How to Salmon Fish on the Sacramento River

How to Salmon Fish on the Sacramento RiverThe Sacramento River in Northern California, often called the Sac, is renowned for chinook (king salmon) fishing action. Kings range from 10 to 60 lbs., although 35 to 40 lb. specimens are more common. Anglers use fly rods and spincasting equipment to catch these mighty, delicious fish. With 384 miles of riverbanks to fish from, you'll not soon run out of angling locations to hunt for salmon along the Sacramento River.


Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

How to:

Things You’ll Need:
  • California fishing license
  • Bay Delta fishing stamp
  • Rod and reel
  • Lures, tackle, bait
  • Guided charter boat (bait and equipment typically provided)
Step 1
Get a guide to show you the way. Chinook salmon fishing nearly collapsed on the Sacramento River in 2008 and has been making a slow comeback. Guide services are abundant and could make the difference between productive fishing and merely a pleasant day standing by the riverbanks.
Step 2
Troll big spoons and spinners 100 feet behind a boat running about 2 mph to catch chinook.
Step 3
Try "flipping," which is also known as drift fishing. Cast large (at least 3 inches) streamer flies into pools and around slow-moving areas of the river, letting the streamer drift around boulders and rocks where chinook lurk, waiting for a meal.
Step 4
Go jigging for salmon either from a boat or the riverbanks by casting a 1/4 oz. pink or chartreuse jig into the leading edge of pools and areas of slow-moving water. Cast into the front of the pool where the water is flowing into it, then bounce the jig off the bottom.

Tips & Warnings

Fishing regulations on the Sacramento change seasonally and in some years month-to-month, so be aware of the rules before you go.
Chinook salmon runs are no longer what they used to be. More effort and time are required to catch a big salmon on the Sacramento.

Article Written By James Clark

James Clark began his career in 1985. He has written about electronics, appliance repair and outdoor topics for a variety of publications and websites. He has more than four years of experience in appliance and electrical repairs. Clark holds a bachelor's degree in political science.

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