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Sacramento River fishing improves

Article and photos by Jeff Goodwin
08/09/16 -- As I indicated in my last report, the August 1st up river trout and salmon openers were miles apart as far as catch rates go. The Barge Hole produced very few salmon on the August 1st opener, but on the trout opener, fishing was excellent for all who fished the 5.5 mile section of the Sacramento River below Keswick Reservoir.

To put things into perspective, my five guided trout fishing trips last week yielded my clients over 230 rainbow trout that were caught and released. My largest party was three anglers, and my smallest was only one angler. By weeks end, the average per rod catch was roughly 20 rainbow trout caught and released per rod, per day. Most trout averaged 16"-18", but my clients caught many that went as big as 22". The quality and size of the trout in the upper sections like the Posse Grounds drift and the Sundial Bridge drift, was simply amazing.

All of my clients were blown away by how good the fishing was, and most said they had no idea such a fishery even existed in California. I have a few days booked next week, and have an available seat on 8/12 with another solo angler if any of you are interested. If you would like to book a day of trout fishing on the Sacramento River in Redding before the 17th, please get ahold of me as soon as possible. This is a great trip for family or friends alike!

Jason Farnsworth with rainbow trout, by jeff Goodwin
Jason Farnsworth of Weaverville shows off his trophy rainbow trout he caught while fishing with Jeff Goodwin's Guide Service.
I had booked an early season King salmon fishing trip for a client that could only get on the water one day, the 8th. I had told him fishing was slow and that we may need to drive south to find some fresh salmon. He wanted to fish local and didn't mind if the fishing was slow. I met him at the Roosters Landing boat launch at first light. he loaded up his gear in my boat and we blasted down stream to the Barge Hole at the mouth of Battle Creek.

We were the only boat there and had the hole all to ourselves. I had heard there had been a good plug bite recently down in Red Bluff so my game plan was to soak plugs for a good portion of the day. We fished the top of the hole, middle of the hole, and the bottom of the hole, and came up empty. I decided to run down to Old Mouth and give that section of the river a shot. On the way down, I noticed 3 anglers on the "Gravel Bar" and thought to myself, this is bad. No signs of salmon and no anglers to even try.

After two passes down Old Mouth, I packed up the rods and headed back to the Barge Hole. We worked the gut of the Barge Hole one last time with plugs before changing the game plan. One other small boat with a solo angler was now hanging eggs in the hole. I had finished working the plugs down to the bottom of the hole again. When I turned and headed back up again I saw the angler in the small boat hook into a salmon. We watched him play it out and as he slipped the fish into his net, I could see that it was a nice bright King salmon. I looked over to my client and said, if he can catch a salmon, we can catch a salmon.

Russ Davidson with king salmon, by Jeff Goodwin
Russ Davidson of Shingletown hoists a beautiful king salmon he caught in the Barge Hole on the Sacramento River.

I pulled out my spin rods and headed to the top of the Barge Hole. G.Loomis E6X spin rods in hand, I kicked the boat sideways and started my drift through the Barge hole. Once, twice, and then a third time we drug my eggs through the hole waiting for one of the rods to go down. As luck would have it, the third drift was a charm and suddenly we were doing battle with a silver sided King salmon. At 15 pounds, this king gave my client, Russ Davidson, quite the fight. As time wore on, this great fish played out and I was able to scoop her into the net. After a tough morning of slow fishing, Russ had the salmon he was hoping for and I had done my job and put my client on a fresh King salmon. High fives, a hand shake, and another hour of fishing made up the rest of the day before we headed back to Roosters after calling it a day.

Reports are coming in and salmon are starting to be caught from Chico to Anderson now. If this year is anything like the last few, we should have good numbers of salmon in the Sac before too long and with the numbers of salmon showing in the ocean, we could be looking at a much better season than forecasted. I will be sure to keep the reports coming in as fishing for salmon improves. I have several days open for salmon fishing trips in September and October so don't wait to get your day of fishing booked with me. I will be giving honest reports and if the salmon fishing looks to be poor for my clients, I will let you know and offer to reschedule or a refund of your deposit. That's just the way I do business.

Tight lines everyone, and stay tuned to and for more of my reports in the coming weeks and beyond.

Jeff Goodwin is a full time Northern California fishing guide. He guides year round for salmon, trout, steelhead, Kokanee, and bass on Northern California rivers and lakes. He fishes many bodies of water in the Redding area, but also guides the Sacramento River as far down as Colusa during certain seasons. Jeff can also be found on the Klamath River chasing ocean fresh King salmon and steelhead in August each year. To learn more about the fishing trips Jeff has to offer, please visit Jeff Goodwin's Guide Service at You can also find him on Facebook, Instagram,and Twitter, or please feel free to call him anytime at (707) 616-1905.

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