California Fly Fishing 2 min read

DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Red Lake Creek in California

Ken Sperry

Posted by Ken Sperry

June 7, 2020

Upper Red Creek in Tolyabe National Forest in California

The Red Lake Creek is a small fishery in California that is known locally for its numerous beaver dams and feisty trout. At this Creek, you’ll find brook and brown trout that love eating mayflies and caddisflies. 

If you’re an angler that loves to stray off the beaten path, you’ll enjoy exploring this hidden treasure of a fishery.

About Red Lake Creek

The Red Lake Creek is a stream in Alpine County, California, with an elevation of 7126 feet. The Creek is a four mile long tributary of West Fork Carson River. It is located near Hawkins Creek, about 14.1 miles from South Lake Tahoe. The most common fish you will see are wild brook and rainbow trout. The stream is not stocked.

Red Lake Creek is a classic alpine meadow stream complete with undercut banks and spooky wild trout. You’ll need to approach with stealth and maintain a low profile to be successful here.

The stream is in close proximity to other popular fisheries in the area, including the West Carson River and the East Carson River.

Red Lake Creek Map and Fishing Access Sites

map of fishing access spot on Red Creek Lake in California

Get Directions to the Fishing Access Points shown above with the DIY Fly Fishing Map

Best Places to Fish Red Lake Creek

Red Lake Creek is accessible from the Highway 88 bridge access and Blue Lakes Road. As with most fisheries, the fishing gets better with the further you get from the road.

Best Time to Fish Red Lake Creek

The season for Red Lake Creek is standard California trout season. The creek is generally fishable most of the season as the flow is controlled by Red Lake Dam. In low water years, the creek can get a little thin in the fall. Summer is typical the best time to visit.

Fly Box – What You’ll Need

The trout are not particularly picky at this fishery, and enjoy eating mayflies, caddisflies and terrestrials.

Here is list of general fly pattern recommendations for Red Lake Creek:

  • Blue Winged Olive (#16-20)
  • Elk Hair Caddis (#12-14)
  • Parachute Addams (#14-16)
  • Yellow Quill (#12-16)
  • Pheasant Tail Nymph (#16-18)
  • Hare’s Ear Nymph (#14-16)
  • Ants, beetles, grasshopper patterns (#10-16)

Gear Recommendations

A 9-foot 3-wt fly rod with floating line is perfect for fishing dry flies and small nymphs on Red Lake Creek Creek. A tapered 9-foot leader, with tippet size 3X to 5X to match the flies you are throwing, is pretty standard.

Red Lake Creek Fishing Report

Area fly shops, guides and websites that can provide a Red Lake Creek fly fishing report are listed below:

  • Northern California Fly Fishing Report

Fishing Regulations

The state of California requires that all people who are 16 years of age and older have a valid fishing license. There are resident and non-resident sport fishing licenses available. You can purchase a one-year, 10-day, two-day, or one-day license. Some areas also require a permit. You can purchase the license and learn about the most current regulations through the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Trip Planning Tips

The nearest airport to Red Lake Creek is the Alpine County Airport. You can also travel to Reno Tahoe International Airport, which is about two hours away from the Creek. You could travel to any major or municipal airport in Eastern California and arrive at your destination after a couple hours of scenic driving. 

Alpine County is famous for its beautiful campgrounds. Turtle Rock Park Campground is open seasonally, and offers many outdoor activities, including basketball and tennis. Silver Creek Campground is another nearby option, and is situated underneath shady firs and pines.

The Red Lake Creek is a delightful, hidden getaway for any angler. You can spend hours catching small wild trout, or just stop by on your way to the numerous other fisheries in the area. 

Looking for more places to fish? Check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing California

Feature image by UC Davis