Sacramento River Bows Chomping Natural Color Salmon Eggs

By Mike Bogue | 04/05/2012

Red Bluff – In Northern California there’s a lot of people excited about what’s to come. We are told this year’s salmon run should resemble what we were used to a decade ago. I’m excited, too. But I’m sure not overlooking the great rainbow trout fishing we are seeing right now.

The Sacramento River near Redding continues to yield excellent rainbow trout fishing and we often see a few steelhead mixed in, too. Those steelhead are headed to the Coleman National Fish Hatchery, but we don’t catch them as often as the rainbows, unfortunately.

April, May and into June can be prime trout fishing months, even while most guys are targeting stripers downriver. What happens is we have a run of winter run salmon that spawn in May and June. And, when those salmon get ready to spawn the trout go into an aggressive feeding mode. The salmon tend to spawn in the riffles and the trout rest just below, picking off loose salmon eggs as they tumble through the system.

This is one of my favorite times of the year to fish. However, it needs to be approached somewhat different than in the fall when our fall salmon spawn. The winter run salmon spawn in deeper water. You can’t always see these winter runs because of this, but veteran anglers know they are there.

Regardless of what species are target, we are always taught to match the hatch. Salmon eggs are the rainbow’s food this time of year in the Sac. While rainbows can be spread out throughout the water column, I’ll be fishing right below the riffles. There’s not as many of these salmon as in the fall, but there’s a lot of trout below anywhere you find salmon.

Normally, if you find the salmon you can’t make a drift without getting bit. Sometimes you can hook three or four each drift. They tend to average 14-18 inches, but there are some 12 and some to 25 inches. Most of this takes place over a 30-mile section, from Redding to Red Bluff.


There’s many ways to imitate these eggs tumbling down the Sacramento River. Glo Bugs and yarn flies are two of my favorites. However, my top bait is a Glo Bug with a Pautzke Orange Deluxe salmon egg on the hook. This gives you the salmon egg look and the smell of the real thing. There’s no bait better than a real salmon egg on your line.

To rig this I use a slinky for weight, 6# P-Line fluorocarbon leader and a Glo Bug. I’ll cast the bugs below riffles where salmon are spawning or have spawned.


To say action can be unforgettable would be an understatement. One night last fall (when salmon were spawning) I had a day off from guiding and asked my daughter if she wanted to catch some rainbows and be late for school (she gets all A’s). Obviously, she said yes and the next morning we fished one riffle, she landed 21 rainbows and made it to school before 1st period was over! We used the Glo Bug Pautzke setup and hammered them.

In addition to trout this setup works well for steelhead in low clear conditions or when you are out of roe. I also use it under a float. For steelhead, on the other hand, I use 10# P-Line fluorocarbon leader, 12# – 15# P-line mainline and an Eagle Claw #4 Lazar Sharp Hook in the egg loop. It’s best to tie in a #12 Corky with your favorite color yarn. In addition, when using this setup with a float I put a bead in the egg loop.

This method is bound to catch bows and steelies, but if you aren’t getting bit feel free to alter the color combination. It’s ok to switch out other Corky’s (beads), yarn combinations and also substitute Yellow Jackets, Orange Deluxe (my favorite) or Premium salmon eggs.

To learn more about Mike Bogue’s Sacramento River trout trips please visit