I like to say I grew up on the American River way before so much of this poaching and flossing started taking place. My dad and I used to walk to the river behind Cal-Expo before there was a Cal-Expo, before they built the Hwy.80 bridge crossing, or the Sunrise Bridge, or Hazel Ave. We used to drive the old DeSoto right onto the gravel coming down Pennsylvania Ave. from Fair Oaks. There were always lots of salmon then. Large Mepps spinners were the lure of choice then and they worked fine as I remember.
We used to park on the bluff over-looking the Nimbus Dam and you could see salmon in the river then too, but not the crowds like you see today. As the Sacramento area grew so have the crowds and the problems that come with it.
The hatchery and Nimbus Dam are the end of the road for these migrating fish so they do stack up and fishing is easy, and so is poaching with the crowds that go along with it. Obviously this area needs better control. The spawning area, but how far down?
I think Darian had the best suggestion as to finding records for what you want. There has to be records somewhere of all the rules and regulation dates that you're asking for. Where? I haven't the foggiest idea but I think I'd start asking at the main Fish & Wildlife office. They're probably stored in some warehouse or library vault but should be available to the general public.
These are just my thoughts out loud. I like to reminisce about the old American River and growing up there.
Feather River Fly
Yuba City, CA.