The Best In The West
Fly Fishing The Lower Sacramento River
A big rainbow trout for most of us is any that require two hands to hold. The Lower Sacramento River, commonly known as “The Lower Sac” by the fly fishing crowd and anglers alike, has no shortage of big rainbow trout spread out along the 36 plus miles of river between Redding California all the way down river to Red Bluff River Park. That’s a lot of trout water. More than you could fish in a week! Travis Ortiz of Cal Fly Guy knows it all, well.
The Lower Sac is a big river. There are a couple locations for anglers to cast a fly rod from “The Posse Grounds” located a stone’s throw upstream from the famed Sun Dial Bridge. Another great option is Anderson River Park, located south of Redding.
Because the “Sac” is such a large river lined with private property, access to the best fishing in the west is accomplished in a drift boat. It’s easy to spend four hours or an entire day floating from riffle to run to countless giant swirly pools containing rainbow trout hovering near the surface, chasing emerging caddis during the late summer months. Most of the fishing is done from the drift boat. Imagine staying dry and comfortable all day catching and releasing rainbow trout! In the late summer through winter there are countless opportunities to get out of the boat and wade.
The Sac is a year-round fishery. There isn’t a “best” time to fish this river. It reliably delivers great fishing in January all the way through the summer and into our most popular time, the fall.
Fishing For Beginners & Experts
Fly fishing on The Sac is perfect for new anglers. There isn’t a fishing venue better suited for discovering the craft of fly fishing in California, Oregon or the west for that matter. Cal Fly Guide Travis Ortiz provides easy to understand and patient instruction ideal for kids and adults. Come expecting to catch and release what is for most of us a rainbow trout of a lifetime. Many anglers who have experienced the magic of the Lower Sacramento in Redding and river sections south, all the way down to Los Molinos at Mill Creek Park, routinely loose count of the beautiful, fat, powerful rainbow trout that naturally occur along the rivers top 40 miles-plus.
For the expert fly angler, the Sac offers excellent dry fly fishing, but it’s not readily available just by showing up! Planning ahead and coming at the right time of year is the key. The expert angler will love the beauty of the river, the powerful fight each and every rainbow trout provides and the challenge of placing nymphs or dry flies in the exact seam or glide.
Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer
Here’s a brief breakdown of what to expect from the fishing experience on the Lower Sac throughout the year:
Fall: Our most popular time mainly because the weather can be really nice. What’s there not to like about a mild day in fall, catching rainbow trout on a fly rod! Some amazing fishing happens downstream of isolated Salmon Redds where rainbow trout congregate in anticipation of intercepting high protein eggs that stray from the salmon redd, tumbling in the current down to where the rainbows spare no time in intercepting a meal that is responsible for the rapid growth rates we see through the winter months.
Winter: The days are shorter but it doesn’t take very long to find a few 20″ plus rainbows in the net! Expect daytime highs in the 40°F/5°C range to as high as 70°F/21°C. It can be brisk in the morning but rarely do we experience temperatures below 38°F/3°C. It can rain! It’s the misty, wet days that allow you to enjoy that investment you made in Gortex! Winter is known as a time we can truly enjoy miles of river to ourselves. It’s also the best time of year to get out of the boat and wade. The best dry fly fishing anywhere occurs on this river starting about late February and continues through the first half of March. The late winter days offer longer days, great fishing for migrating rainbows. We see the biggest rainbows of the entire year during the late winter months. Water conditions are usually great, but sometimes due to heavy rains, the water quality can be off-color. No big deal! Your guide Travis knows where to look for rainbows hiding out in the shallows. That off-color water actually works to our advantage!
Spring: Longer warmer days mixed in with rainy days. As the saying goes “How the weather in Redding during the spring? Just wait an hour!”. Well not really, but what really stands out about the spring fishing season on The Sac is the comfortable days cruising the river for rainbows under partly cloudy skies. Water conditions are low, easy to wade. Dry fly fishing can be off-the-charts good thanks to thick hatches of caddis and mayflies. Nymphing with caddis patterns produces hookups through most of the day tapering most days as the sun get’s low on the horizon. Many anglers loose count of the chances and bend fly rods by 3:30 PM!
Summer: Great fishing reports seem to be the norm during the summer months from June through mid-September. If there’s ever a hiccup in the quality of the fishing, it occurs when the flows from Shasta Dam are increased due to down-river irrigation, industrial and municipal needs. Increases are normal starting in late May through early June. Fishing returns to “normal” after about 24 ~ 48 hours post increase. It seems like the fish move around once the flows are increased from 6,000 CFS (Cubic Feet Per Second) to as much as 20,000 CFS. Too much water you might think? Actually, it’s awesome because the elevated water levels provide more habitat and that translates into more food for the fish and for you it means better fishing!! If there’s ever a way to improve the quality of a river and make better fishing, simply add water!. Late summer is well known as the “undiscovered season”. We see some of the best fishing of the year from mid-August through about the first week of September. It’s common to lose count of how many rainbows closing in on or exceeding 20″ are found in the net and posted to Instagram. Big smiles! Why do we call this the undiscovered season? Because everyone has plans to come in the fall which is literally around the corner!
How To Book
It’s easy to book a fly fishing adventure with Cal Fly Guy. Simply click over to his contact page and send him an email or give him a call or text.