Hat Creek is a river for the fly angler
Early spring on Hat Creek is the “in between” season. A long winter has come to a close, leaves are appearing, snow is melting. Fly fishing anglers have something to look forward to.
Every year in May, near Cassel, CA. Hat Creek invites all anglers of the fly rod to test their skill. As of the last Saturday in April, PMDs, Baetis, Caddis, Stoneflies, Green Drakes, Brown Drakes, billow across the glassy canvas of Hat. The smell of springtime flowers, stinky gortex and neoprene fill my senses. Grungy graphite ferrules slide roughly, unceremoniously, together. As gravel empties from my wading boots and crusty socks, the thoughts of far away rivers elicit echoes of past fishing trips, hovering over each unconscious movement I make. You and everyone else of the tapered leader ilk trickle into the town of Burney, Ca. to evaluate the situation. Determined to get “dialed in”. Not everyone will make the cut..
Tight Loops, Fine Tippet and Cool Senses
During the initial warm-up of early May, anglers stroll and stumble along the streams of Shasta County. Some relive past experiences in riffles, runs and pools. Most anglers embrace the present prospects by putting a cast under that branch, next to the under cut bank where Mr. Brown lives. That’s what we do. Each new cast is recorded in recent memory. All of us trying, some succeeding. The more we hunt and cast, the better. For those who connect, found tight to a rainbow or coveted brown, you are done. Forget the spoils of the other rivers, Hat Creek is not about numbers. Hat is about power and skill. Timing is important, but not decisive. So, a really good hatch puts an angler into fly fishing glory. A day or two later, it’s all history.
As anglers put those flies in front of Hat Creeks finest, reaction times ultimately determine the ego boosting glory of a trophy in he hand. Don’t set the hook with every ounce of lifting power the almighty gave you. A slow, gentle lift get’s the spoils of early Hat Creek spring. No one is too slow on Hat.
While working on the “east side”, I can be found taking an early evening walk along the grassy banks of Hat Creek. Incidental to the eagles, evening light and orange clouds, the casting anglers are a reminder of how amazing Hat is. I sincerely hope, casually analyzing their chances of winning. To each, a handicap is afforded. Some though get past the green light, and even I can see their brake lights. Their presentation comes from within, a mysterious power that conjures up the fins of dreams. I envy them.
We have good water, and good fishing here in N. California. The Lower Sacramento has been producing amazing days of bent rods. Fall River is as it always is in May. Excellent hatches of PMDs and rising rainbow trout. Describing fly fishing in Northern California in May is like trying to describe Baskin Robbins. Get it?