By: Chris Shaffer
Hat Creek, Upper Sacramento River, McCloud River, Pit River, Fall River and many other systems in the mountains above Redding get lots of publicity, and for a good reason. They are heavily stocked, well promoted by fly shops and frequently show up in fishing reports, on hashtags and Facebook posts. Meanwhile, there are dozens of other systems in the area that fly under the radar, yet are still worth fishing.
Near the top of that list is Burney Creek. Many campers, anglers and tourists think of Burney Falls when Burney Creek is mentioned. Meanwhile, Burney Creek offers brook and rainbow trout angling that rivals most of the other creeks and rivers in Lassen, Modoc, Shasta and Siskiyou County. The creek is stocked as often as well know waters like Hat Creek, but receives much less pressure. Burney Creek is an excellent place for beginners and hardcore anglers to fish.
I first fished Burney with Steve Vaughn of the former Vaughn’s Sporting Goods more than 15 years ago. Vaughn knew the creek as well as the California Fish & Game employees who stocked it. Vaughn showed me every inch of the creek back then when I was writing The Definitive Guide to Fishing Northern California. The creek hasn’t lost a beat and continues to fish well weekly in spring and early summer when flows warrant stocking. We found mostly 10-12 inch trout, but some rainbows and browns up to three pounds.
Upper Burney Creek is fished more by locals. It’s open to the public, but a myriad of unsigned logging roads keeps out-of-towners from finding the best spots. If you don’t know exactly where to drive you are going getting lost. Meanwhile, those that know the way find excellent trout fishing near the pump house on down to the bridge over Burney Creek.
Keep in mind this water is super clear. Anything heaiver than four-pound test and a size 10 single salmon egg hook is too big. I’d recommend using a fluorocarbon leader. Peach Garlic Fire Bait rolled into a Fire Worm shape was the biggest producer for us with Orange Deluxe and Silver Label picking up the slack once they became conditioned to the Fire Bait.
Middle Burney Creek is hammered by locals and out of towners. The creek is stocked in town at most of the bridge crossings. It’s best to fish these spots early and late in the day. Otherwise, you’ll have to contend with swimmers, too. Once they enter the water the bite expires. In town there’s mostly slow moving water. This means trout can be found in the deeper holes and runs, and in the shade beneath overhanging trees. The water is clear here, too. Therefore light line is best. We caught our trout on Garlic Salmon Egg Fire Bait, Silver Label and Red Fire Balls.