Thirty-five miles of outstanding trout water, easily accessible from Interstate 5 and the railroad grade that follow the river. Railroads follow the river. So it is with the 35-mile stretch of the Upper Sacramento between Lakehead and Cantara. Here, the Upper Sac tumbles through a canyon and down a boulder strewn course, ever widening and smoothing into riffles and runs as it gathers strength from numerous creeks: Soda, Castle, Flume, Shotgun, Slate, and Dog. The Union Pacific’s main north-south line runs along the river’s course as does Interstate 5, yet the pounding of train and truck traffic is muted by aspens, pine, and spruce along the river’s course. Before 1991, angling here, whether with fly, spinner, or bait, for rainbows and browns was among the finest in the West. But a derailment at Cantara Loop just above Dunsmuir pitched a tank car loaded with 13,000 gallons of the pesticide metam-sodium into the river. Leaking chemicals poisoned the stream, killing a million fish and virtually all other aquatic life. There were doubts that the river would ever return to its former prominence. Yet, California Game and Fish officials decided to eschew heavy stocking, preferring that the river heal itself. And it has. By 1995 the population of trout, largely rainbows that have migrated up from Lake Shasta below Lakehead, reached more than 4,000 per mile, where it seems to have plateaued. Species: Rainbow. Angling methods: spin, bait, and fly-fishing.
© John Ross/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.