Fishing the Pit River: A Comprehensive Guide to Angling in Northern California

Pit River, winding its way through the breathtaking landscapes of Lassen and Modoc Counties in Northern California, is a haven for fishing enthusiasts craving excitement and the thrill of reeling in impressive catches. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a newcomer to the sport, the Pit River promises an unforgettable adventure filled with opportunities to hook various fish species and immerse yourself in the beauty of nature.

How To Read Fish Plant Graphs

To interpret fish plant graphs effectively, consider the following key elements:

  1. Blue Vertical Bars and Numbers:
    • Representation: The blue vertical bars on the graph represent individual fish plants.
    • Weight Measurement: The associated numbers indicate the total weight of the plants in pounds (lbs.) that occurred during a specific week.
    • Significance: Monitoring these bars helps identify weeks with higher planting activity, aiding anglers in selecting optimal times for fishing near recent plantings.
  2. Orange Trend Line:
    • Purpose: The orange trend line represents the moving average of all fish plant activities at the specified location.
    • Indicator of Activity: A rising trend line suggests a consistent increase in planting activity over the designated period. This indicates the potential for more catch opportunities and signifies a growing fish population over the weeks.
  3. Interpreting the Moving Average:
    • Upward Trend: A rising moving average implies an upward trajectory in planting activity, indicating an increasing number of fish being introduced into the area. This suggests a positive outlook for anglers, as it implies a larger and potentially more accessible fish population.
    • Downward Trend (Not Specified): The description does not provide information on the interpretation of a decreasing trend in the moving average. It might be beneficial to include information on what a decreasing trend could signify in terms of fishing prospects.
  4. No Data Present:
    • Possible Explanations: If no data is visible on the graph, it may indicate that the location had no fish plants in the last three months. Alternatively, the absence of data could be due to non-disclosure of fish plants for that location.
    • Natural Population: Some fishing areas in California rely on the natural growth of fish populations, and graphs may not show plants if this is the case.
  5. Graph Disclaimer:
    • Data Source: The graphs reflect a combination of publicly disclosed data and estimates. Some locations may disclose fish plants without specifying exact amounts.
    • Not Universal: Not all fishing areas have fish plants, and the natural growth of fish populations plays a significant role in many California fishing locations.

Understanding these elements will empower anglers to make informed decisions about when and where to fish based on historical fish plant data.

Note: If no data is present in the graph above, this location may not have had any plants the last 3 months, or may not have publicly disclosed plants. Graphs reflect both publicly disclosed data and estimates, as some locations disclose plants, but not exact amount.

Map & Fishing Location

Dive into the diverse ecosystem of the Pit River, where you’ll encounter a plethora of fish species eagerly awaiting your bait. Rainbow trout, abundant in the upper sections below Lake Britton, offer an exhilarating challenge with sizes ranging from a respectable 12 inches to an impressive 20 inches. Venture to the lower stretches to discover the majestic brown trout, some reaching an astonishing 30 inches in length. And don’t overlook the thrill of summer fishing for kokanee salmon in Lake Britton and the upper river, or the excitement of landing bass, catfish, and crappie in the slower sections.

Seek wisdom from local anglers who have navigated the twists and turns of the Pit River. In the upper reaches below Lake Britton, where fly fishing reigns supreme, prepare for formidable currents and demanding wading conditions. Explore the middle sections for a mix of fly and spin fishing opportunities with convenient access and diverse aquatic life. And in the lower stretches, gear up for spin fishing excursions targeting larger browns and warmwater species, where boat fishing often proves advantageous.

As you embark on your Pit River expedition, keep a keen eye on seasonal nuances, water flow patterns, access points, and fishing regulations. Spring and early summer beckon with prime fly fishing conditions, while autumn heralds the arrival of spawning salmon and kokanee. Be mindful of the river’s powerful currents and always verify current conditions before setting out. Plan your route meticulously, considering the accessibility of different sections and any necessary permits or licenses required.

Unlock the potential of specific Pit River hotspots, each offering its own allure and challenges. Whether trolling for kokanee salmon in the summer at Lake Britton, casting a line at the scenic Big Bend, or testing your skills at the Powerhouse Pool below Pit 3 Dam, there’s no shortage of remarkable fishing destinations to explore. And for the intrepid angler seeking a truly memorable experience, venture to Butt Creek or Pit River Falls for a chance to hook trophy-sized trout amidst breathtaking scenery.

Armed with knowledge gleaned from local insights, comprehensive guides, and reputable resources, you’re ready to embark on a fishing odyssey along the storied waters of the Pit River. Equip yourself with the right gear, pack your enthusiasm, and set forth with confidence, knowing that each cast brings the possibility of an unforgettable catch.

Fish Species Abound:

The Pit River is home to a variety of fish species, making it an enticing destination for anglers with diverse preferences. Among the notable catches are:

  1. Rainbow Trout: Abundant throughout the river, especially in the upper sections below Lake Britton. These rainbows average between 12-16 inches, with some specimens exceeding an impressive 20 inches.
  2. Brown Trout: Primarily found in the lower sections of the Pit River, brown trout in these waters can reach remarkable sizes, with some exceeding 30 inches.
  3. Kokanee Salmon: Thriving in Lake Britton and the upper Pit River, these landlocked salmon provide exciting summertime fishing opportunities. They typically average between 12-14 inches.
  4. Warmwater Fish: In the larger reservoirs and slower sections of the river, anglers may encounter bass, catfish, and crappie, adding a touch of variety to their fishing experience.

Insights from Locals:

Local knowledge can be invaluable when exploring the Pit River for the first time. Here are some insights from seasoned anglers:

  • Upper Pit River (below Lake Britton): Considered the premier section for fly fishing, this area boasts clear water and abundant wild rainbows. However, be prepared for strong currents and challenging wading conditions.
  • Middle Pit River: Offering a mix of fly and spin fishing opportunities, this section provides good access and diverse aquatic life.
  • Lower Pit River: Primarily suited for spin fishing for larger browns and warmwater species. Access may be limited, and boat fishing is often preferred.

Unique Things to Pay Attention to:

As you embark on your Pit River angling adventure, consider the following factors for a successful experience:

  • Seasonal Variations: Water levels and fish behavior fluctuate throughout the year. Spring and early summer offer the best fly fishing opportunities, while fall brings spawning runs of salmon and kokanee.
  • Water Flow: The Pit River is a powerful and unpredictable river. Always check current conditions before heading out and be prepared for swift currents.
  • Access: Some sections of the river may be challenging to reach and require hiking or four-wheel drive vehicles. Research access points and plan your trip accordingly.
  • Regulations: Fishing regulations vary depending on the specific location. Ensure you have a valid California fishing license and consult local regulations before casting a line.

Specific Locations Worth Exploring:

  • Lake Britton: Excellent for trolling for kokanee salmon in the summer and spin fishing for rainbow trout throughout the year.
  • Big Bend: A scenic stretch of river with good access and opportunities for both fly and spin fishing.
  • Powerhouse Pool: A popular spot for fly fishing, located below Pit 3 Dam.
  • Butt Creek: A tributary known for its large rainbow trout. Access may be limited, but the rewards can be great.
  • Pit River Falls: A scenic waterfall with a small population of trophy brown trout. Access is difficult, but the experience is worth it for adventurous anglers.

Additional Resources for a Successful Trip:

  • The Fly Shop: Offers guided fishing trips and equipment rentals.
  • Modoc National Forest: Provides information about fishing regulations and access points.
  • DIY Guide to Fly Fishing the Pit River: A comprehensive online guide with detailed information about the river and fishing techniques.

Check out our Gearlist for the gear we for trips like this

Our Gearlist account lists all of the gear we use. Discover our top picks, where to snag them, and stay informed with our regular updates.

Pit River, a testament to the awe-inspiring beauty and abundant bounty of Northern California’s wilderness, offers anglers an unrivaled fishing experience filled with excitement, challenge, and the possibility of unforgettable encounters with nature. As our angling journey along the Pit River draws to a close, it’s time to reflect on the memories made, the lessons learned, and the enduring allure of this legendary waterway.

In the wake of our angling adventures on the Pit River, one thing remains abundantly clear: the sheer diversity and richness of its ecosystem never cease to captivate and inspire. From the pristine waters of Lake Britton to the rugged canyons and cascading waterfalls, every stretch of the Pit River tells a story of resilience and vitality. Each fish species, from the elusive brown trout to the spirited rainbow trout, contributes to the tapestry of life that thrives within its currents.

As we bid adieu to the Pit River and its myriad wonders, we carry with us a deep appreciation for the invaluable insights shared by local anglers and the wealth of knowledge gleaned from our own experiences on the water. Their wisdom has served as a guiding light, illuminating the path to successful angling and fostering a deeper connection to the natural world.

Our angling odyssey along the Pit River has been a journey of discovery, both in terms of the fish we’ve encountered and the landscapes we’ve traversed. From the tranquil shores of Lake Britton to the tumultuous rapids of the lower stretches, each destination has left an indelible mark on our hearts and minds, fueling our passion for exploration and adventure.

As we reflect on the experiences shared and the friendships forged during our time on the Pit River, we’re reminded of the profound impact that nature has on our lives. In the midst of bustling modernity, the tranquil beauty of the river serves as a sanctuary, offering solace, inspiration, and a renewed sense of wonder.

In conclusion, our journey along the Pit River has been nothing short of extraordinary, a testament to the enduring allure of the great outdoors and the timeless appeal of angling. As we bid farewell to this legendary waterway, we carry with us the memories of countless casts, the thrill of hard-fought battles with trophy fish, and the profound sense of connection to something greater than ourselves.

Until we meet again, may the spirit of the Pit River continue to beckon us forth, urging us to explore, to discover, and to revel in the wonders of nature. Happy fishing, and may your adventures always lead you back to the banks of this storied river.