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River Salmon Opener July 16

Gary Heffley, author photo, myoutdoorbuddy.com
By Gary Heffley
07/06/16 -- The always anticipated salmon opener for much of the Sacramento ( below the Red Bluff Diversion Dam ), Feather and American Rivers is slated for July 16. The popular Sacramento River area of the Deschutes Road Bridge in Anderson to the Red Bluff Diversion Dam opens later on August 1. This stretch includes the famous Barge Hole at the mouth of Battle Creek and the Gravel Bar which is one of best wading access points for salmon anglers in the North State.

Forgotten will be the currently excellent fishing for trout and shad on many reaches of the rivers as the King Salmon will garner the attention of most river anglers. For the opener the best option for success is to hook up with a locally respected guide who knows how to handle their boats in crowded conditions safely and have the local knowledge that will give you the best opportunity for success. Do research when selecting a guide as many may hang the shingle but those with the expertise and experience will increase your catch rate potential.

Many anglers will turn to sardine wrapped plugs such as Flatfish, Kwikfish and Brad's Killerfish. They will choose their favorite color combinations and often top off the wrap offering with a special pre-soak attractant recipe that is more secret than KFC's selection of herbs and spices. Others in the lower reaches of the Sacramento River ( especially below Princeton Riffle) may turn to anchoring and backing large spinners through holding areas. Remember these salmon are not feeding, they have only the completion of the spawning process in mind. Most strikes are reaction to a something in the way or as a perceived threat to the process. Fresh crawdad tails are also used by many guides with their plug wraps as crawdads are seen as an instinctive natural threat to deposited eggs and redds.

Back bouncing roe and boondogging are also effective methods for boaters to take salmon throughout the season. Fresh salmon roe that is treated with brine and borax is often mixed with special scents to entice the bite. Pautske's Bloody Tuna has been a favorite additive for many in recent years.

For the novice boat operators looking to ply the river on their first opener, I will give my yearly word of caution and wisdom. Especially on the Sacramento River, but on all rivers flows are deceptively high as water demands for points South are met. The current is fast and must be given the utmost attention; snags, sweepers and sandbars are potentially everywhere and can turn a nice day on the water into an emergency in an instant. Make sure your motor is strong enough to return you to your ramp of origin and that the draw boat and motor is taken into account as you travel the river. And always wear PFDs!

Another word of advice for newbies is to be respectful when motoring through holes and reaches where anglers are set up and fishing, slow down and move to the side if possible. Blasting through a hole at full speed will scatter salmon in an instant, shutting the fishing down for everyone around and raise the anger of all affected.

Have a great season, keep the regulations handy and read them.

Gary Heffley has been a valued contributor to MyOutdoorBuddy for over seven years serving as manager, sales representative and reporter for much of Northern California. He is an avid outdoorsman and loves to fish and write about his adventures. He has long history in the Sporting Goods field and is presently managing the Gift Bar and Camping Department at Sportsman’s Warehouse in Redding.


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german brown trout in Modoc creek. MyOutdoorBuddy.com
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