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.

North Fork of the American River

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. fishing map – Site with lake maps listed in alphabetical order by region, with extended descriptions of each lake and contact numbers for visitor information and campgrounds.

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.

brown trout, Middle Fork American River, ©Michael WierFly 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.)

Indian Rock Ranch – Camino tree farm offers catch and release fly fishing on the creek that flows through their property, a tributary of the South Fork of the American. Picnic tables, equipment and Larry’s hand tied flies are available. Reservations required.

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.