The Pit River consists of a series of dams and reservoirs that stretch for some 30 miles from Lake Britton to Shasta Lake.
If there's one river around here that intimidates people, it's the Pit. One reason for this could be the common descriptions of the river: "The Pit River is a nasty, gnarly thing... like walking on greased bowling balls all day," or "It's not a question of when you fall in on the Pit, it's how many times!" There is some truth to these statements. The Pit tumbles down a steep, rugged canyon marked by a seemingly endless array of slick boulders. The hiking can be arduous, and the wading can be tricky.
For those adventurous anglers willing to work a little, the rewards of fishing the Pit River are
well worth it. The tough reputation of the river keeps many anglers away, making the Pit a great place to get away from it all. Each and every pocket of water on the river holds fish, and amazingly large fish at that. These wild, football-shaped Rainbows are the definition of strong-willed and hard-fighting. Many anglers, after finally summoning up the courage to test the Pit's tumultuous waters, have remarked that it is arguably "the finest wild trout river in California." Indeed, the strength and power of these scrappy rainbows will astonish any angler who challenge and conquer the Pit River.
The Fishing on the Pit River
Most of the access points on the Pit are about an hour's drive from our front door.
The Pit River is a pocket-water fisherman's dream-stream, flowing through a scenic canyon that is littered with boulders of all shape and size. These boulders, and the oxygen-rich waters flowing around them, provide the perfect sanctuary for dozens of species of aquatic insects. This massive food source enables the Pit's foot-ball shaped wild rainbows to grow big, fast, and powerful.
Our guide staff primarily nymph fishes this stream, although there are occasional hatches of stoneflies, caddis, and mayflies that will bring some fish to the surface, searching for an easy meal. Our guides have put in a lot of time exploring the many rugged miles of the Pit River, and know some fantastic places to wet a line (and tie into leaping rainbows cast after
When our guide staff isn't working hard on the Lower Sacramento River, this is where they spend their fishing time, and some of our guides specialize in fishing this wonderful river. They know the river well, and have figured out the secrets to success for all the different seasons. Despite the miles of accessible water on the Pit, utilizing one of our river guides can dramatically increase the learning curve, saving hours of guesswork and frustrating lost time. Our guides are all excellent instructors, so your day on the river will be a great learning experience, not only about the river itself, but also the various techniques that can be successful there.
Reservations & Rates
Our guide staff is among the best in the industry, and our guide and Private Waters management team will work hard to make sure that you're placed with the right guide for your specific needs. We've been putting together guided fishing trips for three decades, and have the experience to coordinate a memorable day on the water for just about any group. Over the years, we've developed a few guidelines to help ensure that your trip is as successful as possible.
We can work with you to select a guide that's matched to your skills, interests, their
specialty or, perhaps, the equipment involved. Some of our guides are more instruction-oriented than others and are better suited for the novice wanting to combine a day of guided fishing with a learning experience, while others just plain know how to catch fish.
If you have a specific request or have been with us before, we can help reserve guide dates with one of your favorite guides based on that guide's specific availability. If not, we're happy to hook you up with one of several of our guides who specialize on our Northern California freestone streams.
Package Cost: The cost of the full-day Pit River guided package is:
• $450 per day (1-2 anglers per guide)
• $500 per day (Package deal, including flies, tackle, & equipment)
Inclusions: Included in your guided angling package on the Pit River is 8-10 hours of guided fishing with lunch provided.
Non-Inclusions: Not included in your guided angling package on the Pit River are fishing license, waders, rods/reels, and terminal tackle (flies, tippet, etc.)
Package Deals: 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.
We do not recommend it, but we can occasionally accommodate 3 anglers. We never recommend fishing 3 anglers to a guide on wade trips, as there is simply no way that the guide can give 3 different anglers enough time to guarantee a positive experience for all. If everyone in the group is an experienced angler and you're mainly looking for help finding river accesses, it may work. But it is never a good idea for 3 novice anglers. There is an additional $100 fee for a 3rd angler.
The Fly Shop® is not in the insurance business, but we recommend Travel Guard coverage as a service with a desire to see your best interests protected. It is impossible to know when an unfortunate situation (loss of luggage, fly rods, illness in the family, or an accident) may occur. However, such things can and do happen, and this insurance can provide a means of recourse against non-refundable financial losses. Click HERE for Travel Guard's Policies and more information
Seasons of the Pit River
Regulations were changed a few years ago to allow year-round fishing on the Pit River. While runoff and weather conditions can impact the river's fishability at times, the Pit River can provide some great walk and wade, classic pocket water fly fishing options through much of the year.
February, March, and April:
Late winter and early Spring fishing on the Pit River, if water conditions and weather cooperate, is terrific. There are hatches of March Brown mayflies and smaller caddisflies that can begin as early as February and run throughout March and April, topped out by Pale Morning Duns that start in mid-April. And the massive stoneflies even begin to hatch as the weather warms in April.
The fishing during these early months is largely dependent upon weather conditions and runoff. Fortunately, the river's flows are almost entirely controlled by releases from its many dams and powerhouses, so even on wet years it generally remains fishable through much of the spring season and the Pit has become our favorite early season fishery. Stormy weather can bring on some memorable Baetis mayfly hatches, while the warm, sunny days that mark the start of spring in the North State are quite possibly the best conditions for the fishing that time of year. The warm weather gets the bugs moving, and the more bugs are active the more responsive the trout are likely to be. We've discovered that some of the best dry fly fishing of the entire year comes on sunny days in March and April on the Pit.
May and June:
May and June have long been considered some of the "prime time" months on the river. As the weather warms in late spring and early summer many different types of insects begin to hatch on the Pit, creating consistent opportunities throughout each day to catch fish on both nymphs and dry flies.
The most important hatches on the Pit this time of year are the stoneflies. The massive salmonflies are the first of the stoneflies to appear, hatching sporadically throughout the month of May and sometimes into early June. They are followed by numerous Golden Stoneflies and Little Yellow Stoneflies, all of which can get the Pit River's wild rainbow trout rising on the surface. And even when the fish aren't focused on the flying adult insects, the pocket-water nymphing with big stonefly nymphs can be as good as it gets.
July and August:
The "dog days" of summer are the best time of year to wet-wade the Pit River, and highsticking the pocket water and oxygenated pools of the river will produce nice trout throughout the morning and middle of the day, with hatches of Golden Stoneflies and caddis bringing about sporadic dry fly opportunities in the hour or so just before dark.
By late July or early August the many submerged boulders on the river begin to turn black with midge larva, providing a new delicacy for the trout from late summer through the fall. Angling traffic on the river is light during the summer months, but it is literally one of our favorite times of year on the river. You will rarely see another angler, and it can be a great time of year to join the 20/20 club (20 inch fish on #20 fly).
September and October:
Fall brings on some of the Pit River's bigger bugs, including its famous Isonychia mayflies and a few giant October Caddis, as well as the best weather of the season. Both of these large insects emerge by crawling out onto streamside boulders and vegetation, so although dry fly opportunities are rare, the powerful rainbows of the trout often gorge themselves on the nymphs that are easily dislodged in the tumultuous pocket water of the steep canyon.
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 the Pit, throughout both the fall and winter seasons.
November, December, and January:
The Winter Months on the Pit River provide some great late-season opportunities for die-hard trout anglers. The mornings and evenings are often cold in the narrow river canyon, but midday sunshine can warm the river up and provide some good action on nymphs and streamers for some of the river's bigger fish holding in the deeper pools. And anglers fishing the Pit in the winter months should always be prepared with a few blue-winged olive dry flies, as overcast afternoons can have some memorable Baetis mayfly hatches.
Lodging for the Pit River
The Pit River is only an hour's drive from Redding, and some sections are not far from of the town of Burney. While most of our Pit River anglers choose to stay in Redding, some also opt for lodging in the Burney area, staying at one of Burney's cozy motels or nearby campgrounds.
Rentals & Private Lodging:
Hat Creek Ranch
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.
Clearwater Lodge on the Pit River
24500 Pit One Powerhouse Road
Fall River Mills, CA 96028
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.
Motels & Hotels:
Shasta Pines Motel & Suites
37386 Main St
Burney, CA 96013
• Easy to find in downtown Burney right on Hwy 299E, a long-time favorite for Fall River and Hat Creek anglers.
37363 Main St
Burney, CA 96010
• Easy to find in downtown Burney right on Hwy 299E.
Green Gables Motel
37385 Main St
Burney, CA 96013
• Easy to find in downtown Burney right on Hwy 299E./p>
Campgrounds & RV Parks:
Deep Creek Campground on the Pit River
• Reservations not required, Deep Creek Campground can be accessed from the community of Big Bend; 4 wheel drive is not required, but may be a good idea.
• Shaded campsites, outhouse facilities, fishing access on Pit River.
Burney Falls State Park Campground
• Great campsites, outhouse facilities, cabin rentals, hiking trails to majestic Burney Falls, fishing access on Burney Creek.
Hat Creek Hereford Ranch RV Park & Campground
41397 Opdyke Ln
Hat Creek, CA
• Located on upper Hat Creek, this campground and RV park is approximately 30 minutes from Fall River, but does have some nice sites and access to upper Hat Creek.
Booking a Guide for the Pit River
To make a reservation, please give us a call at 800-669-3474 during business hours any day of the week, or email us at email@example.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.