Copyright 2013 James Marsh
Fly Fishing Guide for the Upper Sacramento River California
The Upper Sacramento River actually begins as two tiny streams that flow into Lake
Siskiyou. This is in reality, the only freestone section of the Sacramento River in the
sense that everything else lies below and downstream of a dam. The river really
begins below the Lake Siskiyou at the Box Canyon Dam and is a tailwater although
many want to call it a freestone stream. The river flows for thirty-eight miles into
The entire river is closely parcelled with Interstate 5 and is accessible from almost any
exit. In addition, all but the upper few miles of the river are closely parcelled with
railroad tracks, offering access to most of the entire river. This requires some hiking
but makes it possible to fish just about anywhere on the river.
The uppermost couple of miles in the Box Canyon is in a very narrow canyon that can
be accessed from Ney Springs. Below there, it widens out some. The next access
downstream is at Cantera. This is where the railroad begins to parallel the river.
One problem in fishing the Upper Sacramento River is its clarity. The water is almost
always extremely clear and deceptively deeper than it appears to be. There's a lot of
small brooks and springs that add to the flow between Ney Springs and Densmuir.
This part of the river flows through some very beautiful canyons. They seem to be
rarely fished. From Densmuir downstream to Soda Creek the scenery changes from
remote canyons to a more residential atmosphere. This is a very popular area of the
river to fish. The same setting continues downstream to Sweetbriar.
The Castle Crags State Park is a popular area to fish because it is void of the house
along the river. Conant, Sims Road and Flume Creek Roads provide additional
access in this area.
Within the next few miles, the decline of the Upper Sacramento River flattens out
some and the water becomes smoother. There are several access points along the
river some of which are Shotgun Creek, Pollard Flat, Gibson, La Moine, McArdle
Flats, Dog Creek and Lakeshore near the lake.
During the early part of May, melting snow or the Spring Runoff, raises the water
levels to a point the river become difficult or impossible to fish. The river is usually
takes until the first to the middle of June before it subsides to a fishable level.
During July and August, the hot weather can raise the water temperatures up in the
lower section of the Sacramento River, and you are better off fishing the upper
sections. In September, the water cools down and the action usually picks up.
Most of the upper river consist of pocket water. You have riffles, runs and pools that
give it the appearance of a freestone stream. In effect, considering all the water it
picks up along the way, it is a freestone stream.
The generally accepted methods of fishing in the Spring is to match the hatches.
During the summer, the surface action subsides and nymphing becomes more
popular. High Stickin is the best method to fish the pocket water with nymphs.
Fall is the second most popular time to fish the Upper Sac. There are more hatches,
including one hatch the river is known for - its Fall Caddis.
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