Sacramento River steelhead get Shasta water

Sacramento River - Lower - Redding, CA (Shasta County)

Buddy Holpuch of Bend, Or. hold one of many nice trout he caught with Jeff Goodwin recently.
Photo Credit: Jeff Goodwin's Guide Service

by Jeff Goodwin

The Sacramento River is receiving a boost of water releases from Keswick Dam this week, presumably because of the amount of rainfall the region has received since October.  As Shasta Lake reaches 45' feet below full pool, water managers began to release 10,000 cfs on the 21st from 5,000 cfs which has essentially taken the flows back to the summer time flows we experienced this past year.  This has given the Sacramento River steelhead and resident rainbows plenty of water to thrive in, at least for the time being. Typically in recent years, we would see flows in the 3,500 cfs during the winter months because of the continuing drought. Fortunately, the drought seems to have given way to a few wet winters and the north state is well on its way to a promising recovery.

In the last four years, steelhead and rainbow trout fishing on the Sacramento River for me has taken a back seat to other local fisheries because the water levels in the river have been too low for me to fish out of my big power boat.  Now, with the summer time flows we have this winter, access to fishable water in the Redding area and below is very good.  Because of this extended season, I have continued to run steelhead/trout trips in Redding and my clients continue to catch some very nice specimens.  Back trolling diving plugs continues to be a very productive technique for me and, in general, we are mostly catching bigger fish.  These big steelhead and resident rainbows are very territorial and when you back plugs down into their space, at least half of the time you are gonna get bit.

Savage takedowns are the norm and the fight you get from these fish is downright fun.  Ariel jumps, line burning runs, and barrel rolls at the boat are common tactics for these fish when fighting to throw the plugs. With the barbless hook regulations above Deschutes Rd Bridge, these fish will often throw these plugs before ever seeing a landing net.  More times than not, we land these fish for a quick pic and send them back into the river to fight another day.  Because this is a catch and release fishery, we do indeed get the opportunity and privilege to fight these amazing fish another day.

I don't know how long the Keswick Dam releases will continue at 10,000 cfs, but as long as we have this water, I'm going to take advantage of it.  With water temps sitting at about 50 degrees, I will continue to back troll plugs for these steelhead.  I'm fishing 70' behind the boat, using black, gold, and metallic pink plugs, and I am fishing the seams where fast water meets the slower water.  5'-10' seems to be a consistent depth to find fish now, but that's likely because of the current flows.  Take this information and go try this fishery out for yourself or give me a call to book a trip.  The fishing is not red hot, but good days are common and we always catch some very nice steelhead and trout.

Jeff Goodwin is a full time Northern California fishing guide.  He guides year round for salmon, trout, steelhead, Kokanee, and bass on Northern California rivers and lakes. He fishes many bodies of water in the Redding area, but also guides the Sacramento River and Feather River during certain times of the year. Jeff can also be found on the California coast chasing ocean fresh King salmon and steelhead each year. To learn more about the fishing trips Jeff has to offer, please visit Jeff Goodwin's Guide Service.  You can also find him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, or please feel free to call him anytime at (707) 616-1905.

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