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Sacramento River to get angler’s attention

Gary Heffley author photo, myoutdoorbuddy.com

By Gary Heffley
07/16/15 -- Most Sacramento River anglers will be concerned with two things on August 1: Opening of salmon fishing from just above the Red Bluff Diversion Dam to the Deschutes Bridge in Anderson, and re-opening of trout fishing above the Hwy. 44 Bridge.

Some anglers are already fishing for salmon below the Red Bluff Diversion Dam where the salmon season opens today. Note: the river opened downstream from 650 feet below the dam to the Highway 113 Bridge at Knight’s Landing on July 15.

On August first, anglers will be lining the popular Gravel Bar where salmon will be running a gauntlet of roe and beads, while boaters upstream will be jostling for position using a variety of techniques at the Barge Hole. Roe and Sardine wrapped diving baits like Kwikfish, Killer Fish, Mag Lips and Flatfish will be drifted, bounced and back-trolled just off the bottom in search of the first kings of the year. All other popular holes between Red Bluff and the Deschutes Bridge will also be stacked with boating anglers.

Jason Vallotton of Redding with a Sacramento River rainbow trout. Photo by Jeff Goodwin, Jeff Goodwin’s Guide Service
Jason Vallotton of Redding with a Sacramento River rainbow trout. Photo by Jeff Goodwin, Jeff Goodwin’s Guide Service

But not to be forgotten is the reopening August 1 of the river between 650 feet below Keswick Dam and the Highway 44 Bridge in Redding. This stretch had been closed to protect the river’s winter salmon run from stress and interference caused by trout anglers. While this area remains closed to angling for or taking salmon even incidentally, this popular and trout-rich stretch of river will once again be open to barbless trout angling. While there is a take limit of two trout on this area of river, catch and release is practiced by most all that fish here.

With consistent flow rates angling should be fantastic for these wild native rainbows. It should be remembered that this is a wild fishery as the stocking truck does not visit here. Any trout over 16 inches caught on the river is technically considered a steelhead, and there are a lot over 16 inches on this stretch.

But while technically considered a steelhead recent studies show that even the largest of rainbows are resident fish that have not been to the sea. In fact, few steelhead are taken above the Barge Hole, the mouth of Battle Creek, as many hatchery raised steelies return to Battle Creek and the Coleman National Fish Hatchery. The native rainbows are bright, robust and full of fight and while others are fishing for the salmon in the “Combat Zone” take the opportunity to relax and enjoy the chance to hook some exciting rainbows.


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