Where is the best trout fishing river in Northern California?

Let’s say one day you start your day by preparing your fishing gear to catch trout. But, you are uncertain which river to look for. Then you remember that you live in Northern California, where you could find numerous pristine rivers and streams. This place is, no doubt, an angler’s best trout fishing river paradise.

It now comes down to the question, where is the best trout fishing river in Northern California? Hailed as “the Nile of the West,” the Sacramento River in Northern California is the best trout fishing river. The Sacramento River is known for water sports, ideal for trout fishing. Its 400 miles of challenging, cold, forage waters are home to wild rainbow trout, steelhead trout, and many other species.

Anglers find ultimate enjoyment while fishing for trout in the Sacramento River. Yet, it’s also essential to bring with you additional knowledge about trout fishing in the Northern California rivers. In this way, you can fish peacefully without violating any rules or disturbing other fish species. Everything you need to know is presented here in this article! 

What are the trout fishing regulations for the best trout fishing river in Northern California?

Anglers should always follow the fishing regulations handed down by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The regulations that are mentioned below cover all-year-round fishing for all species, including trout, in California.

Fishing License

This is a must-have for anglers before fishing. If you are over 16 years old, you are required to have a California state fishing license. You can get one through an online application, from a licensing agent, or any certified retailer. In doing so, you can fish any time of the year as your fishing license is valid only for one year.

Fishing Limits

You will receive a handbook from The California Department of Fish and Wildlife regarding fishing and bag limits. Many places in Northern California have restricted fishing completely. Besides, other locations may only permit trout fishing during limited hours. Either an hour before sunrise or an hour after sunset. 

The limits on trout may vary based on the area. That’s why anglers must identify limitations for the specific body of water being fished. There are some instances wherein the place’s bag limit for trout is zero. But, you can still fish as long as you release your catch unharmed right away.

Certain species may also require report cards. Some waters have their restriction on fishing methods and gear. Regulations change every year; that’s why anglers must always stay updated. 

What are the best baits to use for trout fishing in northern California rivers?

Before hitting the river, you must check the local fishing regulations first. This is a way of ensuring that the bait is legal for the river you’re fishing.

Freshwater live baits are less expensive as compared to lures. You must also present your bait properly to attract the fish effectively. Remember, it must look most natural to the fish. The best baits depend on the season of the year and the time of the day. So, you must at least have five trout baits prepared before hitting the river.

Trout are more likely attracted to worms, recognizing them as a nutritious food source. That’s why many anglers can attest that worms are the best and most well-known trout bait. Among these worms are the dew worms, which are the largest and so popular at tackle stores.

Best Baits for Trout Fishing on Northern California Rivers

1. Dew worms can be quite fat, also ranging from five to ten inches long. If the dew worms are too big for the trout, anglers often break them in half or three or four pieces.

2. Garden worms are similar but only smaller than dew worms. These are also easy to get and are the perfect size baits for small and large trout and steelhead. There are also plastic worm imitations available, and you can buy them on Amazon. Plastic worms work well in moving waters as they stay on the hook better after being cast. 

3. Fish eggs, also known as roe bags, trout eggs, or salmon eggs, also work well as trout bait. There are also plastic and artificial eggs available on Amazon. You can choose from single plastic eggs, plastic roe sacs, gulp single eggs, and trout dough.

4. Grubs are harder to find, but they are also a great choice. You can place wax worms, maggots, grubs, and mealworms on a hook. Since these are harder to find, there are imitations available on Amazon. The best choices are Berkley PowerBait Power Wigglers, Lil Hellgrammites, and The Savage gear plastic Nymph.

5. Crayfish, whether live or artificial, are great baits to catch trout too! Likewise, artificial crayfish are much easier to store. Now, you may not like leeches, but these bloodsuckers are well-loved by trout. Many tackle stores often sell leeches; and, you can also buy artificial ones on Amazon.

Additional Tip: If you’re fishing during the summer, grasshoppers and crickets are wise choices! You can either drift them below or on the surface. Of course, artificial crickets are available on Amazon

What are the best lures for trout in northern California rivers? 

There are a variety of factors anglers must consider in terms of choosing the best lures for trout. Among these factors is the color of the lures, which depends on the conditions and the fish’s mood. Most anglers prefer the silver color followed by gold, black, white, and orange.

The most popular lures are the spinners. These attract and catch trout through vibrations, the flash, and the movement that makes trout so eager to eat. You can choose spinners from fished deep or shallow. Spinners can also be fast or slow.

You might be wondering if you can tip your spinner with a worm. And the answer is simply no. Many anglers would say it’s a useless tactic as it can make the spinner run poorly. The fish often don’t care about the worm. If you feel more comfortable with this tactic, you are free to do so. Check out these spinners available on Amazon, like the Blue Fox Spinner and the Blue Fox Flash Spinner.

Another option is the spoons that work great in clear water and slow rivers because they don’t function well in faster water. Spoons are preferable because they can be fished fast or slow or in shallow or deep water. On Amazon, you can find the best spoon products like Little Cleo Spoon, Krocodile Spoon, and Eppinger Dardevle Spoon.

More often than not, some anglers add either a worm or a grub to the hook of the spoon. Yet, this method doesn’t always improve hookups. 

You can also opt to use hard baits for trout. The crankbaits you will use depend on the speed of the reel and the speed of the current. The best size crankbait for most trout between 8 to 20 inches is two inches. For smaller trout, it’s wise to use 1 to 1.5 inches. Most anglers most often use the Kwikfish lure

The second best is the Flatfish lure. This is most often used for more aggressive trout during warmer conditions. But, it can’t work at fast retrieved speeds. Jigs are also considered an effective lure. The sizes may vary, but the ideal ones are 1/4oz jigs 2 to 4 inches long. Marabou Steelhead Jig AeroJig is available on Amazon. 

What are the best flies to use to catch trout in northern California rivers?

Aquatic insects are the most abundant food source for trout during early and late spring. The best ones are mayflies which are very common in Northern California rivers. The Pheasant Tail Nymph is more commonly used as well as the Hot Spot Pheasant Tail Jig Fly

Stoneflies are the second-best. It is followed by caddis larva and caddis pupa, also known as green rock worms. Besides, you can also imitate bugs like a scud, cress bug, isopod, Walt’s worm. A must-have in every angler’s fly box is the San Juan Worm.

Final Thought

Indeed, Northern California has the best trout fishing river: the Sacramento River. So, while you’re at it, why not enjoy the monster trout you can find in this river! Then you can have both quality time and quality food with both family and friends.

Anglers play a significant role in the waters to enjoy a successful catch. This includes mastering and following the local fishing regulations. It’s essential to remember the things you have learned from this article. So you can catch trout successfully and leave the Sacramento River with brand new discoveries and additional learnings from your experience.