Fly Fishing the American River will leave even the most advanced fly fisherman wanting more. That is why a knowledgable American River Fly Fishing Guide will not only educate you on the river sytem and its species, but show you the ins and outs, when, where, why, how and with what. Whether you are swinging for steelhead on the Lower American River or dry fly fishing the South Fork American River, you will be pleasantly pleased with the results.
The American River system is where you can start out fishing the Lower American River for shad, striper or steelhead while wet wading on a summer morning, then go eat lunch, get back on the road shoot up hwy 50 and within 45 minutes, have 30 fish on the South Fork American River fishing drys. Fishing the American River is one that can satisfy any fly fishing crave. The Lower American River is known for its shad, striper, steelhead and salmon runs. Shad start to enter the river in late spring, with some entering as early as April, the fishing starts to pick up in late May and early June, with July being the best. Even though the migration has ended the fishing can be great on those late July summer nights. If you have never fought a shad on a fly rod, I highly suggest it, they don’t call it the poor man’s tarpon for nothing. There are two methods used when shad fishing, one is swinging flys specifically tied for shad, the other is drifting flies under an indicator. Either technique is productive when used properly.
As far as stripers go, there are some resident fish in the river system year round, but can be extremely hard to catch due to the lack of numbers. When the weather warms so does the water as well as the Striper migration. The stripers start entering the river in early April and they are in the river system through September. Your best numbers in the lower part of the river is between April and May. June is a little slower due to the amount of shad that are in the river system and the stripers actively feeding on them, but once the shad are gone the fishing really heats up from late July through August, September and sometimes even October depending on the weather and water conditions. The best technique used for stripers is by stripping or swinging clousers with sink tips, full sinks and shoot head lines.
Now for the Steelhead, half pounders can be year round, but are mostly caught from late summer to spring. They can be caught using many techniques, from swinging to nymphing and even throwing drys. The best months to be on the water for half pounders are August through October along with March April and May. Don’t be discouraged by the word half pounder, this was the original run before the Eel and Mad river strain (winter run steelhead) was introduced in the 70's. These guys can put up a real fight for their size and most half pounders are wild fish ranging from 16-22" some even pushing 5 pounds and they are always full of spunk. The winter run doesn’t start showing up until the beginning of October, this is also peak time for the salmon run. The winter run steelhead that are on the American came from the Eel and Mad River systems, that was introduce by DFG to protect the steelhead population after the dams where e rected. These fish can be caught throughout the length of river from mid October all the way through March, sometimes even April. These fish range anywhere from 5 to 15 pounds. As far as fishing techniques goes, these big boys can be caught with the same techniques used on their half brothers, just scaled up a bit. If you want to get into steelhead and don't want to travel severals hours and possibly get a big goose egg, the American River is where its at. Not only is it our back yard, but we have 30+ years fishing this river system and we know where these fish hold throughout the year. Come enjoy some backyard fishing on a great river like the American river.