Nice article on this fabled waterway (I fished it as a teenager in the 1950’s); from Cal Trout.
“California Trout was founded on the daring idea that healthy, functional rivers could sustain resilient wild trout populations without the help of hatcheries. By 1971, state fisheries managers had nearly given up on the preposterous concept of sensitive cold-water fish reproducing naturally.
“Consequently, when founding CalTrout member Richard May approached the Fish and Game Commission that same year with delusions of radically rethinking the way we manage rivers and fish in California, few imagined his vision would galvanize a new conservation ethic around fly-fishing and springboard CalTrout towards 50-years of storied existence and profound impact.
“May’s vision was realized thanks to the spring-fed, crystal-clear waters of Hat Creek in Northern California. Fed by massive volcanic aquifers residing under Mount Lassen, Hat Creek captured the imaginations of anglers throughout the west with its robust food-webs and macroinvertebrate abundance, stunning aquatic plants, pristine water quality, and huge fish.
“Hat Creek was the perfect place for a paradigm shift: investing in the protection of an entire ecological system to support wild fish instead of a building another hatchery to mitigate for the continued degradation of habitat.
“As May tells it, “Hat Creek was a demonstration project because we wanted to prove to the public, and to the power that be in the Department of Fish and Game and the Fish and Game Commission, you could manage fish on a natural basis.” Soon after, Hat Creek became the state’s first designated Wild Trout Water under the newly formed Heritage and Wild Trout Program, thus beginning a new era in fisheries management in California.
“Following Hat Creek, CDFW designated a total of 59 Heritage and Wild Trout Streams for protection across California. Anglers statewide refined their preference for fly-fishing and sharpened their senses to appreciate the vibrancy and stunning genetic diversity of wild and native fish in special places like the McCloud River, Walker River, Carson River, Smith River, Eel River, Eagle Lake, and Kern River.”
Retrieved February 5, 2021 from Hat Creek: From Past to Present | California Trout (caltrout.org)