Denis Peirce: Sacramento River good fishing spot in drought |

Denis Peirce: Sacramento River good fishing spot in drought

Ed Everhart with a bass caught beneath the I-5 Bridge over the Sacramento River near downtown Sacramento.
submitted by Denis Peirce |

If you intend to go fishing, the two prime ingredients are water and fish.

Water has been our challenge particularly this fall. There still is water in the reservoirs but getting a boat on to the water can be tough.

The Future Pro Bass Tour had a tournament scheduled for Lake Oroville this past Saturday and had to change the location because of the launching problem. The back-up location was the Sacramento River centered on downtown Sacramento.

Normally, I do not consider heading into a population center as a recipe for good fishing, but with current water conditions it is one of the best options available.

Sacramento is on the eastern edge of the California Delta which is the most drought resistant fishery in the state. The Delta is at sea level and has a tidal influence. It does not run out of water.

The Sacramento River combines its flow with the American, Feather and Yuba Rivers. So, if there is any water in the valley you will have some flow in the lower Sacramento.

Local angler Ed Everhart is on the Future Pro circuit and has been pre-fishing the area for the past month.

He rates the quantity and the variety of fish as quite good.

His pre-fishing took him from the river close to the Sacramento Airport, down to Steamboat Slough more than a dozen miles below the Capitol City limits.

During these trips he caught smallmouth, largemouth, spots and striped bass. With the many miles of river as well as back waters and sloughs, the area accommodated the 74 boat tournament field with no problem.

Most bass anglers fish still water lakes rather than flowing water rivers which makes the Delta/river interface a different experience.

Everhart found that one of the prime fishing spots is the junction of the tidal water and the river current. Depending on the stage of the tide and the flow of the river this spot has been fluctuating through the length of Steamboat Slough in recent months.

It moves down to the western delta in a wet winter. The collision of the river flow into a rising tide concentrated the food and the fish.

It is a constantly moving target that can vary by miles over the course of a days fishing.

The other fish-producing spots were obstructions that broke the river current.

Up river, there are rock “wing dams” that were built to prevent erosion of the levies.

Down river, the bass are found behind sunken trees.

Anything that would give the fish a resting spot out of the current and adjacent to the food conveying river flow, were the places to fish.

Last Saturday, the tournament was won with a five-fish limit of 16.12 pounds and the big fish went 4.59 pounds.

The surprising aspect was the by-catch of salmon.

A number of bass anglers who were throwing crank baits along the river, hooked and landed migrating salmon.

This does not happen very often during a bass tournament.

Everhart related a story that occurred at the start of the tournament.

One of the boats heading out at high speed rounded a river bend and hit a submerged tree trunk. The collision flipped the boat upside down.

Everhart came around the bend moments later as the two occupants surfaced beside the overturned boat. One of the anglers had a serious head wound. Everhart called 911 and drove them back to Discovery Park for medical attention.

Everhart did not get his first cast into the water until 10:30 a.m. Despite the handicap, he did place in the middle of the 74-boat field.

If you are looking for an angling location this fall, the Sacramento River near downtown is a good bet.

It does have water.

There are four species of bass as well as salmon in the river. Everhart launched at the mouth of the American River at Discovery Park.

We can avoid the I-80 traffic by taking Highway 20 West to Marysville and going south on Highway 70 to reach Discovery Park.

Denis Peirce writes a fishing column for The Union’s Outdoors section and is host of “The KNCO Fishing & Outdoor Report,” which airs 6-7 p.m. Fridays and 5-6 a.m. Saturdays on 830-AM radio. Contact him via his website at

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