The Pit – Blue Ribbon And Boulders
The Pit River, located a little over an hour drive from Redding California, was named for the ‘pitfall-traps’ the Achomawi dug in order to capture game that ventured to the river’s edge. Today, it seems the entire river is lined with those very traps! Just kidding. If you haven’t fished “The Pit”, you will understand upon stepping riverside that the entire river is lined with holes and pits, created by big boulders, that always make me think of the Achomawi and how they created traps using the topography of the river. The wading is as tough as it can get! Leave your best wading staff at home and use an old ski-pole or a staff that you won’t mind bending in half. The river is swift, deep and slippery. Water clarity is dark making it difficult to identify level footing. Anglers will always fish from a position achieved by careful placement of legs, boots, and hands. It’s not if you will fall in. You will. We all do.
The Pit River is a designated “Blue Ribbon” fishery. And it lives up to the name. There are rainbow trout in front of, next to, behind just about every boulder in the middle of this river. So you’re thinking the fishing will be productive? Yes, but the key is the nymphs have to be placed in front of the fish, not off by 10′ hidden by boulders, out of site. Expect to fish with a lot of split shot (I have used up to 3-SSG shot at times just to get the flies down fast). Veteran anglers of the Pit use ‘High-Stick’ nymphing techniques utilizing ultra-short drifts that hardly spend anytime downstream of the fishing position (To do so will cost flies. Lot’s of them). Indicator technique works well also! And, some anglers swear by dry-dropper strategies when the sun is off the water.
You will catch and release primarily native rainbow trout averaging 14 “. There are some super tough fish here and no surprise when an angler finds a pod of fish averaging 18”. Once hooked up, pull hard on these fish! Use 2-3x. Sometimes, letting these fish run allows them to wrap your gear around a boulder. Heavy tippet helps prevent unnecessary loss of flies on the bottom. I’ve had big bows here brake my 2x off or straighten hooks as they pull the leader around the edges of boulders. Hold your rod high overhead and keep it tightly bent for the most effective fighting advantage.
Make sure you buy a dozen #16 P.T. Nymphs (non-beaded), a dozen #6 ~8 Rubber Legs. Same for #18 Black Zebra Midge. A #12 Black A.P. is a winner in late August through September. That’s all you need. You will lose a lot of flies. Buy heavy split shot too!
Walking the river’s edge is tough and at times futile. This is where your guide Travis comes in. Travis will know when to get in the car/truck and drive to the next honey-hole. Wandering aimlessly amongst the boulders can cost an angler productive fishing on the Pit.
Brown trout are here, but rare. Some of the deeper pools will contain Pike Minnow and possibly Sacramento Suckers (One born every minute).
Year-Round Fly Fishing
This is such a great choice in the winter. No one is here. Solitude is found. While every fly angler in California is off fishing the Trinity River, an equally great experience is available on the Pit. No steelhead here, but the rainbows coupled with winters quiet character make for a unique fly fishing adventure that delivers bent fly rods. But beware! This is lonely winter country and no-one is around. Snow accumulates and can be hazardous. If you find yourself fishing the Pit during a snowstorm, have chains, shovel(s), sleeping bags and food. You might be in the canyon for awhile.
Spring through Fall is hands down the most popular time to fish the Pit. Wet wading the cool waters during the summer is awesome and I have always enjoyed fishing this river during the warm summer months because falling in is no longer an issue but and invited consequence to moving from fishing perch to fishing perch.
The Fall months offer hatches of October Caddis, fall colors and cooler days. Seems like there is never a bad time to fish the Pit River.
The Pit River is divided up into 7 sections, but its sections 3, 4 and 5 that offer the best fishing. Flows are controlled by dams or hydroelectric plants. The Pit is a hydroelectric river. River flows are consistent most of the time with intervals on reaches 4 and 5 exceeding 1,000 CFS in better water years during the late summer months. Steady releases out of Lake Britton typically stay around 300 CFS for Pit #3, the most popular offering the easiest access. River conditions can fluctuate anytime. Winter run-off will contribute to large changes in river volume. Be alert when fishing the Pit. Water releases can and do fluctuate and you could find yourself compromised. In reaches 4 and 5, I would put a marker on the bank and check water elevation occasionally so I could avoid my guests having to make a hasty retreat to higher ground.
A Day On The Pit
Travis will meet you in either Redding or Burney, Ca. Depending on your plans, you can ride with Travis or car-pool to the river. Travis can provide fly rods and flies. Let him know ahead of time. The Pit is a good choice for anglers of all experience. For a beginner, the Pit offers a great introduction to tough wading, solid roll-casting, and nymphing skills. A Pit River experience is the perfect launching pad for future adventures. Travis provides a streamside lunch, water, and soda. If you have special requests for food/drink or a preferred diet, Travis will accommodate you. Expect to fish all day! (8 ~ 10 hours streamside).
How To Book
Travis will reply, typically same day, and help you book your dates. Ask for Dining/Hotel/Motel recommendations.