It seems like its a bit early for a multi day storm system to be rolling through Shasta County, but I guess a little rain this time of year never hurts, or does it? Typically, the section of the Sacramento River below Battle Creek in Cottonwood, Ca. would be loaded with King salmon this time of year. In my experience, only two things will change this at this point in the season. First, salmon are very keyed in to their environment, and when it rains, its like the salmon get a green light to move up stream to their spawning grounds. The second thing that would create a situation where there just aren't very many salmon in the river would be due to low numbers of returning salmon. Well, this year we experienced both of these things and its left most salmon anglers and fishing guides alike, shaking their heads in disappointment.
The first rains of the season a few weeks ago sent most of the salmon that had populated the Sacramento River near the Barge Hole, up into the low reaches of Battle Creek and stacked at the base of the ladder into Coleman National Fish Hatchery. Prior to the rains, there were only about a dozen salmon at Coleman, but that rainfall we did get pulled an estimated 3,000 salmon out of the Barge Hole and other holes below, up into Battle Creek where they remained out of reach for salmon anglers on the river. It was thought that there may be more fish in the system below and that the loss of the 3,000 salmon in the river would quickly be replaced by fresh salmon moving up river. Well, that didn't really happen as was hoped and King salmon fishing in the area really took a nose dive.
The next two weeks were a grind, and although some salmon were being caught daily, the hopes for some appreciable numbers of salmon to settle into the Barge Hole quickly dwindled. So, that brings us up to current day conditions and with the arrival of the first series of significant rain storms in the area this weekend, it is expected that any remaining salmon headed for Coleman will be headed there in a hurry and any salmon that were laying in the holes below Battle Creek will surely be gone. I've personally cancelled all of my remaining salmon trips until late November when we will start to see the "late fall" run salmon in decent numbers. Currently, I just don't believe there will be enough salmon available for my clients to catch on a daily basis. After all, the main reason people hire my services is so that they can not only enjoy a day on the water, but they can also have a reasonable chance of catching a fish.
Its pretty clear now what has happened to our 2016 Coleman salmon, but thats a subject that will best be addressed when the season is officially over and the data is collected and documented for release. All is not lost at this point though and there are still some opportunities to catch some wild and hatchery origin Sacramento River steelhead from Redding to Red Bluff. Anglers are catching steelhead drifting egg beads, roe, and glow bugs through the shallows. It can be very productive steelhead fishing up here this time of the year and when the rains subside and the river starts to drop, thats where you'll find me! Who knows, there is always a chance you'll hook a straggler King salmon still too!