South Fork American River at Cronan Ranch near ColomaThe great fishing here is one of the river’s better-kept secrets. The primary game fish are the rainbow and brown trout. Lucky anglers might catch brown trout up to eight pounds in size, although rainbows between 10 and 12 inches in length are more common. Non-game fish in the river include the Sacramento pike minnow, Sacramento sucker, California roach and riffle sculpin. Landlocked kokanee salmon were introduced in 1998 in Folsom Lake and some make the run as far as the Chili Bar dam.

The California Department of Fish and Game plants catchable rainbow trout every year at the state park in Coloma from the opening of trout season in April into summer.

The best fishing below Chili Bar is during the weekdays, when flows have been running at the minimum to sustain fishery flows. Low levels, however, make for difficult boat access. Good bank fishing access is available through trails downstream from the park and just above the Highway 193 bridge at Chili Bar.

Anglers 16 years or older must have a fishing license (available in local stores). Basic fishing supplies are available locally at Sutter Center Market, Ponderosa Park, Camp Lotus and Coloma Resort.