Beautiful Sac Rainbows with Capt. Big Waters

by Gary Heffley

Few waters in Northern California produce the combination of quality and quantity of wild rainbow trout than is found on the Sacramento River in the Redding area.  For anglers in the know or those utilizing a quality guide having a shot at 25 plus hookups is a real possibility and probability on many days on the river.  Most of these hard fighting native rainbows share genetics with native steelhead trout and often display blistering runs and acrobatic jumps. Many, my experience is that most trout exceed 16 inches with a 22 or 24 inch trout fairly common.

And the colors.  Many have bright pink and orange gill plate markings, brightly colored spots and bodies with bright wide pink slash down the mid body.  I am hard pressed to think of a prettier fish.

I had the pleasure of fishing with Capt. ” Big Waters” , my good friend Neil Amundson of Big Waters Guide Service today utilizing fly gear to do battle.  Being a novice fly angler with Murphy’s Law skill level, I tested Neil’s teaching skills. Neil kept me on fish all day long, matching the fishable water to my skill level. Neil pulled into slack water a few times to offer demonstrations to improve casting, mending and managing the line in and out of the water.  I ended up landing a good number of trout to over four pounds for the day utilizing a combination of bead / egg imitations and flies.

Neil was able to use his extensive knowledge of the river to navigate the current low water conditions of just over 3000cfs. Knowing the river is imperative to success with the ability to read the water, current and breaks allowing Neil to keep an angler in position for the hook set. It is also imperative to know the proper flies to select, matching current natural bait to maximize take down opportunities. The skill, knowledge and boat handling has probably more to do with an anglers’ shot at success than the skill of most anglers, present company included.

I hope to fish again very soon with Neil and highly recommend him for those looking for a fun, productive and professional guide experience.  Neil also offers trips on the Klamath and Smith Rivers.  Please visit for more information on trips and dates available or call Neil at 707 458-8124.  Neil also offers trips using standard fishing tackle for those not wishing to use fly techniques.

Gary Heffley has been a valued contributor to MyOutdoorBuddy for over 10 years serving as manager, sales representative and reporter for much of Northern California. He is an avid outdoorsman and loves to fish and write about his adventures. He has a long history in the Sporting Goods field and uses that extensive experience to impart his wisdom in his writing.