Mill Creek and Upper Deer Creek - Sierra Tahoe

Mill Creek and Upper Deer Creek

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Mill Creek and Deer Creek

Suggested Flies for Mill and Upper Deer Creek:
Sierra Tahoe Hatch Selection

Elk Hair Caddis #14-18
Fox's Poopah, Olive and Tan #14-18
Sparkle Pupa #14-18
Z-Wing Caddis #14-18
Peeking Caddis #14-18

Copper John #12-18
Prince Nymph #14-16
BH Bird Nest #14-18
Pheasant Tail #16-18
S&M Nymph #16-18
Zebra Midge #16-18

Parachute Adams #12-16
Grey Wulff #12-16
Elk Hair Caddis #12-16
Parachute Madam X #12-16
Yellow Humpy #12-16
Yellow Stimulator #8-10

Dave's Hopper #6-8
Parachute Hopper #6-8
Cutter's Perfect Ant #8-10

Directions: Deer Creek directions

You can reach this area of Upper Deer Creek and Upper Mill Creek by taking Hwy 32 out of Chico or Hwy 36 out of Red Bluff. The two highways intersect at Deer Creek Meadows. To reach the trailhead of Upper Mill Creek, take Hwy 172 off Hwy 36 (about 8 miles west of the intersection of Hwy 36/32) and go just past the community of Mill Creek to a turnoff (FS Road 28N06). Follow this road for 6.1 miles to the Upper Mill Creek Trailhead. From the trailhead you can hike along the creek to Black Rock Campground, a 13 mile distance. You can fish Upper Deer Creek from the many areas along Hwy 32 from the intersection of Hwy 36 and 32 at Deer Creek Meadows to the Deer Creek Trailhead at the Red Bridge. At Deer Creek Meadows, a fence ladder is available to access the creek. Along Hwy 32 are multiple turnouts and three campgrounds to park and access the creek. Red Bridge is a popular parking spot to access the trail to the "catch & release section" of Deer Creek.

Notes:Deer Creek- Jon Baiocchi
Deer Creek and Mill Creek are one of the few Sierra streams have not been dammed and remains a natural flowing stream.

Deer Creek flows for 61 miles where it meets it's first Diversion dam about 7 miles from the Sacramento River confluence. Deer Creek has Spring-run and Fall-run Chinook Salmon spawning migrations that reach as far as the Upper Deer Creek Falls. Winter Steelhead also make the journey. The Spring-run salmon counts were about 2800 annually during the 1980s and have declined to just a few hundred in recent years. Two fish ladders were constructed in the 1940's but only the one at the lower falls is still functional. A Special regulation section is from Upper Deer Creek Falls downstream to the Ishi Wilderness. The season is the last Saturday of April to November 15th. and allows only artificial lures with barbless hooks. Only two hatchery trout and hatchery steelhead can be kept daily. A clipped adipose fin will indicate hatchery fish. Above the Upper Deer Creek Falls, trout plants are made within the two campground areas of Elam and Alder Creek with 8-10" Rainbows. An occasional Brown Trout can be caught with some larger fish 12-16" found in the deeper pools. This area has no restrictions on fishing and has a five fish limit. Below Upper Deer Creek Falls, the wild trout tend to be selective. Most fish this area of Deer Creek with a small caddis pupa pattern and a Beadhead nymph dropper. Concentrate on the larger pools. Some small attractor dries such as Humpys and Olive Elk Hair Caddis are very effective but mainly with the smaller fish throughout the day. Starting in the early season, try to fish during the warmest times of the day. Use small mayfly nymphs and beadhead nymphs with a tight line technique. Also use extra split shot to get the nymphs deep in the pools. In early Spring, most will fish with nymphs but there may be some sparse hatches of caddis and stoneflies. The Baetis (BWO) hatch will commence in May around midday and continue through June. In June, Golden Stone nymphs and Yellow Sallies are effective as well as caddis during the hatches in the late afternoon and early evening. In July, Terrestrials are effective in areas of overhanging trees and brush. The caddis hatch continues through the evening hours when a small caddis adult patterns with a small mayfly dropper can be effective in the riffles and runs of the creek. Little Yellow Stones will also hatch during the evening hours. During August and September, the trout action is best during the morning and late evening hours. Shortline nymphing with caddis pupa and a small mayfly nymph are generally used. Also try using terrestrial dries with a beadhead dropper. Terrestrial patterns are your best bet during this time as the hatches are sporadic and short. When the waters warms in midsummer, fishing will slow down and you must use longer leaders and tippets down to 6x. In October, try nymphing with an October Caddis Pupa and a small mayfly nymph dropper. The fish will be under cover. Generally, the best fishing during this month is mid-afternoons.

Mill Creek flows 47 miles from its headwaters within Lassen Volcanic National Park to the Sacramento River. The headwaters include the hot mineral-laden springs and small high gradient tributaries found within the upper elevations. These tributaries come together in Mill Creek Meadows, which is just above Childs Meadow, and Mill Creek becomes a meandering meadow stream. The creek then flows along Highway 172 which is heavily forested before plunging into a deep canyon which flows through the Ishi Wilderness and onto the Central Valley where it meets the Sacramento River. Mill Creek has no dams or diversions except within the lower reaches. No construction of new dams is allowed since the creek serves as one of the last spawning streams for Spring Chinook Salmon and Winter Steelhead. However, enough water is diverted within it's lower reaches at Ward Dam and Upper Dam that very little flow is available once it reaches the Sacramento River during the Summer. Within the canyon section is the Mill Creek Trail which is about 14 miles from the trailhead at Mill Creek to Blackrock Campground. The creek contains wild Rainbows and Browns. It is also the spawning beds for Spring Chinook and Winter Steehead. These andronomous fish have been known to reach the 5300 foot elevation of Mill Creek, the highest elevation for these fish in California. Records indicate that over 16,000 Chinook spawned in Mill Creek in 1952 and this number has dwindled to about 1,000 today.

Fishing Regulations

Mill Creek:

Special Fishing Regulations: (A) From the Lassen National Park boundary downstream to the U.S. Geological Survey gauging station cable crossing at the mouth of Mill Creek Canyon. Season: Last Saturday in Apr. through Nov. 15. Only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used.2 hatchery trout or hatchery steelhead.** 4 hatchery trout or hatchery steelhead** in possession.

Deer Creek:

Headwaters to Upper Deer Creek Falls. Open from the last Saturday in April - November 15th. No restrictions. Five fish limit.

Special Fishing Regulations: (A) From 250 feet below Upper Deer Creek Falls and fishway (located 1.5 miles upstream from Potato Patch Campground) downstream 31 miles to U.S. Geological Survey gauging station cable crossing at mouth of Deer Creek Canyon (see Section 2.35 for closure at Upper Deer Creek Falls). Season: Last Saturday in Apr. through Nov. 15. Only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used.2 hatchery trout or hatchery steelhead.** 4 hatchery trout or hatchery steelhead** in possession.

**Hatchery trout or steelhead in anadromous waters are those showing a healed adipose fin clip (adipose fin is absent). Unless otherwise provided, all other trout and steelhead must be immediately released. Wild trout or steelhead are those not showing a healed adipose fin clip (adipose fin is present).

© 2020 Steve Schalla
This page is not to be copied without my explicit permission.
Deer Creek Meadows Elam Campground Wilson Lake Alder Creek Campground Upper Deer Creek Falls Red Bridge Lower Deer Creek Falls Beaver Dam Mill Creek Upper Mill Creek Mill Creek Campground Upper NF Feather Upper Butte Creek