McCloud River Redband Trout


spotted fish in shallow water
Trout Creek.
small, yellowish fish with black spots and reddish lateral stripe
Moosehead Creek.
  • Bright brick-red lateral band, which tends to be darker and more distinct than other redband forms in California.
  • Distinct white tip on the fins; sometimes yellow or orange.
  • Operculum, or cheek, a rosy red.
  • Adult fish often retain parr marks.
  • Black spots tend to be larger, rounder, and more prevalent above the lateral line compared to irregularly-shaped spots on coastal rainbow trout that are profuse down towards the belly.


river with waterfall in forested mountains
Middle Falls on the McCloud River.
  • Native to the upper McCloud River, a tributary of the Sacramento River (Shasta and Siskiyou counties).
  • It is believed redband trout were historically the only native fish species found in the McCloud River and tributaries above Middle Falls.
  • Non-native rainbow, brown, and brook trouts were introduced into the upper McCloud River as early as the late 1800's. Redband trout can interbreed with rainbow trout, creating hybridized offspring that may not be as well adapted to the arid environment in which they evolved.
  • Today, pure McCloud River redband trout are mostly found in isolated headwater tributaries where non-native trout were not introduced.
  • While McCloud River redband trout can be captured in the main-stem, headwater tributaries in the upper watershed provide the best opportunity to catch ones that exhibit the distinct bright coloration of their ancestral lineage. 
Map of McCloud River redband trout historic watersheds


  • McCloud River redband trout exist in small stream habitats and populations with the highest genetic integrity are small and isolated from one another.
  • Anglers should exercise caution and consider employing catch and release techniques with barbless hooks to protect populations in streams that are open to angling.
  • Please refer to the current California Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations for streams that are closed to fishing.
  • McCloud River redband trout seldom exceed 14 inches in length and, like most resident trout populations, are opportunistic feeders.
  • Standard dry and nymph flies and small lures are effective.
trout eating from river bottom
McCloud River redband trout. Photo by © Glenn Kubacki used with permission.
river rushing through forest
McCloud River.

Fisheries Branch
1010 Riverside Parkway, West Sacramento, CA 95605 |