I love bonefishing and tropical places but I really can’t get away from being a mountain boy at heart. My rivers are still dear to me and I was glad to share them with one of the guys I met down in Cuba this past weekend. I picked Matt Hansen up in Santa Rosa after work on Friday and kept heading North until we arrived in Dunsmuir, my home town and where my parents still live.
Saturday morning we had breakfast at the house with my folks and then we ran down to the Ted Fay Fly Shop to talk to Bob and hear how things were fishing. The Ted Fay Fly Shop is a great shop, key to my entry into fly fishing, and I’m glad they moved downtown a few years back. Bob told us that someone had stated, “the McCloud was the most crowded I’ve ever seen.” That wasn’t good news as the McCloud is sometimes referred to as the McCrowd for its tendency to have an angler in every run at certain times of year. It didn’t sound ideal, but that is where I wanted to go, so we went anyway.
I-5 to 89 to the lake to the dirt road headed down toward the river. We got down to Ah Di Nah and decided to take a tour of the campground to see how bad things were.
There was almost no one there. Two tents and one still had the people in them. We stopped there and started off upstream.
The McCloud is one of the most beautiful places you can hope to see or experience. I know Montana is wonderful and Oregon is beautiful and then there are the flats of Andros and the expanses of Cuba and the mangrove lined channels of Belize… but I’d put the McCloud up against any of them.
Luckily it isn’t only beautiful, it has pretty little fish and they started cooperating almost immediately. The crowded river was ours. We picked our way along the banks, up and over the boulders, through the brush (avoiding the staggering amounts of Poison Oak). We didn’t see another rod waving above us for 3/4 of the day.
After I felt I’d caught “enough” on nymphs I decided to put on a stimie and see what would come up. The answer was very un-California like. Fish started rising at 2:00 to a big, bushy dry fly.
The Elusive Blurry McCloud Rainbow (I need a better camera).
I sometimes feel like my rivers have personalities and, maybe even feelings. I think they get a little mad when I don’t see them, when I ignore them. They can act a little hurt if they feel slighted.
I was glad the McCloud wasn’t upset with me. In fact, it seemed to welcome me back with open arms.
We fished up the canyon from pool to run to riffle, tracking back toward the source. We turned one bend and found the sun hidden by the steep walls of the canyon and something seemed to have switched off. Despite putting decent numbers in the book, I just had a feeling the fishing was done. Matt had a similar feeling and we just decided to find the trail and head back.
A wonderful day.
Matt really appreciated the beauty of the place and it is always nice to share something special with someone who gets it.
The McCloud... Upstate California, from a trip in 2011.
Next up… the Upper Sac where the pictures were better and the fishing was slow.