing is upstream. You will get your exercise fishing this creek, but if you are able to see this as part of the fun, you’re very likely to catch a ton of fish. There are no special angling regulations for this creek, so bait is allowed and you may harvest up to five trout.
The best section is above Hwy. 299. The popular swimming/cliff diving hole at Lion Slide Falls (also called Hatchet Creek Falls off of Big Bend Road) is not as good for fishing.
I learned of this remote Tehama County location from a biologist friend of mine who snorkeled it looking for fish. He was amazed at the huge numbers of rainbow trout he found up above, and smallmouth bass down below. Getting here is a little tricky, but if you Google directions to Fisher Campground east of Red Bluff you should be able to find it. This one isn’t your best choice for the hot months of summer because there isn’t a lot of shade.
Head upstream to the series of forks in the river to find tons of brown trout. Your best bet is in fishing all the deeper holes. The stream is barbless hooks, artificial lures or flies only, but you can keep two hatchery trout.
Keswick is the nine miles of water between Keswick Dam just above Redding, and Shasta Dam up above. The good fishing is in the upper section, the 2-3 miles below Shasta Dam. To get there you have to drive over Shasta Dam and park next to the campground. There is almost zero shore access to this fishery, but crafty anglers in float tubes have discovered how fish-filled this water is, and the fish are big.
The idea is you fish your way downstream in a float tube. When you’re ready to get out you locate one of the numerous paths on the west side of the reservoir leading up to the Sacramento River Rail Trail and hike back to your car.
The most frequently asked question is, ‘Why do all that work? Why not get a boat and motor upstream from the two boat launch ramps down below? First of all, the boat launches are a long way from the food fishing water. Secondly, the level of the water in the reservoir is in a constant state of change and may go up or down as much as three feet in a day. Thirdly, there are numerous house-sized boulders just beneath the surface of the water capable of sinking a motorboat going upstream. Lastly, I’ve never seen an angler in a boat catch a fish on Keswick. The float tube sits you closer to the water where you are less likely to spook the fish.
There are no special angling regulations for Keswick so you can fish with either bait, lures or flies. There’s a nice path down to the water next to the campground. For your first venture try fishing your way downstream until you see the building on the hill along the west side. This is Coram Ranch (private), but there is a nice path just below it leading up to the trail.
Squaw Valley Creek
This northern Shasta County beauty is located due west of Lake McCloud. Drive to the town of McCloud on Hwy. 89. In McCloud turn south on Squaw Valley Road and go 6.1 miles. Just past Friday’s Retreat turn right on Squaw Valley Creek Road. Go another 3.1 miles until you cross a bridge. The parking lot is just past the bridge.
This is a popular venue for hikers and mountain bikers as well, but hardly anyone fishes the creek. A good path parallels the stream for a good five miles. A tributary to the McCloud River, there are few places in Shasta county as cool, shady and gorgeous as this little stream. I’ve never caught any really big trout here, but what they lack in size they make up for in good numbers. You may fish with bait, lures or flies, but anglers are only allowed to harvest up to two trout. This is also a great place to bring a picnic lunch and soak up all the natural beauty you can.
Northern California’s Outdoor Digital Newsmagazine