As far as I can remember in my thirty plus years of being a angler in Northern California, fishing for American Shad. This 2019 American Shad run would rival any of the best years runs I can recall. Dating back into the early 1990’s. When I first started targeting the East Coast transplanted and non native American Shad ( called “Bunker” by East Coast anglers ). My first memories of American Shad fishing take me back to Woodson Bridge on the Sacramento River at maybe five or six years of age. My father who ensured passing on the sport and love of fishing, as was the protocol for outdoor adventuring families across the countries rural communities. Making sure memories were made while fishing, and offering a variety of species to fish for. Showing diversity, and shedding light on the fact that here in Northern California and on the Sacramento River specifically, we have year round fishing opportunities right in our backyard. Always providing action I can distinctly remember the hard fighting Shad tugging on my dads Fenwick fly rod, equipped with a closed faced spinning real. You know, the kind that had a finger trigger release for your index finger. Releasing the spool for casting while holding the line in your index finger. Similar to the traditional and more common open faced spinning real. But held by the index finger on the depression lever rather then the rod itself. Nostalgic to say the least! It wasn’t until the eighth grade when I first started targeting American Shad on my own. Years before driving was a option for transportation to and from fishing spots. The primary means of travel was by bicycle. This is how I found my independence in fishing. As I would ride several miles to the Sacramento River at the mouth of Deer Creek. A place the American Shad gathered by the hundreds, maybe thousands. And still do to this day. My only rule handed down to me by my parents was to be home by dark. Or else! Long before the option of having a cell phone for emergency calls incase of unseen trouble. Something I would never let my children do, as they passed the same age, and time in their own life. How times have changed.
Spending time on the Sacramento River fishing for American Shad is a great way to spend the month and a half prior to the Sacramento River salmon season on the water and catching fish. As well as a tremendous opportunity to scout the hole for the upcoming salmon season. Any changes to the Sacramento River from our extensive winter rains and extremely highly river flows from the winter rain run off. Newly deposited trees or river channel changes can be a rude awakening for vessel navigation that hasn’t previously been checked out. Prior to launching on the opening day of salmon season, in early morning low light conditions. Or the harsh reality you just lost your favorite plug ( Flatfish yakimabait.com or Kwikfish rapala.com ) on a tree that the high winter river flows deposited in your favorite salmon fishing hole. A hole that didn’t have a tree durring last years salmon season. Sacramento River salmon fishing guides kept busy fishing their clients targeting the American Shad get a real-time fishing report. As to the arrival of the fall run chinook salmon in the upper Sacramento River. Generally speaking this is the stretch of the Sacramento River from the Woodson Bridge State Recreation Area http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=459 boat launch near Corning, Ca. Extending up the Sacramento River to the confluence of Battle Creek ( the famous “Barge Hole” ), near Cottonwood, Ca. Battle Creek being the location of the federally owned and operated Coleman National Fish Hatchery https://www.fws.gov/coleman/ . Making the “Barge Hole” a very popular spot to target the King Salmon. Daily fishing charters on the Sacramento River have been witnessing newly arriving salmon, jumping around throughout the day. This giving a pretty good indication of a very positive start to the season, only a few weeks away ( July 16, 2019 ). Any extra time spent on the Sacramento River these next couple weeks is a great way to gain first hand knowledge of the upcoming salmon season. Giving yourself a greater advantage to personal success on opening day.
If you have never fished for American Shad, “you are missing out.” Reports Dave Jacobs of sacramentofishing.com. There simply is no better fishing here in Northern California currently. The local Sacramento River fishing guide goes on to say. Reporting, as far as just catching is concerned there isn’t another species available here in Northern California that offers the same number of fish that will be caught on a daily fishing trip. Not to mention with the tenacity and strength these American Shad put up when on the hook. Daily fishing charters on the Sacramento River, fishing out of the Red Bluff, Ca region of the river are averaging 40 to 50 American Shad per outing. Sacramento River Fishing Guides like Dave Jacobs SalmonSacRiver.com and Mike Rasmussen have been running fishing charters twice a day in some instances. Rasmussen reporting “best in decades.” Fishing Guides and local fishing charters on the Sacramento River will continue to offer these high intensity and action packed fishing trips through the second weekend in July 2019. Still plenty of time to get in on the action by booking a reservation for a fully guided fishing trip on the Sacramento River. Most of the fishing guides are targeting these American Shad in the area of the Sacramento River between Woodson Bridge in Corning, Ca and the Red Bluff Diversion Dam In Red Bluff, Ca. Daily Charters have been leaving at 6:00 am returning by 12:00 noon. You can contact fishing guide and fishing charter owner Dave Jacobs by cell phone at 530-646-9110 or by clicking the salmonsacriver.com link to the website. Dave can also be found and contacted on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/salmon.fishing.guide/?eid=ARBuWAxj7b2n0K7AJ_XDDcQF-JnWUx45g8x-xA21HsMbNBZ_Hd0KbT0aV9JZQ8_PRFmR9heYrNzbe3gp
If you are more the “DIY” angler, and are looking for some bank action. A parent that wants to take their kid out fishing. Or a boat owner that can only venture out on the Sacramento River occasionally, and finds it hard to stay on top of the “bite”. The downtown Red Bluff, Ca area has a good number of American Shad living right in city limits. The bottom of the gravel bar at the City Park boat launch has had a solid school of American Shad staged up and waiting to spawn. Easily accessible from the bank or by anchoring a boat off shore, independent anglers may find great success here. In a free and public place. As far as tackle goes, I’m pretty old school. A couple split shot or a small egg sinker, above a barrel swivel. Three foot long, 6 pound test leader, with a red jig head, and chartreuse body jig. Then cast, drift, twitch, jig, or put it in the pole holder ( pole holder only applies to boaters, bankies never stop casting and drifting ). Doesn’t really seam to matter what you do as long as you are around the shad. They bite well! You will know when you are around them when you catch one. Sounds logical right? What I’m saying is if you arn’t catching, cast in different direction, add or remove weights, twitch or dead drift, something other then what wasn’t working previously. If you are on the bank fishing and lacking success I would suggest making several 12 o’clock cast, letting your jig drift downriver almost back to the shore. If you have no success, take a few steps down river and repeat the process until you hook up. Where you catch one American Shad there are many others with it. Period! Good luck out there if you make it out on your own. Reynolds Ranch & Farm Supply, aka “The Loft” reynoldsranchandfarmsupply.com in Red Bluff, Ca will have any tackle needs covered for anglers needing “Shad darts” or weights, leaders, or bait. Remember to respect other anglers on the river, and remember we share common ground. Or water in our case! The image below has a marker, and a link for direction, to the location mentioned in this paragraph. In reguards to a productive, public, Shad fishing spot that is easily accessible.
Mike's Fishing Guide Service for Sacramento River fishing targeting King Salmon, Striped Bass, White Sturgeon, American Shad and Rainbow Trout. The Best Sacramento River Salmon Fishing Guide and Striped Bass Fishing Guide on the Sacramento River.
Shad fishing video from the Sacramento River on June 22, 2019. Sacramento River fishing guide Mike Rasmussen does a quick “twitching for shad” demo.