Copyright 2013 James Marsh
Fly Fishing The Pit River California
The Pit River has several distinctly different sections.
The ones that provide the best trout fishing and the
sections we are focusing on are the ones below Lake
Britton. There are about thirty miles of river that flows
through a canyon below the Reservoir. Included in this
area are several dams and powerhouses each of which
create a small lake or reservoir and a tailwater.

The river is very difficult to negotiate in most areas due
to the tight canyon, large boulders and pocket water that
is as slick as it can get. That is due to the river's high PH
but the high PH is what provides the large, diverse
aquatic insect population accounting for it large trout.

Most anglers consider the very best fishing to be in the
uppermost section below Lake Britton. It flows down to
Pit #3 Powerhouse. It isn't quite as difficult as the other
sections. There are two more similar areas above the Pit
#4 and Pit #5 Powerhouses.

Some areas can be reached from the road, some areas
you must hike along the stream to reach and some have
thick brush obstructions along the banks. The Pitt
Canyon Road parallels the river most of the distance but
it is very difficult to get down to the water in many areas.

There are two more Pits, #6 and #7, but they are not
fished very much. The biggest problem is wading the
slick rocks. Since the PH is high, algae is very prevalent
and the bottom is very slick.

The water flows very steady from each of the Dams and
stays at a fairly stable temperature. Fly fishing the Pit
River depend greatly on the discharges. Since the flows
are totally controlled by dams and power house, the
stream remains in good shape for fly fishing during the

The spring runoff can affect the fishing but other than
that, it provides great pocket water fishing throughout
most of the year. During the winter months of February
through the first of April March Browns, Little Black
caddisflies, and big stoneflies hatch. Some of the best
dry fly fishing takes place in early Spring. Huge hatches
of blue-winged olives can occur. May and June can
bring about even better fishing conditions. The largest
hatches will be stoneflies. The Giant Salmonflies,
Golden Stoneflies, and Yellow Sallies are the most
important ones.

Summertime fishing is good on the Pit. Most of the
hatches will consist of caddisflies. Many anglers ignore
the Pit during the summer and that can be a mistake.

Early Fall brings on a new round of aquatic insects with
October Caddis being the highlight. Slate Drake mayflies
and a new round of blue-winged olives make up the
majority of the hatches.

The Pit continues to provide good fly fishing
opportunities during the cold months of December and
January. If you can stand the daily air temperatures, you
can catch trout all winter long because the water
temperatures are from bottom discharges of the
reservoirs. Trout can be taken on nymphs all winter long
and at times various species of Blue-winged olives will

Fly fishing the Pit River below Lake Britton dam provides
the most consistent catch rate of any stream in northern
California. Out of the thirty miles of water, ninety percent
of it will go un-fished for many days of the year.  
Sections of the river are very easy to access from a
road running right a long the water and other parts of
the river requires a tough hike to reach.

The Pit River if full of large, strong fighting rainbow trout.
The average size rainbow is about twelve inches long
but they are regularily taken up to sixteen inches. There
are a few trophies taken each year, or rainbows
measuring up to twenty inches.

Be sure you take a wading staff. Although the stream is
tough to wade, it can be safely done provided you pay
attention to where you take the next step.
Type of Stream
Series of Tailwaters

Rainbow Trout
Brown Trout

Small to Medium

Northern California

Nearest Towns

Last Sat. April through Nov.

Fairly accessible but difficult

Non-Resident License
State of California

National Weather Service Link

Fly Fishing Gear and Trout Flies

Stream Flow Data
Pit River California
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Photo Courtesy of David Knapp Photography
Options For Selecting Flies:
1. Email us with the dates you will be
fishing this stream and we will send
you a list of our fly suggestions. Please
allow up to 24 hours for a response.

2. Call us 800-594-4726 and we will
help you decide which flies you need.

3. Call or email us with a budget for
flies and we will select them and get
them to you in time for your trip.

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Copyright 2013 James Marsh