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Stories from the valley

Discovering fishing in my own “backyard”

Contributed by Paul Buttner

Having been largely a trout fisherman for most of my life, I’ve fallen into the habit of feeling like I have to drive 4-5 hours before I’m in a respectable place to fish—mostly alpine lakes with my boat or canoe. So, even though I’ve lived in the Sacramento region for over 30 years, I have largely ignored the fishing opportunities in the Sacramento River. That is until this year.

I recently decided that I couldn’t ignore Sacramento River salmon fishing anymore just because I had not yet done it. Step 1 was to make Fisherman’s Warehouse my home away from home. They are very knowledgeable on all the local fishing and they patiently took the time to educate me and, of course, set me up with a plump bag full of all the new tackle I needed!

So far, I have been up and down the Sacramento River in my boat with my Son and good friends enjoying what’s around every new bend. I’ve enjoyed seeing the wildlife, marinas, fellow fisherman and beautiful riparian landscapes along the way. But mostly, I’ve really enjoyed the 20-minute drive from my house to the boat ramp! This is truly a unique place where one can hook into a 15-pound salmon, which migrated out to the vast Pacific Ocean only to come right back through Downtown Sacramento on it’s way up river to make more salmon.

While I’ve been doing work on CRC’s Ricelands Salmon Project in recent years, alongside many other highly-respected fish conservation groups to help struggling salmon populations recover, the critical importance of this work has now become even more highlighted in my mind. It’s about the legacy of these majestic, hard-fighting fish. They have persevered through a lot, before and after we so significantly altered their environment. We owe it to them to restore their livelihood and, in return, we will restore our own—with many generations of our sons and daughters spending time with us on our local Sacramento River in hopes of a big ole’ Chinook Salmon to bite their lines.