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McCloud Reservoir offers lots of action

Article and photos by Scott Caldwell
08/23/15 -- First time McCloud reservoir fisherman Bryan Ischo and his 7 year old son Graham had a fantastic Friday (August 21). We all arrived at the McCloud just shy of 6 a.m. and were promptly greeted by two bald Eagles fishing and feasting on the many happy jumping trout. Conner and I quickly launched the 21-foot Willie Raptor into the reservoir. Getting an early start at McCloud is not often necessary but it is sure nice being the first boat on the water as the sun rises.

 Bryan Ischo and his son Graham aboard small fishing boat, each holding fishing pole with the young boy also holding up his fish, photo by Scott Caldwell
There were two father and son teams aboard on Friday. Bryan Ischo and his son Graham along with me and my son Conner.

Trolling slowly away from the dock, and I do mean slowly (.5 to 1.5mph), we put out the first set 6-pound ultra-light rods, one of which was loaded up with a Sep's dodger and grub dipped in Pro-Cure shrimp/krill oil, and the other with a Sep's dodger and a threaded worm trailer also dipped in the shrimp/krill oil. I like this particular oil because it puts out one heck of scent trail and you can see it working in the clear McCloud water.

The next two rods Conner and I put out had Yakima bait company's Maglip 3.0 on them. Those offerings were put on a downrigger and dropped down between 25 and 40 feet. Of course, we were not able to get all four rods out before young Graham had his first fish of the day a fat 1 pound McCloud Rainbow Trout.

7-year old Graham Ischo reeling in his easy catch on McCloud Reservoir, photo by Scott Caldwell
7-year old Graham Ischo quickly learned just how exciting it can be to fish for McCloud Reservoir’s trout.

Many of the trout we caught and released were in the 3/4 to 2-pound class. These fish have a lot of spunk jumping like steelhead and putting up a great battle on ultra-light gear. McCloud Reservoir offers three species of trout (brook, brown, and rainbow) and according to my son Conner, the McCloud brown is by far and away the best eating trout around. Within the first 1/2 mile Bryan and Graham had caught and released six trout, two browns and four rainbows. All 4 set ups produced trout.

Graham Ischo and this trout were ready for their close-up on McCloud Reservoir. photo by Scott Caldwell
Graham Ischo and this trout were ready for their close-up on McCloud Reservoir.

We often catch brown trout on the downrigger in that 20 to 40 foot depth range. McCloud Reservoir is an extremely steep sided and deep channel body of water. The reservoir from the dock out to the dam is 100 to 200 feet deep and it provides plenty of structure for ambush and escape opportunities. Trolling slow is an extremely effective method often providing constant action all day. It is not uncommon to catch and release 20 to 50 trout in a day.

Graham and Conner posed for this shot with Bryan and Graham’s limit of trout, which were headed for the BBQ. Photo by Scott Caldwell
Graham and Conner posed for this shot with Bryan and Graham’s limit of trout, which were headed for the BBQ.

One can fish McCloud using almost any method from bait to fly fishing depending on the time of year and time of day, but it is best fished from a boat or personal water craft. The rocky, steep, stumpy terrain of McCloud makes for extremely difficult access for those who want to fish from the bank.

We trolled most of the morning catching and releasing the better part of 30 trout. Bryan and Graham took a limit of trout (3 browns, 1 brook, and 1 rainbow) to BBQ for lunch at Lake Siskiyou where they were camping.

Lake Siskiyou is another fantastic fishery that offers outstanding camping opportunities and other amenities. McCloud reservoir is a year round fishery as long as snow does not build up cutting off access. I have openings if you would like to book a trip and can be reached by phone 530-905-0758 or email

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