Fly Fishing The Lower Sacramento River: A Fly Fisher’s Paradise

Lower Sacramento River - Fly Fishing guide

Nestled between the scenic towns of Redding and Anderson in California, the Lower Sacramento River offers fly fishing anglers an unparalleled fly fishing experience. With its abundant population of rainbow trout, picturesque landscapes, and a diverse range of trout habitat, the Lower Sacramento River stands out as one of the best fly fishing destinations in the Western United States and no doubt the world.

The Lower Sacramento River is large, to say the least. Wading anglers will not be able to wade across this river. The currents are far too swift and the channels a deeper than 6′. Even at the lowest flows of 3,000 cubic feet per second, it is a river to respect. Wade carefully. Popular wading spots alone the Lower Sacramento from Redding down through Anderson California include the the Sun Dial Bridge or sometimes referred to as the “Posse Grounds”.

Upstream of the Sun Dial Bridge is a nice riffle and tail out perfect for long casts, swinging flies and long indicator drifts. Walk down past the Sun Dial Bridge and look for a path that parallels the river just out back of the Turtle Bay Exploration Park. Keep you eyes open for a steep trail that leads down to a gravel bar. Grossing out to the gravel bar is straightforward at low flows, but if you find water levels are above knee-deep where you access the river, you are either in the wrong spot or the flows are too high. Abandon your plans!!! Heading down to Anderson, there are excellent wading opportunities for anglers who are willing to walk downstream and past the river bend to the south. I wish

I could provide a map of all the great wading spots to be found along the Lower Sacramento, but really, unless there’s a hatch happening and rainbow trout are on the surface feeding, most wading endeavors are futile at getting your flies in front of any rainbow trout. Mainly due to the swift, smooth transitioning flow of the water. Not a freestone where there are pockets or pools to dunk your flies into. Rather the rainbows hold below gravel transitions, just under swifter currents. Typical indictor or high-stick/short-line techniques are unlikely to produce. Spey rods or switch rods have a better chance. With the exception of a good hatch that can bring rainbows into the slower shallow gravel bars, wading is over all, not the recommended approach to fly fishing the Lower Sacramento River.

Hands down, the best way if via drift boat with an experienced captain at the oars. To maximize your enjoyment and success on this magnificent river, a fly fishing guide is an invaluable companion. In this article, we will explore the reasons why a guide is essential and delve into the captivating world of rainbow trout that call the Lower Sacramento River their home.

Why a Fly Fishing Guide is a Must On The Lower Sacramento River:

  1. Local Expertise: The Lower Sacramento River stretches over 100 miles, and its vastness can be overwhelming to a newcomer. Just the 60 miles of water between Redding, Anderson, and culminating in Red Bluff is complex. Many of the best spots are featureless o the surface. Reading the water isn’t enough to ensure you are indeed fishing the best water and also spending the most time actually fishing the best water at any given time of day. A knowledgeable fly fishing guide possesses invaluable local expertise and intimate knowledge of the river’s nuances. They know the best fishing spots, the seasonal hatches, and the feeding patterns of the trout. With their guidance, you can significantly increase your chances of success, catching more fish and making the most of your time on the river. Hire a guide who is on the water daily, at least 5 days a week.
  2. Tailored Instruction: Fly fishing can be an intricate and technical pursuit. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced angler, a guide can provide personalized instruction to suit your skill level. They can teach you casting techniques, help you choose the right flies, and provide valuable tips on how to read the river’s currents and locate trout. With their guidance, you can refine your skills and enhance your overall fishing experience.
  3. Safety and Conservation: The Lower Sacramento River is a dynamic ecosystem with fast-moving currents and potential hazards. A fly fishing guide ensures your safety on the water, particularly if you are unfamiliar with the river’s specific challenges. Moreover, they emphasize responsible fishing practices, such as catch-and-release, to preserve the river’s delicate ecosystem and maintain its healthy trout population.

Rainbow Trout of the Lower Sacramento River:

The Lower Sacramento River is renowned for its exceptional rainbow trout fishery. These trout, known for their beauty and strength, thrive in the river’s cold and fertile waters. Growing to impressive sizes, rainbow trout in this region often exceed 20 inches and provide thrilling fights for fly anglers.

The river’s robust insect population sustains the trout throughout the year, resulting in their healthy growth and vibrant colors. From early spring to late fall, the river experiences various hatches, including mayflies, caddisflies, and stoneflies, attracting the attention of the hungry trout. This abundance of aquatic insects presents anglers with countless opportunities to match the hatch and entice these magnificent fish to strike.

Why the Lower Sacramento River is the Best Fly Fishing Destination:

  1. Year-Round Fishing: Unlike many other rivers, the Lower Sacramento River offers fly fishing opportunities year-round. Thanks to a constant flow of cold water from Shasta Dam, the river maintains a consistent temperature, providing an ideal environment for trout throughout the seasons. This makes it a prime destination for anglers seeking a year-round fly fishing experience.
  2. Incredible Size and Numbers: The Lower Sacramento River boasts an impressive population of rainbow trout, both in terms of size and quantity. The river’s nutrient-rich waters support a healthy food chain, leading to robust trout growth. Anglers have the chance to catch trophy-sized trout, as well as experience the thrill of hooking into multiple fish during a single outing.
  3. Scenic Beauty: Fly fishing on the Lower Sacramento River is a feast for the senses. Surrounded by breathtaking landscapes, you’ll be treated to stunning views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, lush forests, and picturesque meadows. The tranquil ambiance and the opportunity to commune with nature make every fishing excursion a memorable and rejuvenating experience.

Fly fishing the Lower Sacramento River between Redding and Anderson, California, is an angler’s dream come true. With its abundance of rainbow trout, stunning scenery, and year-round fishing opportunities, it truly stands as one of the world’s premier fly fishing destinations. To make the most of your experience, enlisting the services of a fly fishing guide is highly recommended. Their local expertise, tailored instruction, and commitment to safety and conservation will ensure that your time on the Lower Sacramento River is both rewarding and unforgettable.

So pack your fly rod, tie on a few flies, and prepare for an adventure of a lifetime on this remarkable river.