Sacramento River in Heart of Salmon Season

By: Mike Bogue

Back in the spring forecasters expected a poor salmon run on the Sacramento River. However, there’s been fair number of fish in the Upper Sacramento River since August and we’ve been catching fish daily since. Fishing hasn’t been red hot for everyone. Meanwhile, anglers are catching fish daily. I expect this pattern will continue through October and into November.

We are still seeing fresh fish daily, which tells me that salmon are migrating up the river in numbers. It’s been good and I’ve been getting limits daily, but there’s not very many people fishing, which has made it nice for guides. I would say on a normal day we are hooking between 10-15 fish and landing somewhere between six to eight. Clients are happy with that.


What’s been interesting is there’s been a bunch of two-year old fish in the river, which supposedly is a positive indicator for next year’s run. This many jacks in the system normally lead to a great following year. We’ve been one bite away from a big one every day, but the reality is most of the salmon we’ve caught this year have been between 10-12 pounds. We’ve weighed one 40-pound salmon this season, so there are large salmon around, but we aren’t catching monsters daily.

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We never really had high flows this season, which is crazy considering how much water we had in the spring. Lake Shasta is still about 40 feet from full pool, which is extremely high for the fall. The Sac is running about 8,000 right now. To be honest, I think a lot of our Sacramento River fish are going into the Feather River instead because there’s higher flows and colder water over there.


There are fish throughout the entire system, but the most consistent action seems to be on the upper river. The bite seems to be best from Balls Ferry to Red Bluff. The bite has been best early. The first hour before sunrise has been our best producer although we have caught fish throughout the day.


This year, we’ve had a strong plug bite. I’ve been dragging Natural Fire Brine sardine wrapped silver and chartreuse T-55 Flat Fish fished on 50-pound P-Line braid with a 40-pound P-Line fluorocarbon leader. When I run downriver we’ve been back bouncing roe. I’ve been running Red Fire Brine roe mixed with Red BorX O Fire and fishing it on a 1/0 Eagle Claw Lazer Sharp hook. I’ve been fishing the eggs in slower holes where there isn’t as much current.


Editor’s Note: Mike Bogue operates Mike Bogue’s Guide Service. For more info on his guided Sacramento River salmon trips please visit or