Chip O'Brien

Chip O'Brien is a regular contributor to California Fly Fisher and Northwest Fly Fishing magazines, and author of River Journal, Sacramento River and California's Best Fly Fishing: Premier Streams and Rivers from Northern California to the Eastern Sierra. He lived in Redding, California, for eighteen years, where he was a guide, teacher, and regional manager for CalTrout.
Outdoors

Lesser-Known Great Places to Fish in Northern California

Northern California is well known as a fishing Mecca, and the Sacramento River is sometimes referred to as the best…

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Outdoors

Finding NorCal’s Best Secret Fishing Spots

In a crowded pub I had one of those “TV commercial” moments. My buddy and I were talking fishing when…

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Outdoors

Dealing with Bear Encounters in the Northern California Wilderness

A bear with a tasty treat along Shasta Lake When bears turn up on city streets or caught foraging in…

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Outdoors

A Fishing Experience on The Fly Shop’s Private Waters of Northern California

It wouldn’t be the first time I discovered I had a bad attitude about something without fully considering the facts.…

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Outdoors

Hexagenia Heaven: A Unique Fly Fishing Experience on Northern California’s Fall River

From the prow of our anchored pram I gazed across the Fall River Valley in the setting sun, and the…

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Lassen

Resurrecting Hat Creek – A Wild Trout Legacy in Northern California

That magical, terrifying, intense time between the late 1960s and early 1970s saw change sweeping across America in steady waves.…

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History

This Man is the Namesake of Lassen Volcanic National Park. His Murder Remains a Mystery.

You’ve surely seen the name Lassen plastered throughout Northern California, but behind the name sits a wild west murder mystery.…

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History

The Story of the Donner Party: Deadly Mistakes Over the Snowy Sierra

Photo of James F. and Margaret Reed, who were members of the Donner Party I could have died so many…

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History

The Adventures of Mark Twain in California – Part 4: The Stand Up Comedian

While it might be a stretch to describe Mark Twain’s ascent to literary rock-stardom as luck, he truly did not expect…

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History

The Adventures of Mark Twain in California – Part 3: Jackass Hill and Jumping Frogs

Who knew that Mark Twain, beloved American author and humorist, creator of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer, spent seven wild…

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History

Before the Fall: Stories of Conflict and Discovery in Northern California History

Like stepping off a bar stool after swilling shots of whiskey, nudging my canoe into Fall River catches me off-guard.…

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History

The Chronicles of Mark Twain in California – Part 1: The Stories Behind the Pen Name

People dream of coming to California to become the next Meryl Streep or Tom Hanks, but hardly the “father of…

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Outdoors

Greased Bowling Balls and the Circle of Life on the Klamath River

Photo: Bureau of Land Management Oregon and Washington “WHOA,” my teenage son screamed. “Watch out! Those rocks are slippery. I…

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History

The Legend of Old Shavehead – The Lassen Native American Known for Murdering Samuel Burney

As written in the book California’s Best Fly Fishing Old Shavehead. Photo: California State University, Chico While geologists estimate that…

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Outdoors

To Dam or Un-Dam California? Now That’s a Complicated Question.

While some dams are old and nearly useless, major dams like Shasta provide flood control and water storage for millions…

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Destinations

The Best Places to Go Bird Watching in Siskiyou County

Brought to you by Discover Siskiyou Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge. Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife In a world with…

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Destinations

Discover a Captivating Underground World at Lake Shasta Caverns

It was a foregone conclusion that I would love the Shasta Caverns tour. First, you find it off the O’Brien…

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Destinations

Exploring Redding’s Great Outdoors on the Sacramento River Trail

Brought to you by Visit Redding Photo: Visit Redding We’ve all felt like we were going in circles at some…

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Destinations

The History of the McCloud River and its World-Famous Fish

Photo: California Trout It’s the strangest feeling. I can be standing for hours in a rushing trout stream totally absorbed…

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Destinations

Road Trippin’ Northern California’s Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway

Brought to you by Discover Siskiyou Mount Shasta overlooks much of the North State and provides a certain familiar presence.…

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Destinations

7 Exhilarating Summit Hikes Around Redding, California

Brought to you by Visit Redding Photo of Chip O’Brien on the Summit of Mt. Shasta “Doubly happy,” said John…

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History

Did the Real-Life Tarzan Dive Off Burney Falls?

BThe story was well known to me, but we at Active NorCal always check our sources. If you Google “Tarzan,…

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North Coast

Coming Home – Chronicles of a Trinity River Steelhead

She was late getting back to the Trinity this year, at least later than a lot of the others. They…

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History

The Lockhart Ferry Massacre: Northern California’s Bloody War of the 1850’s

Peering into the lives of the first non-Native people in Northern California, dreams, imaginings and real history clash in a…

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Destinations

A Harrowing Journey into the Haunted Caribou Wilderness

“AAAAAAUUUUAAAACK… AAAAAAUUUUAAAACK…” My eyes opened the size of softballs and the sleeping bag I’d been dozing in nearly lifted off…

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Stories

Almost Climbing Mount Shasta: A Story of Misery and Life Lessons at 14,000 Feet

At four thirty in the morning no one saw the light from my tiny headlamp inching uphill in pitch darkness…

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Outdoors

Fly Fishing on the Haunted Upper Sacramento River

Thankfully, no invisible or bony hand ever reached out to touch my shoulder on dark evenings while fishing the October…

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Outdoors

I Spent a Day Snorkeling Down Clear Creek in Redding. Am I Weird?

When you combine a pithy streak of spontaneity with a penchant for living life on the edge, bad things might…

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History

What’s in a Name? The Story Behind Hat Creek

Names almost always make for a good story, and Hat Creek is no exception. Of course, not everyone may agree that…

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