American River Fishing Report

The American River watershed offers fishermen (and fisherwomen) a wide range of experiences, from fly-fishing in the clear streams of the Sierra Nevada to casting for steelhead in the lower American as it flows through Sacramento. The American River contains two main sections. The North Fork and the Lower American River
 
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The North Fork of the American River is designated as a while trout water. Most of the North Fork flows through a deep canyon carved through metamorphic rock. It has a very rugged character with very steep slopes and a narrow bottom. Deep pools framed by sheer cliffs, waterfalls cascading from 40 to 70 feet, and benches, densely wooded with alder and willow are typical of the beauty found in the North Fork Canyon. The fishery is dominated by Rainbow trout, with an occasional Brown trout (the brown trout are usually lunkers!).

Fishing enthusiasts can choose from a number of trails to access the river canyon, most of them dropping steeply from the canyon rim down to the water. While visitation peaks in the summer, primarily driven by hikers/swimmers, late spring into mid-summer is typically the height of the boating season. The highest boatable reach is known as Generation Gap (12 miles), run by only the most experienced Class V boaters, which can only be accessed by a three-mile long walk. The next lower reach, known as Giant Gap (14 miles), is also Class V and is accessed by a two-mile hike down the Euchre Bar Trail. Although overnight camping permits are not required, if visitors want a campfire, they will need to obtain a fire permit.

The Lower American River is a short stretch of river, flowing through the city of Sacramento, is the most heavily used recreation river in California. It provides an urban greenway for trail and boating activities and is also known for its runs of steelhead trout and salmon.
 
Mouth:
Sacramento River
Length:
119 miles
Guide Reports
This is the one river that has recently surprised us. Both myself and Tom recently went out in search of Steelhead, Striper and Shad and we were pretty happy with the outcome. Now ... morewe didn't find any steelhead, but we have the Feather for that, the shad are slowly making there way in, as far up as Gristmil, but the numbers are not great yet, but if you put in your time you will get a few. Give it another week or so and shad fishing should be really good. With the nice high flows, this should be one epic shad run, nothing like hooking 20,30 even 40 fish in just a few hours, and the fight is nothing but incredible. Now lets talk about the Striper fishing. We found many willing stripers to eat our flies from 16" to 7lbs, with many grabs, some nice ones to the boat and many big ones seen swimming around. Even though its "NOT STRIPER TIME" yet, now is the time to target these bruisers on the fly before it gets to crowded. We are using 8wt rods throwing 350gr striper lines and our special clousers to get the job done. Want to get into some fishing without the drive for fish that pull like Mack trucks, look no further than the American River. Dates are already filling up in June for shad and striper trips, and with very few days in May, time to think about your next trip.
Fishing Water Report:
Date:
Thursday, 5 May, 2016
Fishing Trips
  • Expert guide
  • Streamside lunch for full day trips
  • Snacks and beverages
  • All essential equipment needed for the day
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 ... morethe 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.

-Brian-
Destination:
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