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Trinity Fishing Guide

Lower Sacramento River (below Lake Shasta)

The Sacramento River has long been one of the finest fisheries in the West. From its high gradient, tumbling origins on the east side of the Trinity Alps and the west flank of towering Mt. Shasta, to its broad expanse as it becomes the lifeblood of California's central valley, "the Sac" is fish central on the West Coast. The damming of the Sacramento River at Shasta Dam, just north of Redding, has created mighty Shasta Lake, and magnificent, constant-temperature, tail water fishing of epic proportions.

The "Lower Sac,", below Shasta Dam, has become what is arguably the premier wild trout fishery in California.

Because of limited public access, the best of this fishery , beginning in Redding, and continuing for another 40 or 50 miles, to below Red Bluff, is best fished using a drift boat to access the miles and miles of highly productive fishing. The Lower Sac is a year-round fishery that can be highly productive any time that it isn't "blown out" due to high winter storm run-off.

The consistent cold 56° F temperature of the controlled flows, released deep within Shasta Lake, has not only produced a phenomenal wild trout and returning steelhead fishery. It has also arrested the decline of the king salmon runs, and is slowly restoring this fishery.


Best times of the year to fish the Lower Sacramento River

Beginning in September each year, the receding flows precipitated by the end of summer crop irrigation, signal the salmon to return to their natal waters. For the balance of the fall, the infusion of protein resulting from the eggs of the spawning salmon, as well as the insects that their spawning activity loosens from the river gravel, causes the huge population of hungry trout to move up on the shallows and sustain a feeding binge. This is also the time when the returning steelhead go on a binge in the lower reaches of these waters.

This is a fishery that is best exploited using egg patterns as well as nymphs, dead-drifted on the current seams and below the salmon redds.

The winter season usually kicks in in December, as the number of anglers dwindles, and the late fall kings return. The trout in the river are in prime condition, having gorged on salmon eggs for months. While the number of fish may drop at this time of year, this is the time when truly massive trout, often with samurai proportions, feed steadily on eggs. This is when we count coup on our largest fish of the year.

Spring usually beginsearly on the Lower Sac, and continues through March and April, well into May. This is the time for fishign dry flies. Caddis hatches frequently blanket the mid-day water, and the successful fisher quickly reacts to the stage of the hatch, moving from sub-surface images to surface patterns. Spring is a time of large numbers of fish.

Summer, beginning in June, and continuing through the heat of summer, well into August, provides late afternoon, early wing caddis opportunity. Although 100+ degree days are the norm, the 56° water makes fishing at this time a pleasant experience.



Robert Cunningham, dba Trinity Fishing Guide , is a permittee of the Shasta Trinity National Forests and is an equal opportunity service provider.
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