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
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