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Oroville Area fishing and outdoor report

By Craig Bentley, Golden State Guide Service
04/16/15 -- Lake Oroville’s surface elevation has come up a few inches in the last week to 762 feet. The surface temperature is now 56 degrees. The water is clear up in the river arms and main body coves with mudlines near points when the wind blows. There will be still some floating debris on the lake, so caution is needed while running your boat. Bidwell Canyon launch ramp is open, the Spillway launch ramp and Limesaddle launch ramp all remain open. The rest of the launch ramps around the lake are car-top boat launches, where access depends on the surface elevation and the boater’s ability to launch his craft.

The warm spring weather will return midweek with daytime temps in the low to mid-forties in the mornings and the low to mid-sixties to low seventies in the afternoons. The weekend will be mostly sunny and warmer with afternoon temps forecast to be in the mid-eighties, with little or no wind!

The spring spawn is on and bass fishing is pretty good with plenty of fish being caught all over the lake. Boating anglers are catching good numbers of spotted bass to four pounds and an increasing numbers of largemouth to six pounds! Anglers can expect to catch 30 or more bass a session. Two tournaments last weekend produced a six pound largemouth.

It took 13 pounds to win the BBT and a 15-1/2 lb. limit to win the NorCal 90 tourney.
The fish have been holding from the bank down to 25 feet deep. Find fish on points of cove mouths and on walls leading to them, or on smooth clay or sand banks with small rocks and also pretty much anywhere bass will usually hold or spawn.

The bite is still good, with the bass hitting just about any type of bait that’s meant to catch bass and then some. Best baits that have been good have been Senko's and natural colored tubes. The reaction bite is good also with anglers catching fish on rip baits, or slow-rolling spinnerbaits near mudlines and ambush points. Finesse fishing is always good here and anglers are catching fish on small tubes, four inch worms, grubs and small paddle tail swim-baits. The jig bite has been okay. Skirted jigs in the 3/8 & 1/2 ounce sizes, in natural colors like Oxblood, Pumpkin and Watermelon have been working. Hula grubs can be a good choice in the same colors.

King salmon fishing has been slow with reports of anglers catching a few of the smaller kings at some of the usual spots. The bite should pick up with a cooler water temp and the new moon this weekend. The area along the dam continues to see a lot of pressure and the bite there is slow with trollers having to work a lot more for a few fish. The Kings are being caught trolling in front of the dam, near structure, in the river forks mouths, the slot and near the Enterprise Bridge, or under the green bridge. Some bigger fish are occasionally in the mix, with mostly smaller fish being caught by most trollers. Apex lures, Speedy Shiners, or Hoochies tipped with a piece of anchovy, behind a medium sized dodger, trolled at 25-55 feet at 1.3 to 2.3 mph is the ticket for 14”- 17” Kings and an occasional larger fish to 4-lbs. A few trout have also been showing up in trollers bags, hitting the baits meant for salmon.
Mooching Anchovies can produce some fish when they are on the bait over structure or near the bottom. Minnows fished under a sliding bobber may entice a bite from a salmon or trout for the shore-bound angler.

Diversion Pool
There was very little fishing pressure here last week. Releases from Oroville Dam have been up to 2075cfs from the dam, late in the day, from 4pm to 10pm, but there has been very little bait coming down from the lake. Trout were seen feeding on insects on the surface last weekend here. Hopeful anglers cast and retrieve minnow imitations, - soft plastics, stick baits, or spoons, or fish bait for the trout or salmon. Please note that DWR advises that flows can increase without notice and flows are subject to change throughout the day.

Thermalito Forebay
Populations of trout, salmon, bass, catfish and other species of rough-fish are present in the Forebay; however there hasn't been a trout plant since DFW policy changed the waters where fish may be planted. Some transient trout and salmon that have moved down from the diversion pool to the South Forebay are occasionally caught on bait by patient anglers enjoying the solitude of this little used facility off of Grand Ave. Nelson Ave. bridge may offer some fishing for holdover trout or salmon with irrigation releases and current running under the bridge. However, there have been no reports from anglers fishing the Forebay now, so reports remain scarce. Low water releases moving through the Forebay have allowed aquatic weeds to grow tall in nearshore waters.

Thermalito Afterbay
Pool elevation is up over 134'. The water temperature is 55 to 58 degrees with about five feet of visibility. Steelhead fishing has slowed. A few of the recently planted juveniles are being caught by anglers fishing off of the bank by the Wilbur road access. Overcast or cloudy, rainy days have been better fishing days. Nightcrawlers, inflated, or with marshmallows, minnows, Gulp eggs, Power Bait and soft plastics will entice a bite for the bank angler. Boaters are trolling a nightcrawler behind a dodger at ten to fifteen feet deep, along the west wall of the Afterbay and in the channels.

Bass fishing has been good and getting better on the Afterbay and anglers are reporting catching more and bigger fish here last week. Bass are starting to spawn and big fish are starting to come out of the tules. A six pound Largemouth was caught and released here last week. The bass are hitting creature baits, jerk-baits, Senko's', plastic worms, jigs and Spinner baits. Pre-spawn bass hang-out in the coves, off of points and along the west rock wall. Look for them around any tules, rocks and on the clay banks too.

Feather River
Fishing for King salmon is closed on the Feather River. Fishing for the King Salmon is also closed all year in the Low Flow above the Outlet. There is no allowance for any catch and release fishing that targets salmon when the river is closed to salmon fishing. The reach of the Feather River above the Hwy 70 Bridge, to the Table Mountain Bicycle Bridge in Oroville is open to fishing for Steelhead and all other species except Salmon and Green Sturgeon, as of Jan. 1, 2015. Barbless hooks only are required.

Below the Hwy 70 Bridge, the Feather River is open year around for Steelhead, trout, bass, catfish and panfish. Check DFW regulations for species limits, gear restrictions and Salmon regulations.

Flows are now back down to 750cfs in the Low flow at Oroville, with 60 cfs being released from the Thermalito Afterbay Outlet, for a total of 810cfs below the Outlet. The project total outflow is now 810cfs. The water temperature is warming and now 53 to 59 degrees at station FRA in the Low Flow and below the Thermalito Afterbay Outlet at station FOW, water temps are 57 to 62 degrees. The water is clear with about ten feet of visibility.

Steelhead and trout fishing was fair last week. Local anglers found some action in the hatchery stretch for a few trout and steelhead, using stealth tactics with ultra-light gear.
The fish are occasionally feeding on aquatic insects. Some fish were being caught on Caddis emergers or dries. Jigging 1/8 ounce Kastmasters on the drift may produce an occasional fish. For the fly fisher, streamers and aquatic insect imitations- (Caddis, Chironimids, Mayflies & Midges) in small, size 16-20 nymphs and Wooly buggers were getting an occasional take. Bait fishers use Nightcrawlers or fresh natural borax cured roe, beneath a clear float to catch a few fish.

There's been very little boat traffic on the river below the 162 bridge. Back trolling small plugs- Hotshots and Pee-Wee Steelie Warts, or side drifting bait, usually works for spin-fishing drift boaters floating the Low Flow. Most boaters fly fish nymphs under strike indicators, or swing streamers when fishing for trout or steelhead in the low flow.
Warmer water temps had started the bugs hatching again, as water temps were almost 60 degrees. Caddis hatches were coming off occasionally and Chironimids, mosquitos and blackflies are swarming in the evening.

CA DFW Feather River Hatchery personnel report that this season’s steelhead return is lower than normal, with just over 730 fish returning to the facility this year.

* Please note that only hatchery trout (those fish under 16”) and hatchery Steelhead may be taken from the Feather. Wild fish- (those with an adipose fin) must be released. The daily bag limit is 2 hatchery trout, or steelhead, with a maximum of 4 in possession.

Oroville State Wildlife Area ponds are coming to life as bass move into the shallows to spawn, Bluegill and sunfish also follow them into the shallows to wait for their turn.

The General Hunting Season is now closed in the Oroville State Wildlife Area.

Turkey season closes May 4th.

Turkey hunting is only allowed in the O.W.A. with a permit issued by DFW Prior to the season. See regulations regarding Turkey Hunting and area use at Ca. Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, online.

[This report was posted courtesy of the Oroville Chamber of Commerce.]

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