Northern CA Freshwater Fishing Report

American River opener — pretty darn good

BY JIM JONES/WON Staff WriterPublished: Jan 03, 2012

RANCHO CORDOVA — The salmon spawning area on the American River, closed to fishing since Nov. 1, reopened to pretty good reviews on Sunday and flows that were just about ideal at 1,750 cfs.

To be sure, far more folks went home without a bite than hooked fish, but, that’s the way it almost always goes in steelhead fishing. A few anglers, on the other hand, experienced multiple hookups, some fish weighing up to 10 pounds. Fishing pressure was moderate between driftboats and bankies.  

Some of the more popular fishing spots were at the lower end of Nimbus Hatchery property, Sailor Bar and Upper Sunrise. Fishing pressure lessened the farther you went downstream. Waders drifted nightcrawlers, roe, and swung Blue Fox spinners and Little Cleos. Fly fishers swung streamers like leeches, brindle bugs, and skunks -— anything with black and orange in it was a good bet if swung in front of the nose of a steelhead. Other fly fishers dead drifted nymphs under indicators.  

Driftboaters backtrolled Hot Shots and Brad’s Wigglers, and fly fished or drifted roe or nightcrawlers.

Anglers fishing for steelhead in the newly opened section of the river typically experience pretty good success the first few days of the season, but then steelheading slumps for a few weeks as fish head to the hatchery and the run tapers temporarily. By no means, however, will true steelheaders stay home.  They know the game. Steelhead aren’t called “ the fish of a thousand casts” for nothing.  

The run typically builds again in February and continues into March and even later.

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