Sacramento River Steelhead Fishing Season


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Northern California Steelhead Fishing

In the brisk dawn air we cast the Vicki Ann off and gently glided just above the first steelhead fishing hole. A light fog lay over the river like a thin cotton blanket. The stands of grass along the riverside barely rustled in the quiet morning breeze as we cast our glo-bugs. Drifting down the riffle, my heart pounded in quiet anticipation. Suddenly my line went taut and the pole was almost yanked from my hand. From about 100 feet out, a silver bullet shot out of the water as the steelhead angrily waged its head to spit the hook. “Fish on!” I yelled.

With incredible bursts of speed, the enraged steelhead bolted down river. The reel squealed as yard after yard peeled off almost spooling me. This fish had big shoulders and was muscling line, using the river’s flow to its advantage. I cranked furiously as we followed the fish down stream to keep from spooling out. After an intense 15 minute duel of wits, we had the prize in the boat, a beautiful 12.4 pound buck in brilliant crimson spawning colors.

If not for Ken Hoffman’s skill in keeping with the fish and the blow-by-blow coaching, I would have lost the fish. After years of frustrating trial-and-error steelhead fishing on my own, it’s painfully obvious I should have hired a guide from the start. Not just any guide, but the best steelhead fishing guide I could find.

– Steve Mapua

Nov 10, 2003 – Dean Henderson from Fernley, Nevada, lands a new River Pirate steelhead fishing record. This beautiful spawning male weighted in at 16.02 lbs.
Manny is holding a beautiful 24 inch Steelhead from the Sacramento River.

Sacramento River Steelhead Fishing

A year round fishery on the “Sac”, as locals fondly call the Sacramento River, steelhead fishing peaks in December and lasts till March. The heavy Winter run of up to 35,000 fish is an unparalleled bounty. Who would have thought, “Sacramento River Steelhead Fishing?”

Unlike their King Salmon cousins, the wild steelhead stocks, “natives,” return to the ocean after spawning. To help in keeping the gene pool vibrant, these natural spawners can not be taken. The hatchery stocks which have their adipose fins clipped can be kept.

Beginner or Pro to Steelhead Fishing?

Steelhead trout are hard fighting fish that mix long fast runs and aerobatic leaps. They are extremely crafty and will do most anything to avoid being caught.

It is possible to land a big game fish not knowing any technique. More often, it is due to a lot of luck.

It takes skill and graceful technique to consistently boat an angry steelhead. There is more to it than just pumping and reeling. Like what to do when that slugger goes under the boat, starts wagging its head, or is about to spool the reel. It takes poise to guide the fish to your side of the boat.

If you’re a beginner or a pro wanting guidance, your Pro-guide Ken Hoffman will be happy to teach you the techniques and help you hone your skills.

He can coach you through the fight, from the initial hookup, through the middle and end games. He will teach you how to guide a fish to the waiting net, and improve your hookup to catch ratio.

Beginner or Pro, your guide Ken Hoffman will be happy to coach you through the fight, every step of the way.
Your Master Guide, Ken Hoffman, will be at the boat ready and waiting for you. All the tackle and gear will be prepared for your fishing day.

Sacramento River Steelhead Fishing Guide

The Sacramento River watershed’s constantly changing water levels peak and recede in annual cycles. This flux is both natural and man-made. Knowledge and experience of these rhythms can mean the difference between a productive steelhead fishing trip and a waste of valuable fishing time. Having someone who can pinpoint the best time and place to fish is what makes guided steelhead fishing so productive.

The River Pirate’s Pro-guide, Ken Hoffman, has over 30 years’ experience steelhead fishing in the Sacramento River. Ken knows the river thoroughly and will enjoy showing you the best steelhead fishing Northern California has to offer.