Saturday, May 16, 2015

Exploring The Big Chico Creek Upper Watershed

Upper Big Chico Creek

Finding new waters to adventure, explore, and fish are some of my favorite aspects about fly fishing. I find myself spending hours on Google maps looking at a body of water I haven't fished yet to strategize access points, gear needed, walking distance, etc. Once I figure out the logistics, I look online for clues on what flies work, what kind of water I'm fishing, and what species I may find there. After doing my homework I set out to explore more of Big Chico Creek.

The fish I wanted to find and catch were brown trout. I have read several articles about brown trout being present in the upper watershed of Big Chico Creek. Brown trout are suppose to be the dominant fish in mountainous zone.

Big Chico Creek at Carpenter Ridge Road

The day began with what I thought was going to be a nice drive down to the creek on Carpenter Ridge Road but instead it turned into an hour hike. The hike wasn't difficult (thank god...) and once I got to the water I was relieved. One thing I noticed immediately was the geography of the creek not being very freestoney; this was a bad sign. Wading about half a mile upstream, I didn't get a single fish despite fishing nice seams and pools. Although there weren't any fish in this stretch, I did find a lot of California newts.

Saw a ton of these guys

After not having much luck, I started to feel discouraged. On the hike back to my car I was contemplating on what to do for the rest of the day. Should I float tube Tiechert or Pine Creek? Should I fish Horseshoe or go back to the Sac for shad? Once I got back to the car it was decided, "What the hell... I might as well try the creek further upstream."

Oh The Places You'll See

The drive up HWY 32 was short and once I set foot into the water I had a good feeling about this area. The water was more freestone but very small only about 4 - 6ft wide. This was the "don't try back casting or you'll hang up on everything" type of small stream.

First of the Day

After finding a decent riffle, I threw my dry into a seam and got my first rise of the day. Bingo! This was the place to be. My adventure to find a BCC brown trout continued as I waded about a mile upstream catching a few decent-sized fish along the way. Surrounded by tall green pines and clear cool water, it's almost hard to believe that this is the same Big Chico Creek that runs through Chico.

And yes the studies and articles are true...

Big Chico Creek Brown


  1. Did you make it to Bear Lake? Looks like there might be a good waterfall there.

    1. From what I've gathered I believe Bear Lake is above Higgin's Hole Falls? The area I fished in this post is closer to Butte Meadows which quite a bit further up than than Bear Lake.