California’s Smith River and its tributary streams support healthy populations of coastal cutthroat and rainbows. In the upper reaches of the Smith River watershed, you can find solitude, natural beauty and native trout willing to take the fly.


Big Redwoods and Small Cutthroat

Driving north on Highway 101, the outside temperature goes from the low 70s to the mid 90s by the time I reach northern California’s Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. No wind, endless blue sky and bright sun—the kind of summer day locals shirtlessly embrace along California’s fog belt. I pass by the beach outside Crescent City packed with surfers and sightseers. I have a much smaller piece of cold water in mind. This particular water runs down a remote ravine in the Smith River watershed.  

Most people probably drive right by the creek without a second thought. Most anglers probably think it’s too shallow and holds no fish. And there’s the thick, line-tangling vines and alders hugging the stream intimidating the rest. But for me, this kind of unremarkable small water never pressures me to hurry. No delicate long casts required. No mastery of aquatic insects needed. And, best of all, no cell phone necessary… 

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