Fishing the American River Watershed

The American River watershed offers fishermen (and fisherwomen) a wide range of experiences, from fly-fishing in the clear streams of the Sierra Nevada to casting for steelhead in the lower American as it flows through Sacramento.

Fly Fishermen love the fishing below Greenwood Creek River Access on the South Fork American early in the morning and in the afternoon try out Chili Bar River Park.

Check out Trout Unlimited for fishing and conservation information on local rivers.

The North Fork of the American River, from Palisade Creek downstream to Iowa Hill Bridge, is designated as a Wild Trout Water by the California Fish and Game Commission. The North Fork American River is also a Federally listed Wild and Scenic River.

Most of the North Fork flows through a deep canyon carved through metamorphic rock. It has a very rugged character with very steep slopes and a narrow bottom. Deep pools framed by sheer cliffs, waterfalls cascading from 40 to 70 feet, and benches, densely wooded with alder and willow are typical of the beauty found in the North Fork Canyon. The fishery is dominated by Rainbow trout, with an occasional Brown trout (the brown trout are usually lunkers!).

More Fishing Resources

Department of Fish and Game – wild trout and catch-and-release –
Site has angling statistics.

Fishsniffer – Great resource for California fishing news and information. You can search for “American River” to see related articles. See also their detailed map of the lower American River with notes about steelhead and striped bass fishing.

Fly Fisherman: American River California – In-depth article from Fly Fisherman magazine by Michael Wier covers multiple stretches of all three forks and the main stem of American River. (Photo left ©Michael Wier.)

Sierra Outdoor Recreation: Fishing – Guide to the best fishing spots on the North and Middle Forks of the American River. Also provides information about several other Sierra rivers.

World Wide Fishing Guide – Guide to fishing world wide. Has pages on California fishing, guides, lodges, trips, trout, salmon and bass, lakes, rivers and ecotours and sightseeing.