Antelope Creek Lodge, California, July 3-5th 1015, Trip Summary: Nestled in between Redding, California and Klamath Falls Oregon beneath the craggy windswept cornices and spires of Mount Shasta lies Antelope Creek Lodge, the perfect location to teach kids how to fly fish. This was our first trip to this lodge which is managed and owned by Mike Michalak of The Fly Shop in Redding CA. We arrived just as thunder crackled overhead and varicose veins of lightning shattered the sky unleashing giant rain drops that plopped at our feet. Mount Shasta causes spectacular collisions of mountain light due to its towering interference with weather blowing in from the Pacific Coast and the result is a kaleidoscope of vividly changing colors and some of the most spectacular sunsets you will ever lay eyes on. Being our first trip to the Lodge, we were blown away by the quality of the experience and the quality of the fishing. Consisting of an upper and lower lake fed by a little winding technical creek that snakes its way through a meadow dotted with rich riparian overgrowth, the property offers something for everyone. While at the lodge, the first day we spent our time fishing the upper lake which is fed by a tumbling waterfall and stuffed with cruising rainbow trout and colorful little browns. Here our kids were able to catch trout up to 24 inches completely unassisted. The casting wasn’t always pretty being their first time with their fly rods, but the result certainly was as they grinned from ear to ear. To be parents and see kids enjoying the outdoors doing something as technical as catching fish on their own pink and blue 4 weight fly rods is something special that is simply hard to duplicate. We soon lost count of fish hooked and landed in the upper lake and decided to test the stream next. The stream is not kid friendly and gobbles up flies nearly as fast as the trout that inhabit it. Technical and challenging and stuffed with the biggest rainbows I have seen since fishing in Alaska and New Zealand, I wasn’t adverse to conning the kids into taking a little break to play on their IPad at the lodge while I eagerly, if not selfishly, feasted on my opportunity to do a little fishing by myself. The stream is technical with every nook and cranny holding a rainbow or German brown. I hooked many fish in the 18-20 inch range and enjoyed the challenge of keeping them out of root wads and overhanging branches. The creek requires pinpoint accuracy with either a dry fly or wet fly and expert mending skills to properly present a fly under overhanging logs or secret, darkened cut banks. I have no idea how many I caught, but I can say half of them won the battle by finding some creative way to break me off or get away. At the end of each fishing day, the lodge is waiting, warm and welcoming. The hosts Gary and Desire whip up high caliber meals to replenish the energy from catching so many trophy trout. They also dispense a little fishing advice if you're good and you make it back to the lodge in time for every meal. On our final day at Antelope Creek Lodge, we drove down and fished the lower lake. It has a small dock and an outlet that flows downstream a couple of miles before flowing subterranean through the ancient porous lave fields that once oozed from flanks of Mount Shasta. The lower lake was as rewarding as the upper lake with broad shouldered, full finned rainbows sporting spots from head to toe. From our experience, we also caught larger brown trout painted in yellow with brilliant red speckles covering their silvery sides. One peek through the bushes at the creek which flows adjacent to the lake revealed giant rainbows hiding in the shadows of trees cautiously sipping caddis and mayflies from the dimpled surface. These rainbows were much larger in size than the ones I encountered upriver and I couldn't help but wonder if they washed downstream during some freakish thounderstorm event. I snuck into the bushes and slowly mended a dry fly down to one of these giants. Upon sipping the fly it promptly broke me off scattering all of the other fish into their secret hiding places. There is no question this is the best place we have taken our kids fly-fishing. If you can bribe them into playing on an IPad, as a parent you can sneak out to get a couple of hours on the creek yourself. The real value though is the experience of spending time with our kids and watching them get hooked on fly fishing. The kids were able to catch enough fish that they gained invaluable experience casting, hooking; fighting, landing and then correctly releasing gorgeous trout gently back into the lake in a private and serene setting. Two thumbs up to Antelope Creek Lodge, and oh, the kids love the hot tub and tire swing too.

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