This site is for fishing folk around Lake Shasta

Send Pics

I was talking with a old friend of mine the other day, and she asked me to send her pictures of me. Now, she is well aware my passion is fishing. Most of the pictures I have are of fish, and not me.

When I brought to hand a sea run German Brown the other day, I was a little miffed I didn’t have my phone with me to take a picture. I often leave the phone in my rig when I intend to wade in the river. I dropped one to drown, just enough to quit working before I could retrieve it from the bottom. I dropped it because I was attempting to take a photo of the half pounder steelhead I just brought to hand. I would have taken an adult fish all the way to the bank, but the half pounders I just bring to hand while remaining in the drift I am working. The little buggers are all cold, slippery, and wiggle a bunch, thus trying to balance the whole thing and snap a pic was far too much for me. Ker plunk goes the phone.

Therefore I have very few pictures of myself to send on to my friend. I fish by myself a lot. My picture taking skills are at the bottom of the curve. Unless I have someone else to snap it, I don’t get one to pass along.

So I am asking for readers to upload any of their favorite pictures they wouldn’t mind other folks looking at. Over at the right side of the massbassin menu is a drop down window to do this with some pretty easy instructions.

My wish for you is to have a great holiday season. If you have some time and, would like to hook into some nice steelhead, the winter run steelies are just beginning to enter the Trinity River here in California. These fish are the largest, and strongest of any run in the Trinity River basin. Way worth the time to stalk. Just drop me a note if you need more information. I will be happy to help if I can.

Mr Hook

Bugs Bugs Bugs !


Sweet !

Sweet !



I had hoped to get some of my own photos of the 2013 hex hatch, but when it began I was so busy casting I forgot all about it! Sorry.

I did find this video on You Tube though. It shows a similar hatch on a different water, but looks much the same except for the volume of the bugs in their final life cycle.

Perfect time for the hatch

Perfect time for the hatch


Sweet 20"

Made the reel sing

This picture is of the first Fall River rainbow I brought to hand during the hex hatch.

We met our guide at the Circle 7 on a shirt sleeve warm summer’s evening shortly after 7:00 while he and a fellow guide were discussing tactical strategies with a foot on the back bumper of a pick-up, and a cold beverage in hand. We just love fishing!

Following a “Best of Luck” send off, we loaded the john boat and headed down river. Although the hex hatch tends to move up the river a little each evening, Cody had been studying the manner of the hatch moving tendencies for a “best guess” where the hot spot would be for this evening. The excitement builds.

My fishing pal describes to Cody what he and I experienced the evening before as we motored past. We went quite a few s-turns beyond the section of water we fished previously.

Cody pulled up in the middle of a straight section between s-turns, and anchored the john boat. He told us we were a couple hundred yards down river from where he wanted to place us during the hatch, and that we could try a couple of nymphing patterns, and deep water techniques while we waited. There were a couple of fish slurping bugs on the top leaving the characteristic rings that get dry fly anglers blood pressure up. We cast some big hex nymphs in their direction for quite  a while and only got one grab. Missed it though.

Bugs were just coming off all over the place as the light diminished from seeing clear to, have to look closer just to see anything clearly. The big hex duns were appearing on the surface to dry their new wings more frequently, and the fish rings went from slurping, to gulping with a splash, then outright jumping high in the air. Really spectacular!

Just before the outright jumping aerial displays began Cody had moved us up to just below the long grasses and low brush on the inside of the turn maybe thirty feet from the bank. He said that from this position we could cover fish feeding near the shore, or out towards the middle of the sluggish moving Fall River and that we should begin casting to rising fish right away. We did of course!

For the next nearly an hour it was nuttin but whoops n hollers, flailing elbows n arms, and the occasional word(s) best left unsaid in polite company. Yep,big fun! I was so busy doing what I was doing, I don’t even remember what my pal was doing. Pretty sure he hooked up a couple of times, but never boated a fish.

When it was too dark to go on, my friend tangled his leader all up, and Cody said pass it back to him. He asked for the light we had brought. It was one of those bazillion candle power jobs. Cody grabbed the trigger and shone the light up above us, and I will tell you what. There were so many bugs flying around that it looked like a heavy snowfall in the foothills. Cody said, “that’s nothing, look at this” and put the light on the river’s surface. The entire river was covered with bugs, bugs, bugs! I mean it was carpeted so as to barely see any water! How a fish could pick our imitation from all the food is beyond me. But they did, and that is what counts for dry fly fishing to be Ketchinnee!

Mr Hook


The hex hatch is On


It is this dark when the bugs come off





Spending the day being guests of the Spinnerfall Lodge, and exploring the broad spring creek waters that are Fall River has left my friend and I pretty pooped out. Sack  time by nine o’clock, and up for a complimentary full breakfast buffet by eight. We weren’t to meet up with our guide, Cody, until around nine the following morning. Perfect!

At the appointed hour we are driving down the broad, graveled drive under the massive country log sign of the Circle 7 Guest Ranch. On both sides of this drive are the cool, lush greens of new growing hay, and some animals a short distance across the fields. At the end of the drive are rambling ranch buildings, surrounding the square of lawn with walkways and a gazebo. There are more rental houses here along the river, a small tackle shop, an access to the river for launching, and a couple of ginornous barns stuffed with their award winning hay.

We use a walkway between two of the rental houses that leads down to a small dock where a bunch of flat bottomed  john boats  are moored. Cody leads us to one on the end, and we get loaded up as Cody sizes up our equipment while courteously probing about our experience levels. He was ready to provide all the gear needed, but we opted for our own stuff.

John boat loaded, up the river we go!

Cody began pointing out fish swimming away from the boat’s shadow almost from the beginning, but when we arrived where my pal and I anchored the previous day, the groups of fish fleeing became much larger. We ooed, and awed, and didjaseethesizeofthatone’ed all the way from there to the stretch of water Cody had in mind for us  to fish. There are so, so many big trout in that water!

We anchored and Cody tied flies and indicators to our lines. The flies were of his own design,  and we did catch some nice fish, but I never did see what they were. I think he was cagey about that, and I didn’t think about it until the following day when my pal and I were discussing what to use. It went something like this; “Did you see what we were using yesterday?” “No, I always passed the line back to him.” They were itty bitty though.” “What the heck were they?””I duno, I didn’t see em.”

Cody  did tell us how he determined what to use by inspecting some of the grasses floating by. He showed us all the little larvae, and nymphs adhering to the grass. He used these indicators for size and color in an artificial. We used his teaching, and managed to boat a couple of nice trout!

Still on the previous day though, we fished the morning and a couple hours into the afternoon where the bite kind of just pooped out. We went back in with agreement to meet back at the Circle 7 a little before seven o’clock.

It  had been a really great day. We caught fish. We learned from our guide’s experience. We had great food. What’s not to like? The only thing is we didn’t get into the hex hatch yet. I will have that for you in a couple of days.

No, don’t look at me that way! I promise, I won’t take months to get it done. So please stay tuned.

Mr Hook

Hex Hatch


This is what we used during the hatch

My fishing pal and I were ready for the legendary Hex Hatch on Fall River. We had been reading up everything we could find on the internet about the hexagenia limbata. This time in late June was perfect and we were ready!

Our arrival at the Spinner Fall Lodge felt just right in the late morning sun shining through some big  trees that separate a big meadow from the lodge. Some of the fellas from the Shasta Trinity Fly Fishers club were just finishing packing to leave. They had booked the first three day segment, and we had the final three days. They told us some fish were caught, but not nearly as many as in years past. They suggested we use one of the guides since we were beginners in this fishery.

We checked in, talked to Cody Waltrip about a guided trip for the following day (it’s best to book him through the Fly Shop), and headed right for the launching ramp. A small detour was necessary though. Since the hex hatch happened right at dark, we would need a spot lamp to navigate back up the river, so we went into Fall River Mills to buy one. Then we went right down to the launch for the beginning of our exploration.

After we got on the water, a few minutes were spent looking at the river near the red barn, and then headed up river where some other boats had gone. We found a couple of nice looking spots to fish, but flailing away at them produced maybe one small take. Oh boy this is going to be tough!

Sitting in the blazing hot afternoon sun on the water in an open boat started us thinking maybe a short nap was in order. Further more the hunger bug was bugging us too, so back to the lodge we went. The hex hatch was still about four hours away after all. We may as well rest up!

A few luxurious minutes of nap time recharged our excitement, so off to the dinning room we went. I didn’t take notes about what we chowed down on, but the chef sent us some really great meals. (I was told there will be an even better chef there in 2013) We made it back to the boat about seven o’clock, and headed down river where the hatch was slated to be. Luckily we followed a couple of other boats that left at the same time. This was a stroke of good fortune, because the distance traveled was a bit more than first thought. On our own we may have stopped short of the hex hatch area, and missed out entirely.

We found a spot to anchor up a few hundred yards down river of the confluence with the Tule River, and once again began flailing away. Our fly selection was about what we perceived the literature to recommend, and what some other angler’s had described, but there were no takes. The fish jumping everywhere around us drove us a little crazy. We were afraid the hex hatch was going to be a bomb.

Adult Hex

Adult Hexagenia Liimbata
permission by

The funny thing is the hex hatch had not even started yet. When people said “right at dark” they were telling the exact truth about it. At our lowest point of excitement, and thinking about heading back to the barn, the hatch started!

We had anchored so our casting was right into the moon light. Luckily that was perfect. The water just exploded with fish, and there were these gigantuous bugs flying around everywhere. We only had a couple of grabs, but boy was that exciting. We couldn’t wait to get back there the following night!

I will continue on with the next day in a post a few days from now. I hope you have found it entertaining.

Mr Hook


Presidents Day on Lake Shasta

The lack of rainfall through out the month of January is presenting an opportunity for anglers to explore much of Lake Shasta with complete opportunity for great spring like success. Turbidity of the water is clearing each day, and the color is greening up. I noticed my downrigger weight is visible on the way up from 24-30 inches. The visibility is getting pretty clear. Some of the bass guys I have spoken with are even experimenting with more colorful bait presentations with success.

During this past week there existed an opportunity to spend a day on the water, and I took it! I blew a fuse hooking up the downrigger and thought, “Oh boy, one of those days?” False starts, unexpected niggling little things for the rest of the day. But everything else was fine. Yay, and I caught fish!

I began my morning where the water was running into the coves of Little Squaw, and Dry Creek using a leach pattern with the fly rod. The screen didn’t show very many fish, but I tried anyway to no avail. I thought maybe some trout would be staging for spawning. I then moved out along the banks tossing a brown plastic worm, and a Berkley Gulp biodegradable minnow and hooked a couple of smallies; one using the Gulp, and one using the worms.

Fish began showing up on the screen at 15-25 feet as I entered deeper water, so I prepared the downrigger for action, and the action didn’t come for a very long time. My ‘go to’ wiggle hoochie just wasn’t working. I began changing lures, and passing through the fish time after time. Finally, the first hook up. A beautiful little rainbow grabbed a Rapala Countdown, but that fish was the only one to be fooled. I just couldn’t find the right combo for the fish in the shallow water.

Although I was told many of the successes from anglers happened from shallow water, I noticed large concentrations of fish being marked from 50-65 feet. The hoochies have done well for fish at this depth, so I went through my favorite three colors white, blue, and purple. The result was one nice spot at 37 feet on the line using the white hoochie.2013-02-07_12-42-14_699

Not enough hoochie love for me, so lure changing I went again. The next strike was on a little chrome and blue Kastmaster. I missed it though, and that was the only strike. I changed to a Blue Fox with the same colors, but larger hook, and boated a 15 inch rainbow. I hooked another similar rainbow in the same water column using a Humdinger.


The long range weather forecast does not show any huge, rain laden storms headed our way, so by Presidents Day this wonderful lake should be a spring angler’s dream. Heck, the air temperatures have been as high as 71 degrees, but has been hovering in the mid-50’s to low-60’s most days. It may be even warmer come Presidents Day in a couple of weeks, so start packing your gear for Lake Shasta so you can be Ketchinnee!

Spinner Fall

Fall River in June

Fall River in June

When I was growing up in the 1960’s I was incredibly lucky to have a father dedicated to teaching his family about outdoor activities like fishing, hunting, hiking, water sports, and the like. Shasta County in northern California was a little known resource to the casual vacationer, considered to near to their metropolitan urban homes to brag about. Far more exotic trips to Alaska, British Columbia, or Florida seemed to be more brag worthy.

My dad knew our area was far more diverse than many of these other “exotic” destinations. Many of the high dollar adventures were known for only one or two featured draws like a certain species of salmonid, big game animal, or saltwater big game fishing. Our northern California resources were enough to whet the appetite of any outdoors’ enthusiast. There was even a spring creek fishery unlike any other. This largest and most famous of spring creeks in California is Fall River.

Before 1971 Fall River was completely private lands with owners giving little or no access to sportsmen. My dad tried and tried to gain an ‘in’ with ranchers to fish this fabulous water to no avail. He even spent an entire winter welding up irrigation pipe for hay ranchers, and they turned him down. They paid him, of course, but would not grant access to the river for an outsider.

In the early 1970’s a notable lawsuit declared Fall River to be navigable if one can get a boat into the water. CalTrout spearheaded this suit, and maintains a launch for small non-gas powered watercraft near the Island Road Bridge. This is the only “public” access on the middle section of Fall River above the confluence with the Tule River.  A current link for what CalTrout is up to right now is

I was out of the area during the ensuing years. I didn’t keep up with local northern California politics unless brought to my notice from my mom or dad, and neither of them mentioned this development. Those water’s were still off limits as far as I knew until a presentation about Fall River at the monthly meeting of Shasta Trinity Fly Fishers..

The club president told us there were two three day trips scheduled for the last two weeks of June, and it was first come first serve at the sign up sheet. I said to myself “Oh yeah! Wish dad could go with me.”, and made a reservation for two. My fishing pal James would go too.

SpinnerFall Lodge

SpinnerFall Lodge

Where We Stayed

Nestled in a huge high mountain meadow is the Spinnerfall Lodge, and would be our base of operations for the net few days. This place was great! As expected, the rooms are decorated northwoods rustic, and like other small motel rooms, but that is where the similarity ended. A huge deck spans the entire length of the main lodge in a couple of tiers, and overlooks a giant lawn that leads right down to the river’s edge featuring a little waterwheel pump, and launch. A beautiful bar overlooks all of this in the main room, where tables are set for diners in big parties, or small and intimate. The food was fantastic, and very reasonable, with breakfast, bag lunch, and dinner everyday. We enjoyed their chef’s specialties very much thank you!

Water Wheel Pup

Water Wheel Pump

I am going to break this trip down into a couple of different posts, so come back to check out the actual fishing part in a few days. In the mean time you may like to check out what a trip like this can mean to you by going to The Fly Shop. They are one of the premier outfitters, and offer their help in a very courteous, knowledgeable manner.

The fishing part of the trip will be in a few days, be sure to come back.  Until next time, I hope you are out Ketchinnee!

Mr Hook


Shasta in January

It’s middle of January as I launch the boat on a crisp, windless, gray day at Centamudi launching ramp near Shasta Dam. There is about 6 inches of hard crusty snow lining the shore that seems to make the day colder than it really is. I have a vision of sparkly ice crystals blowing from my rod guides as I reel in line. I am thinking this must just be too chilly for any serious effort at hooking a fish. But the fishin bug has struck me, and I must answer.

Psych! The above description is one from memory about a outing years ago. This day’s detail goes as follows. Yes it is the middle of January but the day is as bright and sunny as any spring day could be with a temperature in the low 70’s. Can you imagine? The only snow shows as white patches along the higher ridge lines, and the brightly lit visage of Mt Shasta. The trees and bushes along the shore show heavy budding from the unseasonably warm weather of the past week. We can only hope the winter rains come back to fill the lakes, and ensure our northern California lands can stay as green longer into the hot months.

A fellow January angler is just  pulling out to go home as I prepare my boat to launch, and we talked a little about his successes of the day. We also shared fish pix from our phones in a nostalgic way about warmer weather catches. I found out his best lure of the day was a split tail root beer colored grub. His electronics showed fish suspended in the 45-60 foot depth range. He caught all of his fish right there. Slowly working rock outcroppings in that depth range only produced one small spotted bass this day.

I launched the boat and headed for my favorite coves near the Shasta Dam straight away. I noticed hardly any driftwood  on the forebay, and as a matter of fact, there was very little driftwood to be encountered anywhere. This is always a plus in the months that Lake Shasta is filling. Driftwood deposited on the shore from the previous year migrates out onto the water as the lake level rises, and this can make it dangerous for boaters not paying enough attention. Most of the time the little pieces of wood will only go tick, tick against the hull, but sometimes the thunk of a larger piece will sound and the possibility of getting stuck in the prop, or sucked into a jet pump is real. Just keeping vigilant “eyes forward” should prevent this danger to the excursion!

The water on this day was pretty turbid. I gauged the visibility to be about 16 inches by watching my downrigger weight coming up when I trolled. I have found darker colored offerings to show better in these turbid conditions. Black, dark brown, and purple seem to work really well, but not for me on this day.

I spent some of my time fly casting a black leech pattern in places having running water entering the lake to no avail. When the shadows crept into the cove I was reminded of January winter chill. The air temperature plummeted rapidly, and I left following the sun, and began to troll. There were a lot of fish signatures in the depth range stated by the fellow at the launch, and there were quite a few boats trolling in this area, but I didn’t get one hook up. The guys in the other boats I spoke with said my experience was much the same as theirs. No fish boated.

Fish boated or not, it was a beautiful day to try Ketchinnee on Lake Shasta in Mid January.

Mr Hook


Desert Lure

Everyone has their own reasons for liking, or not liking the desert. Enter your happy place and  let imagination take over to discover your own personal desert lure.

Here are some examples for like the desert. The colorful sweeping panorama. The presence of fauna and flora, seemingly so exotic from non-desert geographicals. Maybe the simple scent of dryness.

On the dislike side maybe the lack of moisture at first glance everywhere you look. Too hot seems to be a big one. So little green. You add your own items to these lists.

My best like of the central Oregon high desert was the dryness. Living in the Portland area during the fall, winter, and spring requires your feet to always be wet. You get used to it, and go about your business. However some little niggling thought about getting dry encroaches into your thoughts as spring wanes and summer waxes like the cycle of the moon. Being dry (except when in the river) was my trigger to head over the hill to Maupin and the Deschutes. The local Redside rainbow was a perk after I started hooking them.

Now I am telling you my trigger was being dry, but trying to hook some of the fabled Resides was my desert lure, and the lack of angling success made me focus on the dry angle instead of the catching fish angle.

This photo is with permission from photographer Dylan Rose, and Emerald Water Anglers. This fish looks exactly like my first!

Pretty native

Redside Rainbow

Hooked One!

The section of the Deschutes I was exploring is an “Artificials Only” section of water. Initially I brought my spinning gear, and tried a few lures with no success. I began to just take my fly gear after those first couple of times. What the heck was I supposed to use?

The fly guys I was talking with pretty much all said little bitty flies were the ticket. Heck I had only begun to use nymph patterns, and was far more familiar with dry flies. I couldn’t see the itty bitty things on the water, and had no idea of what the take even looked like on this massive volume of water. I had to find my happy medium.

While examining the fly selection in GI Joes one afternoon, and talking with another shopper about the Deschutes, I saw a crawdad imitation. It was much larger than anything everybody was describing to me but what the heck. I had seen all kinds of crawdads in the river where I had been camping, and knew crawdads were a common food source for most fish. I bought one.

My next trip to Maupin featured the same old swing technique I was familiar with, and the same old results. Fish zero, and angler zero. That evening another angler I was friends with put the bone from his steak in the river right at the shore under some little bankside willow trees. After five minutes, or so, we went over and looked where he had placed the bone. The bone was crawling with crawdads, and fish were dimpling the water only a few feet from shore! I figured now would be a good time to try the crawdad.

My first couple of cast and retrieves featured swarms of smolt pecking at the crawdad imitation. It was too far for me to cast to the seam of faster water from where I was, so I moved upriver a little to present into the area where the smolt were active. A couple of casts here taught me how to make the presentation, and how to duck from casting my first weighted fly! Bap, right in the back of the head. (Dirty word, dirty word)

I can keep going here, but I am remembering this as if it were yesterday instead of 30+ years ago, and this post is getting a little long. So to sum this up, I did learn to cast, swing, and steer a weighted fly. The learning curve for this was pretty easy, and the reward was a voracious strike on the crawdad imitation. I brought to hand my first Deschutes River Redside trout. The way it batted, and stripped line, I thought the fish may have been a whopper. In reality the fish was about 15 inches long, and as pretty a trout as I had ever seen. The moniker Redside was evidenced by the blood red stripe from nose to tail nearly as wide as the fish itself. Spectacular! Yay, I finally had a story to tell about Ketchinnee, and a new Desert Lure.

Mr Hook

2013 California Fishing License


I just went and bought my 2013 California Department of Fish and Wildlife license yesterday. In case you have not seen what is being given as a license yet. Here is a picture of mine. There will be additional documents with report cards, and validation cards. Fills the pouch big time.2013-01-16_15-37-42_523

The fee for a California Sport Fishing license has a base of $45.93. This is the basic license for sport fishing in the state’s open waters. There are two report cards I get every year. The first is for steelhead at $7.05, and Northcoast Salmon fishing report card at $6.22. I also add a second rod validation at $14.04.

To see all the combinations, and fees for California go to

How about that? I must spend nearly $75.00 to go fishing the way I like. Phew! I couldn’t come up with the correct search parameters, but I think my first license in 1967 cost $3.50. What a difference half a century can make.

Every year there are two Free Fishing Days for California, and they are July 6th and September 7th for 2013. These two days every year provide an opportunity for folks to experience the fun of sport fishing on California open waters. There are some stipulations though and more information about this program and rules can be found at

I hope this information was valuable for you, and you can do the same as me Ketchinnee.

Mr Hook

California Elves


This is the new logo for, well you get the picture. I feel the change is appropriate, and would like feed back from you.

Before just setting the stage I would like to mention a few of my reasons for why I feel the appropriateness of this change for the California Elves.

In 1870, think about it as only a few years following the Civil War, California established the Board of Fish Commissioners, and expanded the inclusion of game to the board’s responsibilities in 1878. Obviously there was felt a need to protect from the wholesale slaughter of this state’s enormous abundance of fish and game. The population was growing like crazy. Food sources were needed. Habitat for game, and waters for fish were being compromised daily by not only the farmers and ranchers, but also mining and industrialization of the state in general.

The next name change was in 1909 when the Commission of Fish and Game was established, then again in 1927 as the Division of Fish and Game. In 1951 the Division of Fish and Game was elevated to the Department of Fish and Game, and has remained so until January 1, 2013. It has been over 60 years since the responsibilities of these elves was addressed for their impact on the resources in this huge state. Go here for a nice timeline,

The scope of responsibility for these California Elves has been far more than the moniker Fish and Game denotes. Their mission statement posted in the above link plainly addresses much of what is involved, but falls short of the entirety.

I would like to tell of this small example to illustrate my point

Much of the responsibility for a volunteer fire department along the Trinity River in northern California is responding to vehicle mishaps along highway 299. I was a responding member at the site of a pickup that completely overturned on the road near a little creek that entered the Trinity River a few hundred feet from the accident, and the overturned vehicle spilled all manner of fuel and oil on the road near this creek. Our local warden showed up as we began clean up protocol, and coached us about how to control the mess from further endangering the water. Without his guidance we may have just kitty littered the mess and swept it off the asphalt, but he explained why this was a irresponsible solution, and helped us sweep up the kitty litter for depositing in the hazmat bin at the landfill. We could have unwittingly polluted a whole section of river habitat if not for his guidance, and teaching efforts.

The behavior, and perception of a warden’s responsibility is probably slewed towards the law enforcement side, because where is it you read about other things they do for the public? If anyone is silly enough to defy the rules set by our California Elves, let them experience the law enforcement side.

I am off to get my 2013 fishing license in a little while. The cost to obtain my license is quite daunting. How much of the fee is going to the logo change? And herein lies my misgivings about the whole change over thing. Why is the brunt of the cost placed upon the licensees instead of budgeted from the state. The entire public draws benefit from the endeavors of the department, not only the licensee.

If any readers know enough about the budget line for this change to post thoughts about it, we would appreciate it. For now I am off to purchase said license so I can go be Ketchinnee.

Mr Hook

As an aside, I have had some health issues preventing my blogging. I believe I am back. Stay Tuned!


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