North of Redding and southeast of Mount Shasta, the McCloud River is filled with big rainbow trout and imported brown trout. This is a very scenic freestone river canyon surrounded by forest. Its one of Californias top trout fisheries and the rainbow trout average 14 inches while the brown trout average 16" (up to 36" in the Fall). If you are looking for big fish, this is the place in California.
There are two main river sections: the Upper and the Lower. The upper section is above Lake McCloud and the lower section is below Lake McCloud. Many serious fly fishermen prefer the lower river sections which are less crowd with people but the fish are fatter. The lower is a steep canyon with lush vegetation. There are many long deep pools for the trout. Since the water comes from the dam release, the water temperature is pretty consistent for a long season. There are trails that follow much of the river. The best and most isolated stretch is from Ash Camp to Ah Di Na Camp. To reach the lower from McCloud, head south on Southern Avenue (aka Squaw Valley Road) for 8 mies to the McCloud Reservoir. Turn right for 2 miles and follow sign for Ah-Di-Na Camp. Its about an hour drive from McCloud.
The upper section is more crowded and the fish tend to be less than 10 inches long. This section is accessed by road from the town of McCloud. Head east from McCloud on SR89 for 6 miles to the McCloud River Loop Road (aka Cattle Camp Road) on the right. This road parallels 5.5 miles of river.
Note: there are a lot of rattlesnakes and mountain lions along this river. Seriously, you have got to be really careful and watch what you are doing here.
Overall, McCloud River is the 9th most popular fly fishing river of all 17 fly fishing spots in California.