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Stories from the valley

The Sacramento River – An International Fly Fishing Destination. Who knew?

Contributed by Tim Johnson

It’s a small shop really, tucked along the frontage off I-5 just as you enter Redding. Hidden under the pines. However, is the largest fly shop in the U.S.! What would draw some many to this place. Well it’s the rivers.

People from all over the United States and world come right here to the top end of the Sacramento River to fish for its magnificent rainbow trout. Add the Fall River, McCloud, Trinity and Hat Creek and you are starting to get the picture – we have some of the best fisheries in the world right out our back door.

On a recent smokin’ hot summer day I decided to see what all of the excitement was about and headed the Redding’s ‘The Fly Shop’ for an afternoon drift boat trip down the lower Sacramento River. It was Ann and my first drift boat   trip for rainbows.

After launching right in town, we started an incredible seven–mile float with Ernie, our time–tested guide, that took us through the afternoon and into evening. The water teamed with insects and the sky with osprey and bald eagles. Through the afternoon sun, the last of the cottonwood down gently blew upstream with the evening breeze. The river was alive.

And the fish – amazing! With abundant food from the cold water out of Lake Shasta, the trout are deep–bellied and the pink hue of their sides flash in the evening light. Ann caught the first fish and last fish of the day. The final entry into the journal a five–pound monster that capped one of our most memorable days on the water.

So, the next time you drive up the Sacramento Valley, one of those cars in front of you may well be someone who took a long trip to get to a place many of use consider best suited for gas and a quick bite. After a day on the river, I have to say I have missed the best of the Valley every other time I have made the trip. It is time for me to appreciate what other know and I too often let pass by the driver’s side window.