The first thing we noticed as we explored the Upper Sacramento, or Upper Sac as it’s better known, was that most everywhere you looked at the water, if you looked up, you’d see Mt. Shasta. The mountain dominates the landscape in this area, and was actually visible from three of the four rivers we fished. I think the only reason we didn’t see it from the McCloud River was that the McCloud River Preservation trail was closed (aka. under water) so we couldn’t get to a vantage point. Even as you drive up and down I-5, Shasta is either in your windshield or your rear view mirror. The picture above was taken from a pedestrian bridge on the Upper Sac.
Fishing the Upper Sac was another story all together. Our first attempt was with our guide, Matt Dahl. We looked at the river in three different locations, gave up due to the VERY high flows and went to the Lower Sac.
The next day, Barb and I decided to go to the historic little town of Dunsmuir, to the Ted Fay Fly Shop. We talked with Bob in the shop about where we might try to fish and as he was giving us some suggestions, another patron, Andy, told us what had been working for him and that he’d caught fish the day before. After getting some flies from Bob, off we went to the river where the first image was taken. As we were walking out of a spot we tried to access the river, we ran into Andy. Andy told us to follow him and he’d show us a good spot to fish. We followed Andy, and actually went back to one of the access spots Matt had stopped at originally, but Andy walked upstream a bit and showed us an “easy” access spot to scramble down to the river from the railroad tracks. While we didn’t fish there that day, even though Andy invited us to join him, we made note of the spot and would return later.
We decided to go back to Dunsmuir for lunch at Yaks, which was voted by Yelp as one of the “Top 100 Restaurants in America”, 2015 edition. Yaks is very cool place with incredibly unique and awesome burgers. They had a pretty good selection of local brews as well. We left stuffed and happy as we went to try a couple of other spots, but to no avail; the river was just too high and fast.
The following day, after we’d fished the McCloud with Ernie Dennison, he took us over to a different spot on the Upper Sac near the town of Mt. Shasta. The river was still raging as we tried one particular spot and still, no fish.
Back we went the next day, with the flies in hand Bob had sold us, and directly to the spot Andy had shared. We crossed the railroad tracks, scrambled down the path to the river and set to fishing on the rocks above the river (see pic 3 above). After getting the right amount of line out, setting up our nymph rigs deep, we started casting out toward some large rocks submerged under the water. BOOM…. first one, then two fish hit our flies and we’d scored our Upper Sac rainbows…. no “Skunking” on the Upper Sac.
After catching our Upper Sacramento rainbows, it was back to Dunsmuir, only this time, for a picnic lunch at a park by the river. The park had numerous plaques on rocks and picnic tables commemorating area anglers who’d made contributions to the community and river. One of the most famous of those was Ted Fay, whose fly shop in Dunsmuir we’d visited. All of the plaques had wonderful thoughts and sayings on them that reminded us of the beauty, tranquility and peace to be found in the art of fly fishing and the outdoors where these streams flow.
We’ll not ever forget our time here in the “North State” as locals call it. After spending a couple of weeks here in the area, we’ll also always feel Shasta is watching over us as our River Ramble adventures continue.