When it comes to Yellow Creek, California, most anglers can agree that the stream has seen better days. Seasoned fishermen lament that 50 years ago, you could easily catch large brown trout.
Unfortunately, things change.
Still, there are many reasons to visit Yellow Creek. Access is very easy, and the surrounding scenery is breathtaking. Yellow Creek Campground is famous for its beauty and serenity.
You’ll need to be very stealthy to catch the trout of Yellow Creek, so it is a great place to test your skills as a ninja angler.
Yellow Creek might not be the most popular fly fishing destination, but if you are careful, and just a little bit lucky, you’ll have success snagging trout.
Fly Fishing in Yellow Creek
Yellow Creek (Plumas County) originates in the vicinity of Eagle Rocks near the intersection of Tehama, Butte, and Plumas Counties to the west of Lake Almanor. Yellow Creek flows east into Humbug Valley and then heads in a southerly direction to the confluence with the North Fork Feather River and is a west slope draining Sierra Nevada stream.
Technically part of the Northern Sierra Nevada, Yellow Creek flows through an area that transitions between the Cascades and the the Sierra ecological zone. Characteristic of this area is geology that reflects significant volcanic activity and the streambed consists of lava in varying stages of decomposition.
As such, Yellow Creek has characteristics of a classic spring creek in the upper reaches as it flows through meadows and is surrounded by towering pine trees.
Yellow Creek Wild and Heritage Trout Water, Plumas County, California - CA Dept Fish & Wildlife
Fifteen miles of Yellow Creek is designated by the California Fish and Game Commission as a Wild Trout Water from Big Springs downstream to the confluence with the North Fork Feather River and supports wild populations of coastal rainbow trout, brown trout, and brook trout.
As the stream flows through Humbug Valley the water is clear and slow moving, with aquatic vegetation at its bottom. It is difficult to sneak up on the trout in Yellow Creek. The tall grass and thick bushes that line the bank provide plenty of shade and coverage for the creek’s fish, giving them ample hiding spaces. You will most likely see brown, brook, and rainbow trout.
You should attempt to blend in with the grass as you quietly stalk the fish you see. Try fishing on your knees. You’ll have to be very careful not to spook the trout, but if you’re careful, you’ll be rewarded.
Yellow Creek Map and Fishing Access Sites
Best Places to Fish Yellow Creek
One of the best places to fish Yellow Creek is downstream of the campground.
Yellow Creek is a very easy stream to access. Take the road to Yellow Creek Campground, off of Highway 89. Follow Humbug Road for about .6 miles to get to the intersection. From there, you can follow the signs for Humbug Valley.
After 1.2 miles of scenic driving, you need to take the right fork to Longville. Take this road for 5.4 miles and then turn left at the intersection. You will pass Soda Springs Historic Site.
About .8 miles past the site, there will be another fork in the road. Take the right road and you will arrive at the campground. Yellow Creek Campground is open from late May to early September.
Best Time to Fish Yellow Creek
Fishing on Yellow Creek kicks into gear in the spring when a variety of mayfly hatches come off. Blue-winged Olives kick of the party in April - May, followed by a decent Green Drake hatch in June. Pale Morning Duns come off in June - July.
Terrestrials including hoppers ants are a good option all summer in the meadows of Yellow Creek.
A variety of caddis, including micro-caddis, are a staple July through September. Little Yellow Stoneflies finish out the season in September and October.
Midges are present year round and are a good option for tricking some of the more wary trout.
Fly Box - What You'll Need
Here is list of general fly pattern recommendations for Yellow Creek:
- Blue Winged Olives
- Western Green Drake
- Elk Hair Caddis
- Little Black Caddis
- Little Sister Caddis
- Little Yellow Sallies
Ventures Fly Co. offers a great selection of dry flies, nymphs and streamers that will catch fish just about anywhere. Set includes 40 high quality, hand-tied flies (see list below) and waterproof fly box.
- Adams Dry Fly
- Elk Hair Caddis
- Blue Wing Olive
- Royal Wulff
- Griffith's Gnat White
- Stimulator, Organge
- Chernobyl Ant
- Rubber Leg Nymph, Brown
- BH Pheasant Tail Nymph
- BH Prince Nymph
- BH Hare's Ear Nymph
- Barr's Emerger Nymph
- Zebra Midge Nymph, Black
- Wooly Bugger, Black (Size #8x2)
- Wooly Bugger, Olive (Size #8x2)
A 9-foot 4-wt fly rod with floating line is perfect for fishing dry flies and small nymphs on Yellow Creek. A tapered 9-foot leader, with tippet size 3X to 5X to match the flies you are throwing, is pretty standard.
Yellow Creek Fishing Report
I'm not aware of an area fly shops or guides that current publish a Yellow Creek fly fishing report. The CDFW published a fisheries and habitat report a few years ago that has some useful information (link below).
There are special fishing regulations for the stream between Big Springs to the marker at the end of Humbug Meadow. The minimum trout size permitted is 10 inches. Only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used. The bag limit is two trout.
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 Yellow Creek, California is Redding Municipal Airport. You can arrive at your destination after a couple hours of scenic driving.
While anglers might complain that the Creek has gone downhill, Yellow Creek Campground is still beloved by its visitors. The campground is well-maintained and run by a friendly staff. Additionally, there are other attractions in the area that any wildlife lover would want to check out.
The campground offers close proximity to Butt Valley Reservoir, where you can enjoy boating and fishing, and Lake Almanor, where you can jet ski and waterski to your heart’s content. If you are going to visit the Creek, you will definitely want to stay at Yellow Creek Campground.
Catching a trout at Yellow Creek? Now, there’s something to brag about.
Looking for more places to fish? Check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing California