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Chinook Salmon Fishing on the Sacramento River

Chinook Salmon Fishing on the Sacramento River

The Sacramento River on an August Evening

The Sacramento River on an August Evening

The Sacramento River

The Sacramento River is steeped in history and her importance cannot be overstated, she has as much value in today's California as she had to the Native American Indians that inhabited its banks and surrounding land for thousands of years.  The Sacramento is one of the lifelines of California, she is the longest river in California and arguably the most important as well.  Flowing 382 miles through the Sacramento Valley into the Delta and out to the Pacific Ocean, her vast watershed serves the entire state in one aspect or another.  

While the “Sac” has been altered and modified from her original and natural state to squeeze all man can squeeze out of the river, for the purpose of serving the needs of tens of millions of Californians and the greatest agricultural industry in our nation. The Sacramento River, well she is still capable of doing what Mother Nature had originally intended for her and that is to provide and protect an abundance of varying ecosystems, fish, aquatic creatures and wildlife as she makes her wandering journey from her uppermost region to the Pacific Ocean.

The Sacramento River has unbound beauty and diversity, she is an amazing river.  We absolute love every minute we spend on this river, it is simply good for your soul.  You can still find your boat alone on several stretches of this river throughout the year.

As man struggles to find a balance between nature and agriculture, we still have time to save this great river.  It will take common sense and listening to all that use it, whether it is the farmers, the fisherman or the recreational user, it is all about balance.  We must first stop from carving her out of existence and realize we only have so much water from her on any given year.  Stop the bleeding and look for real acceptable solutions not for man-made restoration but for natural restoration and sound water management.  Mother Nature is resilient if we can simply get out of her way.

Mike Rasmussen has written a great blog on his page SalmonSacRiver.com which speaks a lot of common sense and truth to bringing back salmon on the Sacramento River.  It is labeled Sacramento River Salmon Need Your Support! January 21, 2022 “Open Minds Make For Tight Lines” I encourage everyone to read it. Mike has his own guide service and probably dedicates more of his time on the Sacramento River than most.

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The 2022 Season and Forecast

The 2022 Season and Forecast

The 2022 Sacramento River Salmon Season has been set by the CDFW.  We are looking at a pretty traditional salmon season, with a split opener on the Sacramento.  The section below the Red Bluff Diversion Dam has an opener of July 16, 2022 and a December 16, 2022 closure.  The section of the Sacramento River that lies above Red Bluff Diversion Dam up to the Deschutes Road Bridge in Anderson has an opener of August 1, 2022 with a January 1, 2023 closure.  The daily bag limit set at 2 Salmon and the possession limit set at 4 Salmon.

This is where things get tricky, they are forecasting a good run or at least better than last year, however we are experiencing a historical drought and we have been subject to extended periods of low flows on the Sacramento.  What does all this mean, if you ask me no-one knows and there will be a thousand opinions including mine.  

Here is what I do know, we will do our best to keep our eyes on the river and work with our clients to get them in the best position to be in the fish.  Mother Nature will do what she does and has for thousands of years and we are hoping that the pundits are correct and we have a great year of fish to make their annual migration to spawn future generations of fish naturally and through mitigation processes such as hatcheries such as the Coleman National Fish Hatchery located on the historic Battle Creek.

We hope that wether you book with us or someone else you do take a day or two and fish for the King Salmon on the Sacramento River.  Keep your drag set perfect, tip up and your line tight.

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Early Season Sacramento River Salmon

Early Season Sacramento River Salmon

The Early Season - July & August Sacramento River Salmon Fishing

We consider the early season to run from July 16th - August 31st, the river on a normal year has heavy and high flows as it is still pushing water south for agriculture.  It's normally cold and the salmon have been migrating up the river from the Pacific Ocean as they fill the main Sacramento and all its tributaries.

You can expect early mornings and the weather to be hot during the early season.  You’ll need lots of fluids and sunscreen because there are not a lot of places to hide from the sun or the glare on the river.  

These fish can be sporadic in the river system but when you hook one of these early season kings, they are fresh, clean, and full of fight.  They pull hard and use the heavy flows of the river to their advantage.  

The rewards for your hard work and endurance are bright silver Sacramento kings.  These early fish are fat cut beautiful and even though located way upriver are still excellent for the table.

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The Mid Season - September & October Sacramento River Salmon Fishing

The Mid Season - September & October Sacramento River Salmon Fishing

The months September and October is the "Heart of the Season" for the fall run salmon on the Sacramento River.  The big fish are sitting in the holes and moving methodically towards their spawning grounds, with each passing day more fish enter the river system.  

During the mid-season you can encounter fish that have been in the system for a month or two and you can have fresh fish that are expediting their run.  The heavy flows have begun to lighten concentrating the fish in a shrinking river.

The river will be a little more crowd with recreational fisherman and guides who are doing their best to put their clients on limits of kings daily.  With more fish in the river, it becomes a game of patience as the fish are there it’s now about finding the right presentation and technique to get the fish to bite.

Fall has begun in Northern California and the mornings will be cool to cold it’s an instant wakeup call as you boat to your starting destination.  We find ourselves seeking the first rays of sun for warmth, but it doesn’t take long for the heat to kick in and the coats and sweatshirts to get pulled off.

If the bite is on, a lot of the boats are putting several fish on the deck and pulling off the river by 10 or 11 each morning.  It’s a great time to hunt king salmon on the Sacramento River.

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The Late Season - November & December Salmon Fishing

The Late Season - November & December Salmon Fishing

The late season November and December on the Sacramento River is about chasing the biggest king salmon on the river, the Late Fall Run.  On a normal year we have had one or two big rainstorms that sent the early fall fish up the tributaries to spawn.  The Coleman National Fish Hatchery has been spawning fish and its holding pens are full but honestly, we need them to spawn more fish.

The river has become quiet, and the river’s largest kings of year have begun to move upriver the Late Fall Fish.  The Sac’s Late Fall Kings are an elusive fish that seem to prefer a plug to roe.  Everyone has their opinion on why that is, which all have merit.  It doesn’t matter because having a Late Fall King grab a plug is an absolute adrenaline rush.

The weather will most likely be cold and wet as you wait for a potential trophy Sacramento River king to crush for Flat Fish.  It’s a patient and hypnotical endeavor as you watch your rod tip methodically pulse while your plug dances in the depths.

Late Fall King Salmon fishing on the Sacramento River is not about putting numbers of fish on the deck but putting a trophy king a potential fish of a lifetime in the net.

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The SC2 Outdoors California River Fishing Gallery

River Fishing (Sacramento & Trinity Rivers) Gallery