THE REMAINING OPEN SPOTS IN EITHER (OR BOTH) OF THESE EDUCATIONAL LTFF FISH-OUTS ARE BEING OFFERED TO ALL CURRENT LTFF STUDENTS OF ANY CLASS, AND FOR ALL PAST LTFF ALUMS TO SIGN-UP IMMEDIATELY. GUIDES WILL BE LEADING GROUPS OF 4 PEOPLE ON INFORMATIONAL 2-DAY WALK-AND-WADES.
These two Upper McCloud River Fish-outs on Friday-Saturday, June 28-29 (Group 1) and Sunday-Monday, June 30-July 1 (Group 2) are exclusively intended for currently registered Beginner (STEP 1) students in the GGACC's "Learn to Fly Fish" (LTFF) program. Online registration will be opened at a date and time to be announced to the entire LTFF Beginner Class via email. Registration for these fish-outs is limited and based on a first-to-register basis only. There will be 12 openings for each group. Registration is limited to only one group initially, unless advised otherwise by the LTFF program director.
No doubt you have heard of the McCloud River if you have talked with many fly anglers in Northern California, since it is truly one of our state's most treasured fisheries for rainbow and brown trout. However, most of that reputation comes from the larger Lower McCloud River that comes out of the McCloud Reservoir and runs down to Lake Shasta through some picturesque but rugged canyons that cross both public and private lands, including limited access into the Nature Conservancy waters and members-only access to some very exclusive club water. The Lower McCloud is particularly well-known for big browns that come out of Lake Shasta in the fall to spawn. But the Lower McCloud is not a good river for teaching Beginners how to fly fish, especially in the spring, so we are headed for the first time this year to the smaller Upper McCloud River instead, in the section of the river best known to campers, sightseers, and hikers for its scenic Lower Falls and Middle Falls.
Since much of the water for the Upper McCloud River comes from springs, we're hoping to find a little less run-off and high water than currently expected on Sierra streams, giving us a chance to hopefully teach you dry fly, dry-dropper, and indicator nymphing techniques as well as how to read water and wade safely. Since this is unfamiliar water to your fish-out leader, he has hired 3 professional guides each day to serve as your "instructors" for 3 groupings of 4 students each. These guides will be primarily teaching and not acting as normal guides would -- meaning that they are not going to be doing everything that they would normally do for you (except casting and catching the fish), especially since they will have four of you to be working with and not the usual limit of just two anglers per guide.
Under the watchful eyes of these guides, the students will be deciding how and where to start fishing, rigging up their own rods, selecting and tying on their own flies, untangling their own casting messes, and landing their own fish (hopefully). The guides will be helping to instruct you wherever you need it and offering suggestions about the required casting techniques, how to approach the water and what to look for there, while helping you select a target for your cast and suggesting how to move safely into position for that cast. You learn best by listening carefully and then attempting it on your own with subsequent critique from your guide about your mistakes. Review your class hand-outs beforehand as needed.
Meeting Location EACH morning at 8:30AM: UON, you will meet and check in with your fish-out leader each morning in Fowlers Campground at a specific location there still to be confirmed with the guides. Before the guides arrive at 9:00AM, you will need to make your own sandwiches from provided supplies, pick up or fill water bottles, and then wader-up to be ready to go with your assigned guide (but don't assemble or string your rods until told to do so by the guide). You'll also need to pinch the barbs on your provided flies and put them in your fly box on the first morning.
Fowlers Campground is 5 miles east of the town of McCloud on CA Hwy 89 and about 1 mi. south of the highway on Fowler Public Camp Rd. Look for a sign "Fowlers / Lower Falls" and turn right just after the sign to go another mile south. Once you cross River Loop Rd., the left fork goes to the campground and the right fork goes to the day use area for the Lower Falls. Watch for further info about where to park. GPS Coord. for the campground: Lat. 41.2448556, Long. -122.0232556
Camping or Lodging Options: You are on your own for finding or booking your own accommodations each night.
Fowlers Campground (EL 3300') is very popular and most of its 39 campsites were sold out back in January when reservations (at recreation.gov) were first opened for our dates -- before this fish-out was even considered to be added to the Beginner program. But it may have as many as 8 walk-up (non-reservable campsites), one of which might just happen to be open when you arrive (max. stay is 15 days and most of these sites are probably $15 cash per night). A nearby group camp (Camp 4) was also reserved by others too early for our having any way of getting it this year.
The best chance for a nearby campsite is probably at the Cattle Camp Campground (at EL 3700') that does not have any reservable campsites. All 27 walk-up campsites there are suitable for both tent and RV camping with picnic tables, fire rings, vault toilets, and piped drinking water. This campground is about 5 miles upstream (east) of Fowlers Campground off Tate Creek Road. The sites are $15 per night with a max. stay of 14 days. To get to Cattle Camp CG, drive east 10.5 miles from the McCloud Ranger Station on CA-89. Look for a sign on the left side of the hwy for Cattle Camp Campground and turn right (south) at the sign. Go approx. 1/3 mile farther and then left into the campground. GPS: Lat. 41.25937011 Long. -121.9396524
The next closest tent camping option, again with no reservable sites, is the undeveloped Algoma Campground (EL 3800') farther upstream at the end of the McCloud River Trail that has 8 user-created camp areas with one vault toilet, but no drinking water (and no fee). To find it, go 13 miles east of the McCloud Ranger Station on CA-89 and watch for a turn-off for Algoma (Stouts Meadow) and turn right at a cross-country skier sign to go 1 more mile. GPS: Lat. 41.2566335808 Long. -121.8830887
There is an RV park in McCloud and campgrounds a few miles south of Dunsmuir at Castle Crags State Park and the private Railroad Park Resort. There is likely at least one inn in tiny McCloud, but no motels. There are motel options along I-5 in Mt. Shasta (where CA-89 takes off from I-5), 6mi. south of there in Dunsmuir, and a little farther north in Weed.
Gear Needed: Other than any camping gear that you may decide to bring, your fishing and other gear should include: a 4 or 5 wt fly rod with floating line, at least 2-3 9ft. 4X leaders, mono tippet spools in 3X-5X, (optionally) fluoro tippet in 4X-5X, a few medium sized indicators of your choice, split-shot in at least AB & BB sizes, forceps, nippers, gel (or liquid) silicon fly floatant, dry-shake dessicant floatant, and a small or medium sized fly box (preferably watertight). You will be supplied with a selection of about 2 dozen flies that should be enough for this one outing, but bring some of your own if you have any now just in case.
Bring a pack of some sort or a fishing vest suitable to carry your fishing gear, lunch, and at least 1-2 bottles of water, plus a packable rain jacket or water resistant shell if there is any chance of rain or cool weather. You must have a wading staff with a lanyard, a hat with brim or bill, polarized sunglasses, and at least one wading belt for your waders.
Bring waders and wading boots (felt-soled or studded rubber-soled) and, if you think that you might prefer to wet-wade if its hot, a pair of neoprene guard socks (to wear over cotton wading socks to both fill your wading boots and help keep sand out of your socks).
Don't forget your fishing license (it's a long drive back to get a duplicate copy), sunscreen, and bug repellent. Optional gear includes sungloves, a buff, a landing net on a stretchy lanyard, a marine safety whistle, tiny first aid kit, small toilet paper or kleenex pack, and a little note book & pencil and maybe a stream thermometer if you are really getting into it.
If you hope to tent camp and have never tried this before, look to REI.com for a suggested list of camping gear, most of which they can rent to you if you are not inclined to purchase it all for the first time or two.
Registration fee of $300.00 covers the guides' fees (but not gratuities of $25-35 per day), lunches, and provided flies. It does not cover campground fees or other lodging, meals other than the two lunches, travel costs, or guide gratuities.
Students should remember to personally thank and tip their guide at the end of each day (based on how much you learned, not how many fish you caught) since you will likely be assigned a different guide each day.
Registrations must be completed by paying the fee online to entitle you to a spot. There are no refunds possible if you are unable to go after having completed your registration unless there is someone on a waitlist willing to pay that fee to replace you.
As soon as the registrations are mostly filled, you will be getting rosters of the registrants in each group and their contact info so that you may choose to reach out to your group about carpools, sharing rooms, etc.
For questions, contact your fish-out leader: John Murphy (firstname.lastname@example.org)