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Lower American River
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Updated - 2/23/24

Scroll down to links for up to the minute Stream Flows,
Lodging Information, Map and Fishing Regulations


Current River Conditions: 6,200 CFS (2/23/24 @ 1:45 pm)
Fishing - Fair: Flows have come up to the point that wading in some spots is very tough and perhaps dangerous. Noticed that the island at Watt Ave. is covered. Wading the river's channels may be a little easier plus the slower water might act as a refuge for the fish.  Most of the steelhead are going to be between  Riverbend Park and the Sailor Bar area has the heaviest concentrations of adult steelhead.  Several of the pictures I've seen show bright half-pounder sized fish.  FYI, there are two or three sea lions that have taken up residence at Gristmill/Harrington which has turned off the bite.


   We stopped by the island just downstream from the Sailor Bar boat ramp during my clinic last week and observed several fly fishermen in the usual spot in the flat water upstream from the channel. We didn't see any hook-ups however (we were only there for about a half hour) but we saw several fish either rolling or jumping. 

Most fish are being taken on egg patterns and caddis larva patterns.  


  If you are not sure how to spot a spawning redd please view this video.





Generally Recommended Flies

Swinging - Winter Steelhead: Andy Guibord recommends swinging, Wooly Buggers, Caddis Poopa/olive, Bird's Nest/olive, Slump Busters #10, Zonkers #10, Silver Hilton and Intruders.  If using a two fly set up, make sure one of the flies is an egg pattern. 


On Top-Half Pounders/Smolts:  Cut Wing PMD #18, Hackle Stacker Baetis #18 or #20, Hackle Stacker PMD #18. PMD Parachute #16, Trico Spinner #20, Drowned Trico Spinner #20, Adams Parachute #14,16,18, Elk hair Caddis #14, 16.  #18 Olive Parachute (for BWOs)


Indicator Nymphing-Adult Steelhead & Half-Pounders/Smolts: Bird's Nests #12,#14, Egg Patterns #12, Caddis Poopah #12, #14, Micro Mayfly/olive #18, Rubber Legs/black #8-#14, Prince Nymph #12, #14, SJ Worm/tan #12,

Vinci's "Depth Charge Bird's Nest/olive, natural or black.

Stripers: Clouser Minnows #1 white & turquoise/olive & turquoise/gray & turquoise and yellow & turquoise, white & gray. 

Shad: Bloody Maria's, Firecrackers, American River Pinky, Green Weeney, Andy's Lipstick, Jeff's Jefe Early Riser (new) and more.

See Anadromous Run Chart at the bottom of the page
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About the Lower American River


The lower American River begins near the town of Folsom, CA (yeah, the same Folsom Johnny Cash sang about) where it flows out of Lake Natoma (Nimbus Dam) and travels 24 miles to its confluence with the Sacramento River in downtown Sacramento. 


The riparian flood plane, on both sides of the river, is designated as the American River Parkway, which is one of the largest urban parks in the state.  It’s a refuge from the stress of the adjacent two million person urban area.  With only a short hop over a levee you find yourself in a pristine wilderness that has changed little in 150 years.

The American River hosts several runs of anadromous fish; half pounder Steelhead, winter Steelhead, (smaller and sexually immature fish), Striped Bass, and American Shad.  Half pounder Steelhead appear in September and are generally spread out in the river.  This is not a large run, but provide some fun fishing for these 18 to 20 inch fish. 


The winter Steelhead begin to arrive in December (while the upper half of the river is closed to protect spawning Salmon) and build in numbers until February when they begin to spawn.  Though a good population spawn naturally in the river’s gravel, most fish returning to the river are hatchery fish. 


In April the Stripers begin to show in anticipation to their spawning in May.  They feed on Steelhead. Shad and Salmon smolts that are abundant in the river at that time. 


In late April the American Shad begin to arrive and build in numbers into May.    Shad provide great sport for most fishermen through June though some of them actually hang around through the summer.  Some Shad diehards fish dry flies for them in July.

Hatch Chart
Anchor 1
Only 3 More Days !
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