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Oroville Area fishing and outdoor report

Craig Bently author photo,

By Craig Bentley
04/23/15 -- Lake Oroville’s surface elevation has been fluctuating a few inches in the last week and is now 763 feet. The surface temperature is back up now at 62 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 Lime Saddle 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 spring weather will continue with partly sunny skies, a chance of thundershowers with daytime temps in the low to mid-fifties in the mornings and warming up into the mid-seventies in the afternoons. The weekend will be partly sunny and warmer with afternoon temps forecast to be in the upper seventies, with light winds.

The bass fishing is still pretty good with good numbers of fish being caught all over the lake. Boating anglers are catching good numbers of spotted bass to two pounds and an increasing numbers of largemouth up to six pounds! The first group of larger spotted bass are done spawning and smaller bass are preparing to spawn next. Anglers can expect to catch 25 or more bass a session.

The fish have been holding from the bank down to 25 feet deep. Find fish on points of cove mouths and along the walls leading to them, on smooth clay or sand banks with small rocks and in coves with vegetation growing in the water.

The bite has been good, with the bass hitting baits most commonly used to catch bass here. Best baits that have been consistently producing fish have been Senko's and natural colored tubes. The reaction bite continues with anglers catching fish on rip baits or slow-rolling spinnerbaits just off of the bottom, near mudlines and ambush points.

Finesse fishing is always the ''go-to'' technique 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 for those working skirted jigs in the 3/8 & 1/2 ounce sizes. Natural colors like Oxblood, Pumpkin and Watermelon and red crawdad have been working to take a few of the larger bass. Hula grubs can be a good choice in the same colors.

King salmon fishing has been slow with reports of anglers only catching a few of the smaller kings at some of the usual spots. With a fluctuating barometer, the bite that should've picked up with a cooler water temp and the new moon this weekend fizzled. The area along the dam continues to see a lot of pressure and the bite there remains slow with trollers having to work a lot more for only a few fish. The kings can be 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, to 17 inches, being caught by most trollers. Apex lures, Speedy Shiners, or Hoochies tipped with a piece of anchovy, behind a medium sized dodger, trolled at 30-50 feet at 1.3 to 2.3 mph usually works for 14”- 17” Kings and an occasional larger fish to 4-lbs. A few rainbow or brown trout have also been showing up in trollers catches, 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. Casting minnow type stick baits is a good technique early or late in the day for the bank angler.

Diversion Pool
Fishing pressure here was light last week. Releases from Oroville Dam have been fluctuating from 965cfs, up to 2150cfs from the dam and the penstock. Trout and salmon were seen feeding on the surface last week and a few were caught by persistent anglers casting lures. 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 the Grand Avenue and Nelson Avenue 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 lately, so reports remain scarce. Increased releases moving through the Forebay may have stirred up some fish near the Nelson Bridge and fishing there may be worth trying.

Thermalito Afterbay
Pool elevation is up over 134'. The water temperature is 56 to 60 degrees with about eight feet of visibility. Steelhead fishing has slowed. A few of the recently planted juveniles are occasionally being caught by anglers fishing off of the bank by the Wilbur road access. Nightcrawlers, inflated, or with marshmallows, minnows, Gulp eggs, Power Bait and soft plastics will entice a bite for the bank angler. Boaters are trying trolling with 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 on the spawn and big fish are starting to show in the catches.
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, from Jan. 1, 2015 through July 16, 2015.

Only Barbless hooks may be used in the Feather River above State Hwy 70.
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 750cfs in the Low flow at Oroville, with 550cfs being released from the Thermalito Afterbay Outlet, for a total of 1300cfs below the Outlet. The project total outflow is now 1760cfs. The water temperature is warming and now 54 to 59 degrees at station FRA in the Low Flow and below the Thermalito Afterbay Outlet at station FOW, water temps are 60 to 64 degrees. The water is very clear with ten feet or more of visibility.

Steelhead and trout fishing was slow last week. Local anglers found some action in the Low Flow for a few trout and steelhead, using stealth tactics with ultra-light gear. Four pound test leaders with six pound main line on the reel is recommended.

The fish are occasionally feeding on aquatic insects. Some fish were being caught on Caddis emergers or dries. 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 on light line to catch a few fish.

There's been very little boat traffic on the river below the Hwy. 162 Bridge. Most boaters fly fish nymphs under strike indicators, or swing streamers when fishing for trout or steelhead in the Low Flow.

Warmer water temps has started the bugs hatching again, as water temps were almost 60 degrees in the Low Flow. Caddis hatches are coming off frequently now and Chironimids, mosquitos and blackflies are swarming bigtime in the evening.

CA DFW Feather River Hatchery personnel report that there have been no further steelhead or any spring king salmon returning to the facility since last month.

* 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 DFW online webpage.

Craig Bentley has been an outdoor writer, photographer, outfitter and fishing guide for over twenty years in Northern California. Based out of Oroville, his articles, perspectives, reports and stories on fishing have been featured in many outdoor publications as well as local newspapers and radio talk shows. Craig can be reached via e-mail at His report was posted courtesy of the Oroville Chamber of Commerce.

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