Northern CA Freshwater Fishing Report

American River Hatchery full of salmon – steelhead numbers increasing

BY JIM JONES/WON Staff WriterPublished: Dec 06, 2011

RANCHO CORDOVA — While reports of fishing success have been few and far between in the open area of the American river downstream of the salmon spawning closure below the power lines crossing the river at Ancil Hoffman Park, there clearly have been lots of salmon and steelhead passing by the few anglers trying for them, judging by the holding pen and ladder at Nimbus Hatchery.


This WON staffer toured the hatchery last week, and the holding pen was stuffed with salmon, quite a few of them still in very nice condition. That was impressive enough, but what really caught my attention was the number of steelhead mixed in with the salmon. Most of the fishing effort lately has switched to steelhead, and the results haven’t been all that promising. The number and size of the steelhead in the holding pond and even those observed coming up the ladder while I was there was quite encouraging for the upcoming season starting on Jan. 1, when the salmon spawning areas reopens to fishing.


At the same time, fishing pressure continues to be quite heavy above the fish screens, and there definitely have been quite a few salmon that have been able to get through the screens, which is made up of individual rods (pickets) and capped in groups to hold them close to the bottom. DFG personnel said it is highly unlikely that the caps had been removed and pickets lifted, allowing fish to get through. 


However, what personnel often find in their frequent inspections of the screen to remove dead salmon  that have drifted onto it — 7,000 salmon were removed from the upstream side of the screen last year — is that someone or ones  bend the pickets apart to let  fish get through. What this writer also observed is that some of the rods are shorter than others, and can easily be lifted 6 inches or more so the tops of the pickets fit under the cap, producing a gap at the bottom allowing fish to get underneath. If the top of the rod is somehow held in place under the cap, the gap at the bottom would go unnoticed. 


Plans are in place to replace the fish ladder and screens and move the ladder to the base of the dam on the southwest side of the river. Problem solved, although that would mean the end of fishing above the old fish screen location. However, those plans are on hold because of budget cuts.