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August 1 brings changes to Sac River

Gary Heffley author photo, myoutdoorbuddy, norcal fish reports

By Gary Heffley
07/26/16 -- A couple of major fishing regulation changes for the Sacramento River in Shasta and Tehama Counties will take effect on August 1, opening a couple of popular stretches of water to both trout and salmon anglers, respectively.

The first change will be the reopening from the temporary closure of the very popular trout laden stretch of the Sacramento River from Keswick Dam downstream to the Hwy 44 Bridge in Redding. This stretch of river includes the Posse Grounds and Sundial Bridge areas so very popular and productive for drift boat anglers. Very limited shore access and wading are found here and remember that with the high summer flows wading is all but impossible and not recommended.

Trout here have not seen an artificial fly, lure, or worm drift by for months and with the salmon run in the immediate future, drifting egg patterns and beads can be very effective. Trout fishing should be outstanding despite many angler's focus turning to salmon, but remember this area downstream to the Descheutes Rd. Bridge in Anderson remains closed to salmon fishing year round, protecting valuable spawning grounds.

The opening, August 1, of the Sacramento River from Descheutes Rd Bridge downstream through Red Bluff to salmon fishing is always highly anticpated by many anglers in part as two very popular stretches of river open. The infamous and famous (depending on your perspective) Barge Hole at the mouth of Battle Creek will once again be the site where boats and anglers will be battling, figuratively and actually, for prime positions. Many will be anglers backtrolling sardine wrapped Kwikfish styled lures while others will try to back bounce roe weaving their way through all the boat traffic. It is often said that on the opener one could cross the river by walking across the boats fishing in the Barge Hole. This spot is prime as many salmon stage in this hole prior to making the final spawning run into Battle Creek, where many salmon were reared at Coleman National Fish Hatchery just upstream.

Also opening on the first will be the equally famous/infamous Gravel Bar, an area that affords one of the few productive wading access spots on the river where anglers often line the river waist deep, shoulder width apart, casting beaded yarn bits in hope of having a salmon pick up the offering. Just downstream of the Barge Hole, this is another prime location for salmon throughout the season.

There is a serious access issue to the Gravel Bar as a recent fatal auto accient on Jelly's Ferry Bridge, has closed the bridge for at least another 40 days according to the Tehama County Public Works Department. This will limit access to the Gravel Bar to arrivng from the North out of Anderson, following and continuing past signage directing to Coleman Fish Hatchery. The Gravel Bar is located south where the turnoff to the river is a well travelled non-signed break in the bushes to the west.

Every year I caution newbies to the Gravel Bar to observe and follow the lead of the “regulars”. In these tight confines, it is imparative that everyone use the same weight, techniques and cadence as those next to you. This is not the place for individuality as you cannot choose to toss spinners in the midst of everyone tossing beads and yarn. I have called the combat fishing of the Gravel Bar a combination of “Testosterone and Etiquette” the title of a past article found in the archives.

While there are always salmon in these areas, most of the salmon run is still outside the Gate waiting for that magical urge to head upstream. When it happens, many fresh, clean, bright salmon surge into the river system with only one thing in mind, returning to the location of their birth to complete the life cycle. At times, salmon are caught in these upper reaches of the river with sea lice still attached, so fast is ther trek upstream. Success is often being at the right place at the right time, but being with a guide who understands the ebbs and flows of the numerous surges upstream and key holding / resting as well as intercepting locations can greatly enhance any anglers success rate.

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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