Lower Elevation Still Waters
VALLEY TAIL WATERS
About Putah Creek
Putah Creek is one of the most accessible, winter fisheries in Northern California close to Sacramento and the East Bay. Thousands of bay area and Sacramento area fly fishermen caught their first fish on a fly here. Being that it is located within an hour from much of the Bay Area and slightly less than an hour from Sacramento it is, as can one can imagine, a very popular piece of water.
Putah Creek is a tailwater that flows out of the coast range of Northern California into the Sacramento Valley. One wouldn’t expect to be fishing for cold water fish like Rainbows in a low elevation foot hill environment surrounded by Oak Trees but being that it is a tail water, water temperatures stay cool during the Summer and rarely freeze in the winter. The consistent water temperature means an active year round bug population and active healthy fish who feed and grow while their mountain counterparts are half asleep.
Being that Putah is a tail water, its flows are determined by agricultural needs downstream so late Spring, Summer and early fall flows can be difficult for fly fishermen to fish. Come Autumn, the flows drop from over 500 cfs to as low as 50 to 70 cfs and this is when everyone heads to Putah. About this time the mountain fishing is winding down to so anyone in the North or East bay area or Sacramento who needs a small stream fish fix, can easily get to Putah and back home in time for dinner.
Access to the water is easy since Hwy 128 runs right along Putah between the towns of Winters and Napa California. As you leave the town of Winters and pass by Lake Solano you soon come upon the first of five county operated fishing accesses that have been strategically placed at each freestone section of the creek. This is one of the few trout creeks who’s facilities have been put in place to accommodate the fisherman’s needs.
Food is abundant in the creek and the fish benefit not only from bugs that live there but from food, among them lake dwelling midge larva that wash into the creek from the lake above. Midge and Baetis are the bugs that hatch on Putah during the Winter months but their larva are present year round. Caddis larva are always present too. Stoneflies are not a significant bug on Putah.
When the fish are spawning during the winter, a micro egg pattern Size #16 in orangish yellow can be deadly pattern if fished just downstream from where you spot hens and their suitors. It’s not a good idea to disturb fish on their redds. The basic two fly indicator rig works well and most successful fishermen use long 5X or 6X tippets depending on the water clarity. Generally a two fly rig with a Caddis larva pattern and a Baetis or Midge pattern tied on as a dropper works most of the time. The egg pattern can be substituted for the Caddis larva during spawning.
Updated - 2/11/23
Scroll down for links to information about Lodging,
Maps and up to the minute Stream Flows
Current River Conditions: 69 CFS and clear.
Fishing Report-Poor: No report this week as few fishermen are on the water. The river doesn't fish particularly well at shuch low flows. On the positive side you will probably have it all to yourself.. If you do go, Midge and small mayfly patterns #18 - #22 will work though it is always good to pair with a caddis pupa or a worm. Small Perdigon's in various colors work well too. A bright colored worm pattern can work too, particularly just after a rain storm.
Getting bored poking in and out of boutiques and
tasting rooms in the Napa area?
Why not spend a day fishing for trophy trout with one of our guides at close by Putah Creek. We have guides who are on the
Putah every day no matter what the season. Give us a call (916)719-6253 or email inquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org
or click here and we will set you up.