An overdue trip to the McCloud River

McCloud River trout

Ph: Tyler Graff

Overdue indeed. While I’ve been blessed to travel the world to fly fish, regretfully my travels have taken me away from what’s in my own backyard in California. And despite having many opportunities for more travel, I truly want to focus on the many places I haven’t fished in California.

To (finally) get the ball rolling, I ventured with Tyler Graff of Baetis & Stones to the McCloud River in Northern California. Yeah … seriously … I’d never been to the McCloud.

McCloud River fly fishing

Ph: Tyler Graff

Just like the famous trout on this river, the natural landscape of the region took hold of me. We ended up having a six hour drive in the rain, but the drive in the dark on rugged mountain roads added to the feeling of heading somewhere remote and new, and when we pitched tents upon our arrival, we found that the sound of the river all night was a perfect lullaby. And to wake up to the sound of the river only fueled anticipation.

fly fishing McCloud River

Ph: Tyler Graff

The section of the McCloud we fished was spectacularly beautiful. Warnings of an abundance of rattlesnakes was unnerving, but close encounters with nice mule deer bucks brought in aspects of nature that were certainly welcome. Apparently a large bear cruised through camp as well. The short hike to the preserve was beautiful — as was every stretch of the river. The McCloud is a gem.

nautilus reel

Ph: Tyler Graff

Despite hearing that it was a slow couple of days on the water, I was psyched with the number of fish we caught. And the limited number of people on the water was a delightful surprise. In fact, I spent about five hours on one small run alone. In Colorado, to have such good water to yourself would have to come in a blizzard or on Christmas morning. I just couldn’t walk away.

Camping and fishing the McCloud was a treat, and I can’t wait to return. Every single trout was gorgeous, and everything from the mountains to the water to the wildlife was too much to take in at once. Ah … California.

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