Winter salmon run starts its first push on the Sacramento River

SACRAMENTO RIVER KINGS STILL ON THEIR WAY – Matt Fields of Ripon with a 26-pound Sacramento River king salmon with guide Kirk Portocarrero on a Flatfish


REDDING –The beginning of the winter salmon run appears to have started in the Sacramento River system. Numbers are still relatively low and the water is still stained, but guides fishing from Redding to Red Bluff and the Knights Landing stretches of the river are picking up some fresh chrome. There have also been a few of the drift boats fishing the Redding stretch, and they are reporting some decent trout numbers, but that side of the fishery remains slow.

Jeff Goodwin of Jeff Goodwin’s Guide Service has been fishing the upper sections of the river, and he is once again pulling some nice fish. He said, “The kings have arrived in the areas we’re fishing now, and there’s more on the way.  We’ve seen our first real increase in salmon numbers this past week and should see a steady improvement up until the season closes at the end of December.  Bright king salmon have been caught in the Sacramento Metro area this past week and most of the fish moving through the lower river now are headed to Coleman Hatchery and to the spawning grounds above Anderson.  We’ve had some tough days for salmon fishing in November, but we’re getting a few shots at kings every day now.  Most of our kings are caught back trolling plugs, but we’re getting a few on bait as well.  With the river water finally clearing a bit, conditions are good and will stay that way until we see a few inches of rain again sometime in December.”

Kirk Portocarrero of SacRiver Guide Service has been fishing the Redding to Red Bluff section as well and is back in the action again with averages of two to three fish per day as well as a 5-fish day on Friday. He has had a few jacks, but most of his fish have been in the upper teens and 20’s. On Sunday, they landed one that went over 30 pounds. He has been backtrolling Flatfish for most of his fish.


Rob Reimers of Rustic Rob’s Guide Service has been fishing the Knights Landing section of the river and saw some decent overall action there as well. Reimer said, “The early parts of the week started out slow but that we saw some great fish taken towards the end. We have been fishing a Brad’s Killer fish ‘Rob’s Dragon Glow in a size K16 with three fish in the high 20’s and one that went over 30 pounds. All have been fresh with good color.” Reimers has a You Tube Channel on his techniques at

Andy Guibord from Bill Kiene’s Fly Shop in Roseville reported that the American has been producing a few half-pounders and an occasional adult steelhead, but that the flows are very low. There are still some salmon holding in the riffles, and there has been some trout action on the Yuba. The Feather had a good run of steelhead earlier this month, but this has slowed.

Dennis Phanner at Sacramento Pro Tackle report that there was a decent push of fresh fish following the rains, but that the American is now back down below 600 cfs. and that the low water is preventing many of the fish from running up to Nimbus. His perspective was that the stripers are in the Delta, the sturgeon are still in the bay, and the salmon have blown past on their way upriver and that we need a good rain to kick things back into gear!

Shannon at the Fly Shop in Redding reported that the water is still cloudy, but it has cleared enough for some of the drift boats to hit the trout again. Trout action is slow, but there are some decent fish being taken. The Klamath and Trinity remain the best drift boat options at this time. The water has pushed most of the drift boats off the middle stretch of the Sacramento, driving most boats to either the Trinity or the Klamath.