Aerial view of the Sundial Bridge and Sacramento River in Redding, California.
Sheraton Redding Hotel at the Sundial Bridge in Redding, California
Two woman toasting at Lake Shasta Dinner Cruise in Redding, California.
Conference event at Redding Civic Auditorium in Redding, California.
Aerial view of the Sundial Bridge and Sacramento River in Redding, California.
Sheraton Redding Hotel at the Sundial Bridge in Redding, California
Two woman toasting at Lake Shasta Dinner Cruise in Redding, California.
Conference event at Redding Civic Auditorium in Redding, California.

The Best 5 Fishing Spots Around Redding

By Choose Redding | 01/12/2021

Anglers from all over the world have long been drawn to the streams, creeks, and rivers around Redding—and for good reason; the fish bite all year long. It’s so popular, Forbes listed Redding as a “Top 10 Trout Fishing Town in North America” and was the only city on the West Coast to earn the honors. Aquifers and porous landscapes (a byproduct of centuries of volcanic activity) lead to fresh, cold water throughout the mountainous region and the cleanliness of the area’s waterways make them ideal habitats for a variety of popular species.

Add it all up, and the result is a world-renowned fishing scene. “It’s a very rich environment for aquatic species,” said Chris King, an instructor and guide with The Fly Shop in Redding. “All of the rivers here are super healthy, and all of them support great fishing.”

We chatted with King about fishing in the Redding area—not just about what makes the region so fruitful, but about where to go, what you’ll catch, and what different waterways have to offer. Here’s a guide to the five best fishing spots in (and around) Redding.

No article on fishing in Redding would be complete without a nod to the Lower Sacramento River, which runs through the heart of town and boasts some of the region’s best angling opportunities—all without ever leaving city limits.

The great fishing is partially due to temperature control at the Shasta Dam, which creates optimal conditions for downstream fishing. The warm water gets released in winter, while cold water gets released in summer, all of which creates a stable temperature and the ideal habitat for shad, rainbow trout, steelhead, salmon, and other species. That consistency means those species can be found in the river all year long. “What we have is a great big trout and salmon incubator, and it’s proven to be extremely prolific,” King said of the Lower Sacramento.

Unlike the Lower Sacramento River, the Upper Sacramento River—between Shasta Dam and Siskiyou Lake—doesn’t have controls in place to keep it at about the same temperature year-round. Rather, the Upper Sacramento boasts a wilder, more remote experience that comprises river canyons and lush forests. The general public can easily access up to 40 miles of the river, and it’s here that anglers fly fish for some of the region’s best trout runs.

King, in particular, enjoys the river's wide variety of natural features—clear pools and riffles among them—which combine to create a new angling experience with every outing.

In 1877, the nation's first federal fish hatchery was established on a tributary of the McCloud River. Eggs and juvenile trout from that hatchery were eventually used to stock hatcheries and waterways throughout the United States and on six continents, making the McCloud River trout something of a celebrity in angling communities the world over.

Naturally, the McCloud River trout’s original home makes a fine place to fish for several species of, well, trout. Originating from several spring-fed streams high in the Cascades, the McCloud River boasts clean, cool waters—both necessary for healthy trout migrations. The river's prime fishing season runs May through November, with little variance from spring to summer to fall. McCloud River levels are controlled by releases from the McCloud Reservoir, making the river relatively stable and less prone to rising or falling levels with winter runoff or autumn rains.

Talk to any angler in and around Redding, and they’ll be quick to cite Hat Creek—a tributary of the Pit River—as one of the region’s premier waterways.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has designated a 3.5-mile stretch of the creek—just upstream from Lake Britton—as part of its Wild Trout Waters program. The designation means Hat Creek is managed to support (and sustain) wild trout populations. As a result, anglers appreciate its wide channel, slow current, and dense vegetation—all ideal circumstances for the large rainbow and brown trout patrolling its waters.

The Trinity River is a fine river to fish all year long, buoyed by its wilderness expanse and clean waters. It’s no accident the Trinity, a tributary of the Klamath River, was designated a National Wild and Scenic River.

But, King says the river’s salmon and steelhead runs—which happen between late spring and the heart of winter—are the stuff of legend. Steelhead runs generally arrive in fall and winter, while the region’s chinook and coho salmon runs happen between late spring and the middle of fall—all below the Lewiston Dam. Highway 299 largely parallels the river and offers a variety of access points and opportunities to enjoy a dose of solitude.

No matter what time of year you choose to visit Redding, the fishing is good getting. Whether you wait for the Trinity’s legendary salmon and steelhead runs, catch the amazing trout runs of the Upper Sacramento, or enjoy year-round fishing in a number of other spots, you’re time on the water will be well spent. Grab a line and get ready to cast in Redding.

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