Lower Sacramento River
If you’ve ever walked across the Sundial Bridge and looked upstream, you’ve likely seen at least one fisherman plying the waters of the Lower Sacramento River. The reason for this is that even in Redding, maybe especially in Redding, you have the chance of hooking a rainbow trout over 20 inches.
Thanks to a temperature control device installed in Shasta Dam in the 90s to facilitate salmon recovery, the river flows through Redding (and all the way to Red Bluff) at a consistent temperature range of 51-56 degrees, also ideal for trout. This allows the Sacramento River rainbows the luxury of a year-round growing season, of which they happily oblige. The average rainbow here is 16 inches, and that’s a safe average.
The Sacramento River is open all year and with our temperate climate there are very few days, even in winter, where you can’t get out and do some fishing. Within minutes from anywhere in town you can be on the water. With our long summer evenings it’s easy to squeeze in a 3 hour trip after work. If that won’t work you can head out at lunchtime, or before work. This river is so accessible that it’s easy to take for granted sometimes, forgetting that people travel from all over just to spend a day on this fantastic trout stream.
This an exceptionally productive river with impressive hatches of mayflies and caddis. While primarily a nymphing river, at the right times there can be some excellent dry-fly opportunities. Fall and winter are a great time to wade and explore here. Fish with egg patterns and nymphs behind any spawning salmon you see (the rainbows love to sit downstream and gobble up any eggs and insects that wash loose). Also watch for Baetis mayflies at this time, especially on cloudy days (See fishing report on page 4).
Due to water demands down south, summertime flows are consistently highest, fishing out of a drift boat is the best option at this time. Flows drop in the Fall providing much more access and water for the wade fisherman. Wintertime flows are the lowest of the year and stay that way until flows are increased once again in the Spring.
A few popular wade-in points in Redding are: just above the Sundial Bridge; just East of the Turtle Bay Museum (access via the River Trail); and on the East side of the river by the 44 Bridge (access at the North end of Bechelli). Or you can float through town by putting in at the Posse Grounds boat launch above the bridge and taking out at either the Park Marina or Bonnyview boat ramps.
For additional information, techniques and equipment check out The Fly Shop.
Wildlife abounds along the river. Within sight of the Sundial Bridge I have seen foxes, deer, wood ducks, heron, egret, beaver, and river otter. I’ve even seen an osprey snatch a huge trout next to the Market St. Bridge.
For anybody that hasn’t experienced it, one of the best views of the Sundial Bridge is observed while standing just upstream in the middle of the river, fighting a big rainbow on one of the best trout streams in the nation; right in the heart of Redding.
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