Many changes on Upper Hat Creek

Vanessa and Tyler Tilcock of Redding with a nice stringer of trout caught at the Free Kid's Fishing Day. These were Vanessa's first fish caught ever. Photo courtesy of Amanda Simmons.

by Gary Heffley
5-19-2017
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Many anglers are finding that fishing is quite a bit different than in past seasons on Hat Creek due to high flows from the winter storms.  Some of the more popular access points have seen major changes such as a popular log dam pool at the Bridge Picnic Ground cleared to the bank and a fast riffle in place of the pool. The pool was always good for a couple of trout when driving up Highway 89. A popular turnout across from the Hat Creek Information kiosk also had major changes, the creek itself was rerouted as a log jam along the bank and an overhanging tree that provided a shady retreat for brook trout was washed out.  The creek now makes a couple of tight bends around a sandy gravel beach where the creek had branched and included  a couple of shallow side channels. For those used to fishing the creek and returning to certain spots changes will be seen throughout.

The creek is running high making it difficult to fish many of the holes and runs with spinners are tough in many places. Even a quarter ounce Panther Martin will skirt above the trout holding in deep pools. Toss salmon eggs and worms under a split shot for the best shot at fish but be prepared to hang up and lose gear as the flows are fast and the lava rocks are unforgiving.

For many, Cassel Forebay which is also refered to Middle Hat Creek in hatchery stocking reports, or Baum Lake,are better area options.  In both, the flow is  moderate  giving fly, bait and lure anglers an equal chance for success.

After giving the Upper Hat Creek a shot this afternoon I ventured to Cassel where I caught and released a quick limit of five brook trout just west of the Post Office tossing a yellow red dot Panther Martin. I also found others fishing the forebay itself catching trout along the dam wall using mini-jigs.

Driving to the nearby powerhouse outlet to Baum Lake I was also able to land a couple of planter sized rainbows before heading home.  Both the Forebay and Baum are stocked heavily and should supply good fishing in the region. Hat should improve for all types of angling when the flows lessen.

Gary Heffley has been a valued contributor to MyOutdoorBuddy for over seven years serving as manager, sales representative and reporter for much of Northern California. He is an avid outdoorsman and loves to fish and write about his adventures. He has long history in the Sporting Goods field and is presently managing the Gift Bar and Camping Department at Sportsman’s Warehouse in Redding.