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.