Hat Creek represents the quintessential chess game of spring creek fly fishing for wary trout.

It bubbles out of the numerous aquifers near Mt Lassen and runs clear and cold throughout the season, providing ample habitat for a variety of different aquatic insects, including stoneflies, caddisflies, and multiple mayfly species. The shallow, easily waded riffles and long glass-smooth flats of Hat Creek offer ideal holding water for the stream’s resident rainbow and brown trout, and it is perfectly suited to fly fishing.

Hat Creek is one of the longest spring creeks in California, and is generally broken up into two main sections. Upper Hat Creek runs for over thirty miles from its headwaters in Lassen National Park downstream towards the small community of Cassel. Much of this section of river runs through private land, but there are several sections that are well stocked throughout the season and a popular family camping and fishing spot. The Wild Trout Section is the lower 3.2 miles of Hat Creek flowing from the PowerHouse #2 to Lake Britton and is the home of the best fly fishing water.

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Reservations & Rates

The cost of the full-day Hat Creek guided package is:
• $450 per day (1-2 anglers per guide)
• $500 per day (Package deal, including flies, tackle, & equipment)

Included in your guided angling package on Hat Creek is 8-10 hours of guided fishing with lunch provided.

Not included in your guided angling package on Hat Creek are fishing license, waders, rods/reels, and terminal tackle (flies, tippet, etc.)

If you are just getting started in the sport, or will be traveling and don't want to hassle with dragging along all of your gear, you may want to consider our guide trip "Package Deal." This inclusive option is only an additional $50 per day, and with it the guides will provide the necessary rods, reels, flies, tackle and equipment to ensure that you have the right gear and flies for the day. If you're an experienced angler and/or fly tier, call ahead and we'll let you know exactly what flies are producing so you can be sure to tie them beforehand or bring them along.

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Seasons at Hat Creek

Hat Creek opens to fishing on the last Saturday in April and remains open through November 15.

Hat is a spring creek, it flows mostly un-impacted by runoff, running clear and cold consistently almost every day of the season.

May and June:
May and June are generally considered the "prime time" months on Hat Creek. Starting as early as Opening Day (last Saturday in April), myriad insects begin to hatch on the spring creek, creating consistent opportunities throughout each day to catch fish on both nymphs and dry flies.

There can be so many different hatches coming off at the same time on Hat Creek during this time of year, it can be difficult to figure out which bugs the fish are eating. The most important hatches are generally the bigger insects, such as the salmonflies in May and Green Drakes in June, but the trout in the Wild Trout Section of Hat Creek will fill in the gaps throughout the course of each day feeding on little yellow stoneflies, Pale Morning Duns, and caddis. When the fish aren't readily taking dry flies, they can generally be taken dead-drifting nymphs under indicators in the riffle water.

Due to the prolific insect hatches in the spring and early summer, many of the more commonly known accesses on Hat Creek – such as the famous Powerhouse #2 riffle – can be quite crowded at times. Fortunately, there are plenty of fish to be caught and angler etiquette is almost always finely displayed. Still, for those wanting to get away from the crowds, our guides have a few tricks up there sleeve to access different sections of Hat Creek that see less fishing pressure.

July and August:
July and August are sometimes considered the dog days of summer on Hat Creek, but there is still some great fly fishing to be had at that time of year. There are consistent hatches of tiny Trico mayflies nearly every morning, and caddisflies by the thousands continue to emerge in the riffles at dusk.

Anglers targeting Hat Creek in the midsummer months generally focus on the hatches that occur early and late in the day. Admittedly, midday fishing can be slow, making midday siestas a nice relaxing change of pace, although die-hard anglers will often head to the nearby Pit River to high-stick its oxygenated pocket waters before heading back to Hat Creek for the evening rise. Combining Hat Creek dry fly fishing with Pit River nymphing can make for a great day of summer fishing, and likely without seeing another soul on either stream.

September, October, & November:
The Fall Season on Hat Creek is a favorite time of year on the creek for locals. Other North State Rivers get most of the attention and angling traffic, so it's not uncommon to have Hat Creek entirely to yourself to enjoy the morning Trico Hatches. Caddisflies are common during the evening rise, and there are even a few of the giant October Caddis to get the bigger fish in the creek excited. Dry fly opportunities abound, while dead-drifting nymphs – or even suspending dropper nymphs below big attractor dry flies – can also be quite productive.

On overcast days, there can be some phenomenal blue-winged olive hatches. These tiny mayflies respond to changes in barometric pressure, and hatch whenever a storm front moves through the area, stimulating some great midday dry fly action on all of our regional streams, including Hat Creek. For a real challenge, try to trick the finicky trout that live in Hat Creek's most demanding section of technical water: the clear, smooth micro-currents of Carbon Flats.

Hat Creek closes for fishing on the 15th of November and opens again the following April.

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Fishing at Hat Creek

Hat Creek opens to fishing on the last Saturday in April and remains open through November 15.

The section on Hat Creek from Powerhouse #2 down to Lake Britton provides an array of quintessential fly fishing water; it is where the serious fly fishermen spend their time. This section of river is 3.2 miles long, all of which is designated as Wild Trout water with Trophy Trout restrictions.

The Wild Trout section of Hat Creek begins at Powerhouse #2, where the creek cascades down a long riffle before tapering off into the deep weedy water below. This riffle is probably one of the most popular – and productive – portions of water in the entire state. Every day of the season there are likely to be several anglers working the riffle. Despite this constant pressure, the riffle fishes well throughout the seasons, with dry fly hatches occurring almost every day and great nymph fishing when the fish aren't rising.

Below the Powerhouse #2 riffle, Hat Creek spreads out and slows down, turning into typical spring creek conditions. The river bottom in this Carbon Flats area is composed of a silty, weed-lined bottom that is perfect for aquatic insects, especially several species of mayflies including Tricos, Baetis, and PMD's. This is technical, spring creek fishing at its very finest.

Hat Creek changes its nature one more time around the point where it flows under Highway 299. Here it becomes more freestone in nature, consisting of a long series of riffles, pockets, and a few deep pools formed by ledges. Fish frequently hold in the pockets and around the ledges. There is considerably less fishing pressure in this part of the river, and the fishing generally not as technical as in the Carbon Flats area. In addition, the freestone nature of this piece of water, combined with the constant cool flows, makes it ideal conditions for Stoneflies. There are some great Salmonfly hatches in the spring, as well as Little Yellow Stones, several varieties of Caddis, and many Mayflies as well.

The fish in this section of Hat Creek are well-educated – many are said to have PhD's in deciphering artificial flies – and see a fair amount of pressure throughout the year. Their extreme wariness is what makes them so desirable to anglers wishing to test their spring creek tactics. It takes long leaders, delicate presentations, and matching the hatch precisely to fool these wary rainbow and brown trout. Several of our guides specialize in fly fishing on Hat Creek; their local knowledge and teaching ability make a day on the river an invaluable learning experience.

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Lodging for Hat Creek

Hat Creek is only an hour's drive from Redding, and only ten minutes east of the town of Burney. As a result, our Hat Creek anglers have the option to stay either in Redding or in Burney. If you'll be enjoying an extended stay in the intermountain region, staying at one of Burney's cozy motels or nearby campgrounds may be your best option, while if you're considering multi-day trips to our other regional streams Redding makes for a great centralized jumping off point.

MOTELS, LODGES & CAMPGROUNDS:

Circle 7 Guest Ranch
Phone: 530-222-3555
Website: Circle 7 Guest Ranch
• Circle 7 Guest Ranch is located across the river from Bob Wilson's Riverside House near Island Bridge, offering accommodations, river access, and boats.

Spinnerfall Lodge
Phone: 530-222-3555
Website: Spinner Fall Lodge
• Formerly Rick's Lodge, Spinner Fall has been completely renovated and offers lodging, a lounge, restaurant, and boat rental.

Clearwater Lodge on the Pit River
Phone: 530-222-3555
Website: Clearwater Lodge
• Tucked away in a hidden corner of north eastern California is Clearwater Lodge. Nestled in a canyon along the Pit River, this 1920's era classic western fly fishing lodge is in the heart of the west coast's best fly fishing.

Hat Creek Ranch
19005 Hwy 89
Hat Creek, Calif 96040
Phone: 530-222-3555
Website: Hat Creek Ranch
• This secluded, intimate hideaway is sure to please everyone in the family, from hard-core anglers to those just dreaming about a quiet, relaxing getaway.

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Getting to Hat Creek

Hat Creek is a mere hour from the front door of The Fly Shop.

Most Hat Creek wade trips will start by meeting your guide either at The Fly Shop in Redding, at the Hat Creek Park (off Highway 299E just before you cross over Hat Creek).

To get to Hat Creek from Redding, take the Hwy 299 East exit off of Interstate 5 at the north end of Redding and travel to Burney. Travel time is approximately 1 hour. Continue through Burney and go 5 miles to the intersection of Highway 299E and Highway 89. There is a blinking light at this intersection. Continue straight through the intersection on Highway 299 East, then turn left at the Hat Creek Park. If you cross over Hat Creek, you’ve gone too far.

Additional Information


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Booking a Guide for Hat Creek

To book a guide, please give us a call at 800-669-3474 during business hours any day of the week, or email us at bryan@theflyshop.com or zmiller@theflyshop.com anytime. We can give you the answers you need, detailed explanations to questions you might have, or check on availability and confirm your reservation in minutes.