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Sac. River fall salmon run winds down

Jeff Goodwin author photo,

By Jeff Goodwin
10/19/15 -- With the tail end of the 2015 Sacramento River King salmon run making its way up river, and the flows from Keswick Reservoir being reduced to 5200 cfs this week, it would be safe to say we are now seeing the last of this year’s salmon season on the Sac. Anglers and guides alike will continue to hit the Sac in lower numbers for salmon until our first appreciable rain fall amounts give the fall run its last signal to push up into our local hatcheries and Sac River tributaries for their annual spawn.

Meanwhile, salmon fishing this past week remained steady and most river guides were coming in with half to full limits for their clients. I would expect the same thing this week before the salmon fishing drops off dramatically, mainly due to the lack of fishing pressure the river will see from here on out.

Redding angler Don Rich and Santa Maria angler Bryn Smith with their limits of Sacramento River King salmon. Photo submitted by Jeff Goodwin
Redding angler Don Rich and Santa Maria angler Bryn Smith with their limits of Sacramento River King salmon. Photo submitted by the author

Steelhead fishing should remain strong for those who pursue them, and the trout fishing will be very good as the egg drop from spawning salmon increases in the weeks to come as well. Most river guides have finished their salmon season and are taking a well deserved break after a long, tough, yet memorable season on the river. This will leave many of the river hot spots with very few, if any boats in them and this makes for the perfect time of year to find some solitude on the river when there are still a fair number of fish around to be caught.

Now speaking of catching salmon, be aware that the quality of our salmon this time of year isn't what what it was a few weeks or even months ago. At best, any salmon you put in the boat now should be considered for smoking and not so much for the BBQ. When harvesting river salmon this time of year, remember that the best meat quality will come from male salmon (bucks). Female salmon, (hens) will have the poorest meat quality and should be released for spawning. The salmon eggs produced by the hens will rapidly rob all of the nutrients from her body and the fat content and quality of her meat will be depleted beyond usefulness. Female salmon will be easily identified by the lack of a hook jaw seen on most male salmon and the female bellies will be fat and filled with mature eggs. Please keep this in mind when deciding on whether or not to keep your catch this time of the year.

For all you die hard salmon anglers out there, we do still have some big salmon action ahead of us with our "late fall" run of King salmon on the Sac. Typically, we will start to see some decent late fall salmon action around mid-November and salmon numbers will build until the Sac closes on December 16th. The action is usually slow and the weather can be brutal on the river, but the reward for putting in the time can be great. Some of the seasons biggest salmon of the year are caught, and unlike their October fall cousins, these late fall salmon are typically bright and in very good shape. Back trolling Yakima Bait Co. Flatfish wrapped with a sardine fillet is the most common technique for catching these salmon and can be very effective. When back trolling plugs, remember to check your plugs for grass fairly often again this year as it continues to be a problem that will certainly affect the number of take downs you have during the day. Good luck out there everyone and have a great time finishing up the 2015 Sacramento River King salmon season!

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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