The Sacramento River below Shasta
Dam – known as the Lower Sacramento,
or “Lower Sac” – has to be rated as among
the best tailwater fisheries in the country. Its wild rainbows are
big, tough, and plentiful, and the river’s controlled flows,
combined with northern California’s temperate climate –
result in near-optimum fishing conditions nearly every day of the
Our guides concentrate on the
16 trout-filled miles between Redding and Anderson, and the
30 red-hot fly fishing miles as the river winds its way toward Red
Bluff. The character of the Lower Sacramento changes dramatically
as it carves its way south through the Central Valley. The upper
sections meander through the city, through parks, below office buildings,
beside golf courses, and through the back yards of residential Redding,
while downstream stretches flow through majestic canyons and designated
wilderness areas. Each of the half dozen float trips cover from
6 to 14 miles during a typical fishing day, and our guides typically
choose the best float for the day based on conditions.
The Lower Sacramento is more
than just a year-round fishery. With varied flows and the
sometimes-ethereal presence of salmon, the Lower Sac can display
many different faces throughout its seasons. To really discover
the river and understand its wild rainbow trout and steelhead, one
must not only see the different sections of river, but also take
advantage of its different seasons. For more
on the different seasons of the Lower Sacramento, click
Fly Fishing the Lower Sacramento River
The Sacramento River was dammed
just north of Redding in the early 40's, resulting in the
formation of Shasta Lake, and the taming of the powerful flood waters
that habitually threatened the rural communities and farmlands of
the Central Valley. Whether by design or as a by-product, this flood
control project guaranteed California agriculture millions of acre-feet
of cheap water which could be utilized for agriculture, irrigation,
and enough hydro-electric power to supply tens of thousands of homes.
At the same time, the Sacramento River Delta began a catastrophic
decline, and one of the most formidable runs of Chinook Salmon in
the world was decimated.
When we opened The Fly Shop©
in 1978, the tail water below the dam, now commonly known
as the Lower Sacramento River, could hardly be considered a quality
trout fishery. The hatcheries were a failure, and the town of Redding
had a population larger than spawning runs of salmon that had once
numbered in the millions.
Then the California Department
of Fish & Game, in a desperate search for a solution
to the decline of the King Salmon hit upon the construction of a
Temperature Control Device (TCD) to extract colder water from the
depths of Shasta Lake and send it downstream. The logic was that
cooler temperatures would enhance successful salmon spawning. In
1992 the TCD was completed, and the Lower Sacramento River near
Redding maintains a consistent temperature today of approximately
56 degrees. These colder flows at first appeared to be working,
as the salmon runs slowly began making a comeback. But the cooler,
more consistent water temperatures have proven to be far more beneficial
to the Sacramento River trout population.
Harry Rectenwald, former DF&G
Fisheries Biologist for the Sacramento River, has explained
that the phenomenal trout fishing that developed on the Lower Sacramento
River after the implementation of the TCD is another (albeit unintentional)
by-product of the cold water: "The growth cycle of resident
trout has been extended by thirty percent." With consistent
water temperatures every day of the year, the resident rainbows
on the Lower Sacramento are able to continue to feed – and
to grow – 100% of the time.
That means the fish can grow
fast, sometimes exceeding their length with girth. The average
size of the rainbows on the Lower Sacramento is 16 inches, while
fish over 20 inches are relatively common, and they are all fat
and healthy. These trout are of trophy proportions, and growing
up in the haughty currents of the Lower Sacramento River they are
strong fish and full of fight.
What's more, cooler water extending
further south in the river has created viable trout habitat for
an extended 50 miles or so. This means fly fishermen on the
Lower Sacramento River are frequently able to spread out and avoid
crowds. Even on the busiest of days, it is easy to find yourself
catching huge trout on the river, without another soul around.
Our Lower Sacramento guide
staff is outstanding! Several have grown up on this river, learning
how to fly fish and navigate the river from a young age.
If you are planning a fly fishing trip to Northern California, our
guide staff can turn that average fishing day into a great trip.
These river guides don't just provide the landed fish, they also
provide an experience to remember.
To make a reservation,
please give us a call at 800-669-3474 during business hours
any day of the week. We can give you the answers you need or the
detailed explanations to questions you might have, or check on guide
availability and confirm your guide reservation in minutes.
If you prefer to correspond
on-line simply e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
and we will respond promptly.