Lower American River
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Updated - 5/22/22 

Scroll down to links for up to the minute Stream Flows,
Lodging Information, Map and Fishing Regulations


Current River Conditions: 1490 CFS (5/22/22 @ 4:57 Pm) Scroll down for a link to up to the minute flows. Water is clear.

Fishing - Good and Improving: The guides are crushing it out there as they have the advantage of moving around until they find a school of fish.  The bankers are having it tougher though those who know the river are doing quite well.  The secret is to start exploring.  The Paradise Beach area has been productive for a few fishermen that have taken the time to try different spots.  The majority of the Shad that are being caught are small males so the more successful fishermen have been doing well with #14 and #16 Perdigon flies in Red, Olive and Silver.  We are getting reports of some Stripers but no one is really crushing it yet.  This unusually cool spring is delaying things right now. 


For those of you who are either new to the area or will be wade fishing for Shad for the first time this year, the first place they show up is at Paradise Beach which is approximately a mile downstream from CSUS (Sac State). From there they will gradually move up the river to the Sailor Bar area.  If the river flows drop lower than they are right now, most of the fish will stay in the lower river. 

For Steelhead/misc trout: Fish flies that mimic local AR bugs such as BWOs (#18 Micro Mayflies/olive, or Pheasant Tails), Caddis Larva (ie Fox's Poopah) or Egg patterns.  Also productive will be swinging small streamers such as Egg Sucking Leaches, Intruders and Slumpbusters, Hobo Spey's etc.  Any pattern with some red on it will get the attention of fish. 

For Shad: Popular flies are, Ching's Bloody Maria, Ching's Firecracker, Andy's Lipstick, AR Pinky . . .

Check our online catalog to see all of the patterns we have available

Generally Recommended Flies
Click here to go to our Fly Catalog

Swinging - Steelhead: Andy at the shop recommends swinging, Wooly Buggers, Caddis Poopa/olive, Bird's Nest/olive, Slump Busters #10, Zonkers #10, Silver Hilton and Intruders. In this off color water.  Andy recommends stringing a small bright red bead on the tippet so that it rests on the eye of the hook.  


On Top-Half Pounders/Smolts:  Cut Wing PMD #18, Hackle Stacker Baetis #18 or #20, Hackle Stacker PMD #18. Trico Spinner #20, Drowned Trico Spinner #20, Adams Parachute #14,16,18, Elk hair Caddis #14, 16. 


Indicator Nymphing: Bird's Nests #12,#14, Egg Patterns #12, Caddis Poopah #12, #14, Micro Mayfly/olive #18, Rubber Legs/black #8-#14, Prince Nymph #12, #14, SJ Worm/tan #12,

Vinci's "Depth Charge Bird's Nest/olive, natural or black.

Stripers: Clouser Minnows #1 white & turquoise/olive & turquoise/gray & turquoise and yellow & turquoise, white & gray. 

Shad: Bloody Maria's, Firecrackers, American River Pinky, Green Weeney, Andy's Lipstick, Jeff's Jefe Early Riser (new) and more.

See Anadromous Run Chart Below!
Lower American River
Kiene's Fly Shop
River Flows-Real Time

Fishing Regulations
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About the Lower American River


The lower American River begins near the town of Folsom, CA (yeah, the same Folsom Johnny Cash sang about) where it flows out of Lake Natoma (Nimbus Dam) and travels 24 miles to its confluence with the Sacramento River in downtown Sacramento. 


The riparian flood plane, on both sides of the river, is designated as the American River Parkway, which is one of the largest urban parks in the state.  It’s a refuge from the stress of the adjacent two million person urban area.  With only a short hop over a levee you find yourself in a pristine wilderness that has changed little in 150 years.

The American River hosts several runs of anadromous fish; half pounder Steelhead, winter Steelhead, (smaller and sexually immature fish), Striped Bass, and American Shad.  Half pounder Steelhead appear in September and are generally spread out in the river.  This is not a large run, but provide some fun fishing for these 18 to 20 inch fish. 


The winter Steelhead begin to arrive in December (while the upper half of the river is closed to protect spawning Salmon) and build in numbers until February when they begin to spawn.  Though a good population spawn naturally in the river’s gravel, most fish returning to the river are hatchery fish. 


In April the Stripers begin to show in anticipation to their spawning in May.  They feed on Steelhead. Shad and Salmon smolts that are abundant in the river at that time. 


In late April the American Shad begin to arrive and build in numbers into May.    Shad provide great sport for most fishermen through June though some of them actually hang around through the summer.  Some Shad diehards fish dry flies for them in July.