Also referred to as the “Jewel of Sacramento,” the Lower American River flows from the basin of Nimbus Dam to the Sacramento River. It is the second largest tributary of the Sacramento River. While the upper part of the river resembles typical California tailwater (not to mention, scores of fishermen looking to snag fish stacked up against the dam and the basin), the lower section of the river is deep and wide and not quite as popular with fishermen. The river can be fished in year round, and throughout the year there is ample opportunity to catch steelhead, striped bass, salmon, shad, and more!

Learn more about guided fishing trips down the Lower American River! Contact Fish Habit Outfitters today to reserve your spot on one of our guided fishing charters!


The American River is a 120-mile-long river that runs from the Sierra Nevada mountain range all the way to the Sacramento River. It is also part of the San Francisco Bay watershed. It is the main source of drinking water for Sacramento, and over the years, it has been dammed heavily for irrigation, hydroelectric power, flood control, and more. In addition to having a rich history of fur trapping and gold mining, the river has been designated a California Recreational River, meaning it is protected and recognized for its outstanding fish and wildlife, history, beauty, culture, and recreational value.

Lower American River Seasons

Of course, as the seasons change, so do the conditions of the Lower American River. Below is a rough guide to what you can expect during each season.  

  • Winter—As the weather begins to cool down, steelhead fishing begins to heat up. This is the prime time for steelhead on the Lower American. Not only are you sure to catch a litany of steelhead, but you are also sure to hook some monster fish—we’re talking 15 pounders. With this size, also comes a great fishing battle, one you’re sure to never forget. 
  • Spring—Spring on the American River presents an opportunity for some seriously good shad fishing. As the “poor man’s tarpon” return to the Lower American, grab some shard darts and get ready to real in some American shad. They can be caught both in the morning and evening and seemingly all spring.
  • Summer—In addition to all the shad from summer still hanging around the river, summer on the Lower American welcomes some behemoth striped bass. If you head down the Lower American in the summer be prepared to workout. These stripers will put up a fight.
  • Fall—With the arrival of fall also comes the arrival of some monster salmon. These salmonoids coming in from the Pacific are bright and full of energy and ready to test the limits on your drag system. Also great during this time are steelheads.

How Can I Book a Trip?

Since the Lower American River runs through our backyard, it would be a bit of an understatement to say that our fishing guides are familiar with it—they know it like the back of their hand. When you book a trip with one of our fly fishing guides, you will have access to all of this knowledge. They will not only educate you on the river and all of its species and history, but our fishing guides will also show you the ins and outs of fishing the Lower American River and any appropriate fly fishing tips and tricks. Whether you are looking for a beginner fly fishing experience or you are a seasoned veteran looking for a challenge, we can tailor a trip for you.

We offer full and half-day trips with the option of walking and wading or floating down the river on a drift boat. Learn more about our Lower American River fishing trips and what’s included with each package. Additionally, since the Lower American River Watershed supports more than 40 species of fish and an abundance of wildlife, it is not uncommon for those on our fishing charters to catch a multitude of fish while also seeing deer, coyotes, turkeys, bald eagles, beavers, otters, turtles, and a plethora of waterfowl.

Looking for a Lower American River Fishing Report?

Sure, it’s probably safe to assume that anytime you fish the Lower American you’re going to experience some super fly fishing. However, if you are looking for a little more accurate and detailed information to help formulate your expectations, check out our California Fishing Report! We aim to provide accurate, up-to-date, reports on a regular basis.

Contact us today to reserve your spot on one of our guided fishing trips!