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The Best Time to Go Fly Fishing in Northern California
While there are plenty of opportunities for fishing in California year round, if you plan to go fly fishing in Northern California, the best time of year to go is generally spring through fall. To maximize your catch rates, you’ll just want to pay attention to the hatch seasons when you go to match your flies accordingly. For example, while the mayfly hatches almost year round, others like caddis flies are found between March and August.
Northern California Fly Fishing Hot Spots
When fly fishing in Northern California, whether you want to cast from a river bank, the ocean shore or by boat, there is no shortage of great places to choose from.
- Fall River: Crystal clear and cold spring water make this a perfect place for trout and a standout fly fishing destination in Northern California.
- The Delta: Home to diverse and plentiful species, the Delta is one of the most popular places to go fly fishing in Northern California. There you’ll find striped bass, large and small mouth bass, salmon and bluegill, among other species.
- Pit River: A tributary of the Sacramento River, this spot is filled with slippery boulders, which can make for a challenging outing. But there’s a payoff for the hard work: plentiful rainbow trout that you’ll have virtually all to yourself.
- McCloud River: This river is stocked with trout so there’s no shortage of the species here. The canyon backdrop makes it even more appealing for those anglers seeking a peaceful location.
- Yuba River: The Yuba River is one of the best trout fisheries in the western states, famous for its rainbow trout population. It’s also a great spot to fish for steelhead smolt.
- Carson River, East Fork: Looking for serenity? Look no further. This beautiful mountain river is perfect for fly fishing. Here you’ll catch whitefish and multiple species of trout.
- San Francisco Bay: If fishing off the coast is more your style and you want to go surf fly fishing in California, then San Francisco Bay is one of the best locations. Ocean Beach and Crissy Field are also good spots to try.
- Putah Creek: Thanks to the creation of the Monticello, Putah Creek is home to a rainbow trout fishery, offering the best chance of success below the dam.
- Hat Creek: If you’re in search of trophy trout, head to Hat Creek, east of Redding. You’ll find both brown and rainbow trout hidden in the brush that lines the riverbanks.
- Trinity River: This river that flows from Lewiston Lake is a top destination for steelhead from August to April. There’s even a spot that’s a fly-only section that makes it perfect for beginners.
California Fly Fishing License Requirements
Before you head out to one of these great spots to cast your line, be aware that you’ll need to get a temporary or annual fishing license to fly fish in Northern California if you’re 16 or older. That requirement applies whether you’re a resident or visitor to the state.