Fishing in Sacramento

Sacramento Fishing Guide

If you like fishing, you’ll find plenty of great spots in Sacramento. The Sacramento River Delta is said to empty about 30% of California’s water runoff into San Francisco Bay. That’s a lot of water fed by rivers and tributaries all loaded with fish. The fish biomass in the Sacramento Valley is measured as having thousands of fish per mile in the rivers and tons of fish per square acre in the reservoirs.

From lakes to rivers to the Delta, you’re sure to find the perfect fishing hole during your visit here. Whether you’re in the mood for salmon or trout, bait up! There’s fish a plenty just waiting to bite.

Sacramento Delta

Endless networks of rivers converge to form the Sacramento Delta, a wild and wonderful wetland. Enjoy discovering the mysteries the Delta offers just as the old miners and settlers did during the Gold Rush.

John Sutter first set sail from San Francisco inland over the Delta waterways in search of land to settle. His early exploration party consisted of three boats and a handful of men. They sailed through lands occupied primarily by Indians and wildlife. It took twelve days to find the entrance of the American River and to land at what would later become Sacramento, the Capitol of California.

Sacramento River Delta
Sacramento River Delta

Within ten years of that historic Delta trip, John Marshall made his famous discovery and the Gold Rush began. Gold Fever struck the nation and a huge migration to California began. Steamboats, paddleboats, and an assortment of barges and riverboats became the preferred method of transportation between San Francisco and Sacramento.

Various systems of levees and dredging over the years transformed the vast marshlands of the Delta into a series of channels and leveed islands that defines the Delta today. Over 1,000 miles of levees currently protect the lands and waterways of the Sacramento Delta, much of which is below sea level. Hundreds of miles of waterways wind their way through the 738,000 acre area which supports critical habitats for fish and wildlife as well as agriculture, communities and recreation.

Sacramento River Delta

You can enjoy the Sacramento Delta at over 100 waterside resorts and marinas, enjoy fine dining and wine tasting. Or better yet, you can get out on the water and go boating, fishing, windsurfing, kayaking, swimming, waterskiing, or house-boating. The Delta offers plenty of camping, bird watching, and more.

The Sacramento Delta spreads across rural lands and while it is close to communities such as San Francisco, Sacramento and Fresno, it is still somewhat of a sleepy, lesser known destination. Touring the Sacramento Delta by boat takes you through historic towns that haven’t changed much since the days of the Gold Rush. Even the mail man delivers mail by boat here.

You won’t find many sandy beaches in the Delta. Often the ones you do find disappear when the tide comes in. A few resorts have private sandy beaches such as Orwood Resort, Lost Isle, B & W Resort and Snug Harbor. Anchoring is allowed in most places without restriction though much of the land along the waterways is private.

You can enjoy boating and RVing the Sacramento Delta year round with prime season being from April through October. The average high of 94.7 degrees in July cools down at night to an average of 58.7 degrees which makes for comfortable sleeping.

The Delta area is home to all kinds of lodging from friendly bed and breakfast inns, houseboats, floating cabins, RV parks, historic hotels, and even a hotel on an old riverboat, the Delta King.

There’s plenty to do when you spend your days floating on this lazy river. There’s wine tasting, fishing, tours, bird watching, golf, sightseeing and more but you may find that just floating is good enough.

Sacramento Delta Fishing

Fishing in the Delta is a year round affair. You’ll find blue gill, bass, catfish, shad, salmon, steelhead, sturgeon, crawdads and much more along the waterways of the Delta. Sturgeon can weigh up to 1300 pounds and can be found in the waters of the Delta from early winter into early summer. Prime areas for finding sturgeon include Mothball Fleet, Suisun Bay, San Pablo Bay, the Rio Vista Bridge, the Isleton Bridge and the Decker Island Entrance to Threemile Slough.

The spring spawning run of striped bass in the Delta is a big producer of lunker-size bass. Try fishing the incoming tide at the “power lines” of the Sacramento River or the Threemile Slough where it empties into the Sacramento River.

Head to the quiet, reedy waters for bluegill fishing in the Delta. The larger bluegill fish prefer the deeper waters during the day but you can find them in the shallows in the mornings and evenings when they feed.

If you’re in the area over Father’s Day, be sure to check out the Annual Crawdad Festival held each year in Isleton. You’ll enjoy munching on the crustaceans and the entertainment all day long.

Fishing in the Sacramento area is bountiful and you can catch incredible fish year-round from the rivers, lakes, and Delta waterways. Marinas and bait shops are numerous. You can bring your own gear or you can charter a fishing boat; you can fish from the shore, bridges or by boat. No matter how you decide to spend your time in Sacramento, plan on spending a few hours – or days – fishing this magnificent watershed.

Sacramento Lake Fishing

Lake Folsom is a fisher’s paradise with fish such as king salmon, rainbow trout, black bass, catfish and bluegill all within its waters. Plentiful marinas and seventy five miles of shoreline offer plenty of room to spread out and find your own secluded spot. Bass fishing is popular here with plentiful large mouth bass, small mouth bass and striped bass in the waters.

Folsom Lake
Lake Folsom

You’ll find trophy sized bass here with the lake’s record weighing in at over sixteen pounds. To find the biggest bass, head to the south side of Anderson Island in the North Fork area of Folsom Lake. Summer time fishing at the lake brings its challenges as the warmer water combined with the crowds drives the fish down deep. If you’re here during the summer months, try fishing in the early morning.

Sacramento River Fishing

As the water temperature cools in fall, the salmon move in to the Sacramento River. From Freemont to Discovery Park, you can fish along the shore or in a boat and catch your limit of Chinook salmon. Sturgeon and catfish are plentiful as well. Other annual runs of fish include steelhead, striped bass and shad. The area between Shasta Dam and Red Bluff attracts large trout and is a great spot for fly fishing and spin fishing. In fact, the Sacramento River is rated as the #2 river in the U.S. for the trophy rainbows found here.

Sacramento River
Sacramento River

Another popular salmon run is in the Feather River with a salmon season from April through October. Steelhead can be fished here year-round however the months from October through March are the best months. Striped bass are salt water fish that spawn in the fresh river waters such as the Feather and Sacramento Rivers. These powerful fish can weigh up to 75 pounds.

Steelhead fishing is best during the months between January and April and striped bass can be found during this time in the deeper areas of the American River. The Yuba River is also a great spot for steelhead and is not heavily fished.

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