American River fly fishing guides

The American River is gem in the heart of California’s Capital. Only a short drive from the San Francisco Bay Area- the American River provides quality year-round fly fishing for a plethora of desirable species.

American River Steelhead can be quite productive.We love finding chrome in our back yards!

The American has year round fly fishing options including trout, steelhead, shad and striper. This backyard fishery is

If you would like to learn more about the American...keep reading. Or, Call (530)242-4122 or (707)287-2939 for up to datefishing reports, current river conditions and information on experiencing enjoyable and memorable fly fishing for yourself. Dates fill up quickly for many of our offerings so don't delay. You may also email us at, or fill out our Online Trip Request Form.

Seasons on American River

Spring (March, April and May)-

Spring on the American River boasts opportunity for multiple species of fish. In March the (often large) Eel River strain of winter steelhead are still in the system. At that point what are often referred to as “bluebacks”- 3 to 5 pound football shaped fired up steelhead make their way up the river. At this time steelhead are often caught on a variety of caddis, attractors, eggs, stoneflies and swung intruder style flies.

The first American Shad of the year start making their way up the American in the Spring and the first fish of the year are generally caught in April or early May. There are opportunities to wade for Shad as long as flows will allow it. While there can be fish around earlier, May 15 marks a good time to be able to reliably catch shad but often there is high water during this time due to snow melt and Spring rain. During high flows fishing with a knowledgeable guide from a drift boat is the best bet for safety and success.

Shad make a yearly run back to the American and provide some remarkable numbers for us!Shad make a yearly run back to the American and provide some remarkable numbers for us!

While there is the possibility of catching stripers in the American year round, spring marks when the better numbers show up as well as more sizeable fish. They will often be keyed in on whatever the hatchery is releasing into the river, sometimes it is smolts so 4-6” long clouser smolt imitations are ideal, and other being when the hatchery releases millions of fry all at once, so throwing very small minnow patterns can be effective. Sometimes you can find boils of the striper actively feeding on the fry and throw your fly into the middle of the frenzy.

A young guest with a nice fish!A young guest with a nice fish!

Summer (June, July and August)-

Shad season really comes into full swing during the first part of June. June is one of the best months year after year to book a shad trip, they can generally reliably be caught unless there is a large spike in CFS to the river. Swinging and stripping on single hand and two hand rods are extremely effective and the most common way to target them but nymphing, and even dry fly techniques at times can be employed to bring them to the net. Shad are an excellent opportunity for beginner fly anglers and kids to catch fish, and also to practice fighting fish on a fly rod.

A healthy American River striper.A healthy American River Summer striper.

As the shad come up the river in bulk the stripers follow behind, eating many of them. Summer on the American is often when the big linesiders are generally caught, and is the best time to book a striper trip. We have both drift and jet boats that can get to the hard to reach areas and really help us find the big ones.

“Half Pounders” or small steelhead can be caught during summer but their runs can vary year to year, it is best to call and check how the run is at any particular time during summer to see if it is worth it. When they are in they are often keyed in on caddis nymphs and dries.

Fall (September October November)-

September usually yields pretty consistent striper fishing but can vary. Once it gets into October and November, the numbers often significantly decline and the Delta or the Sac become better options.

Fall half pounders action can vary from year to year but more and larger winter run fish start showing up in November, but the uppermost section of the river closes for spawning.

Winter (December January February)-

Big Eel River strain winter steelhead are the name of the game in the winter months. While the uppermost section of river is still closed in December, it reopens on January 1st and provides some quality fishing opportunities. We target these fish out of a drift boat as there are no jets allowed this time of year, and indicator nymphing from the boat is extremely effective. There are many quality swinging runs as well where you might get a chrome bright chunker fresh from the ocean to gobble a good swung fly from a single or two handed rod.

Fishing The American River

A drift boat is a great way to access the American River year round. Ample boat ramps and parking areas with a local shuttle service make it optimal. Jet boats are employed by some who don’t want to row or choose to chase striper in the lower, slower sections of the river. People that want to walk and wade for preference or to learn should still do a float trip as the guide can take you from productive section to productive section to make the most of your time wading. The same is to be said for swinging trips, a boat is still a vital tool that can get you from spot to spot and allow you to fish around some of the islands found throughout the river.

Summer striper fishing can be very productive here close to home.Our guides utilize jet boats to get to the right spots.

If you want to swing then shad and steelhead are the best targets on the AR. If you like to rip and strip streamers then striped bass are ideal. If you want a chance at a trophy steelhead and enjoy indicator nymphing then winter steelhead from a drift boat are right up your alley. The American is a special fishery that is often overlooked since it is in the middle of a big city but provides excellent angling.

American River Fly Fishing Guide Rates

Drift boat trips - Consist of 8 hours of guided fishing and instruction with lunch and drinks provided - $475 (1 or 2 anglers).

Walk and wade trips - Walk and wade trips are available - $450

Half day walk and wade trips are also available upon
request - $350

Jet boat trips Jet boat trips for Striper and or Shad - $550

Standard guided fly fishing trips with Off the Hook endorsed guides include rods, reels, bottled water. In addition we offer a limited supply of boots and waders available at no additional cost! So call now to reserve your guide and gear! Call (530)242-4122(O) or (707)287-2939(C)

Note: California fishing license, Steelhead report card, transportation and Gratuity not included. All inclusive package includes flies, leaders, tippet etc. $50 per boat

Getting here

The American River is accessed off Highway 50 near Sacramento. There are a number of access points including Negro Bar, American River Parkway(Watt Ave), Rossmoor Bar, Ansell Hoffman Park, River Bend Park etc.

Lodging for the American

We would be happy to make suggestions for accommodations within striking distance of the American. From camping, "glamping", and motels to B & B's there are options for just about every taste and budget. It you would like reccomendations please pick up the phone and call us any time (707)287-2939.

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11427 Angler Ave. Whitmore Ca California 96096 | 1.707.287.2939 - Cell 1.530.242.4122 - Office |