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Sacramento River plug fishing

By Jeff Goodwin
09/17/15 -- Each and every year there comes a time for me when it becomes necessary to gather up or purchase the bulk of the items I will need to keep me fishing for salmon, trout, and steelhead all year long. This includes hooks, line, sinker components, terminal tackle, bait cure, and most importantly, lures from Yakima Bait Company. A great deal of credit for my success on the water every year goes to the products that Yakima Bait Company produces, specifically, the Flatfish and Mag Lip deep diving plugs. Each year, I will give Jarod Higginbotham a call up in Granger, Wa. and place my order. Jarod is the Assistant Sales and Marketing Manager at Yakima Bait Company and is both very knowledgable, and very helpful when it comes to getting the latest and greatest info on yakima Bait Co's product lines. He takes very good care of his customers and his inside knowledge of their plug line is impressive to say the least.

Jaynie Goodwin with her Sacramento River rainbow trout. Poto submitted by Jeff Goodwin's guide Service
Jaynie Goodwin with her Sacramento River rainbow trout. Photos submitted by Jeff Goodwin's Guide Service

Yakima Bait Company is a familiar name to every successful angler on the Sacramento River and their deep diving plugs are considered by many to be second to none when it comes to catching salmon, trout, and steelhead. I personally will not be found on the water without a selection of Flatfish or Mag Lip plugs, especially on the Sacramento River. Yakima Bait Company offers many different sizes in their Flatfish and Mag Lip product lines, but I've found that four or five sizes will keep you fishing effectively here on the Sac.

Chuck Steen of Palo Cedro, California and his salmon. Photos submitted by Jeff Goodwin's Guide Service
Chuck Steen of Palo Cedro, California and his salmon.

When it comes to salmon fishing, I recommend using the T55 and T60 Flatfish. I also recommend fishing with the Mag Lip 5.0. These plugs have been used to effectively catch Sacramento River salmon for decades, and in recent years, the Mag Lip 5.0 plug is becoming a rising star on local waters as well. They have stood the test of time and continue to be the top producing plug on rivers up and down the west coast. Flatfish plugs will catch fish right out of the package, and the newer generation plugs require very little, if any, tuning at all. The effectiveness of these plugs can definitely be enhanced by wrapping them with a fresh sardine fillet. In recent years, anglers have been wrapping them with canned tuna (packed with oil), or even fresh tuna belly meat. Wrapping flatfish plugs has its tricks, but there are "how to" videos on the web that will help get you up to speed on wrapping them. The Yakima Bait Company website also has a "know-how" section that will show you how to wrap/fish their plugs as well. I would love to get into the "how to" aspect of fishing these plugs, but that topic deserves an article of its own.

Jaynie Goodwin reeling in a rainbow trout, photo submitted by Jeff Goodwin
Jaynie reeling it in on the Sacramento

In recent years, the Mag Lip plugs have taken the trout and steelhead industry by storm. I have been using them for several years now and have found the 3.0 and 3.5 Mag Lip plugs to be the best fit for the trout and steelhead fishing I do here on Shasta County waters. Mag Lip plugs swim straight right out of the package and are very effective when back trolled into holding water on the Sacramento river. These plugs are deadly effective, but current speed and debris will affect how well they swim. When back trolling them in the river, current that is too slow or too fast will cause the plug to surface so keeping them in the right water flow is important. Mag Lip plugs are also very effective when trolling them in the lakes and reservoirs, either flat lined or off a down rigger. I've found that boat speeds above 2.0 mph, but below 3.0 mph seems to get the most bites in standing water. The Mag Lip 3.0's and 3.5's will dive to a maximum depth of 10' and 14' respectively so keep that in mind when targeting fish in certain sections of water. Remember, before sending your Mag Lips down into the strike zone, adding Pro Cure Bait Scent gels can sometimes enhance the plugs effectiveness while fishing for trout and steelhead as well. The Mag Lip plugs come in numerous color combinations, but honestly, I haven't found a color yet that won't catch fish on local waters. The action in the Mag Lip is what makes it such a deadly effective plug.

There's a lot of material out there that will help you catch fish while using Yakima Bait Company's Flatfish and Mag Lip plugs that I didn't include in this short article. Use the internet, buy topic related fishing books, or feel free to call me with any questions you might have about what, when, where, or how to fish these super effective salmon, trout, and steelhead plugs! Please feel free to share the pic's of your awesome fish caught while using Flatfish and Mag Lip plugs with me at! I'll make sure to share your success with Jarod Higginbotham at Yakima Bait Company. You might also get one of your pics posted in one of my future articles in MyOutdoorBuddy! Tight lines everyone!

Jeff Goodwin specializes in guiding and fishing for salmon, trout and steelhead in Northern California and Southern Oregon rivers. He also has many associates who work with him and/or guide on other waters in this region. To learn more please visit or contact him at or at (707) 616-1905.

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german brown trout in Modoc creek.
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