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Lake Oroville has kings, bass & catfish

Oroville Waters by Craig Bentley author badge, myoutdoorbuddy.com

ake Oroville king salmon bite produces limits for trollers while the topwater bite for bass continues as water temperatures remain constant and channel catfish are on the bite! Afterbay largemouth bass provide good action for boating anglers, while Feather River fishing conditions change with increased water releases.

Lake Oroville
The Lake surface elevation continues to drop with increased releases, about nine inches a day and is now at 724 feet. The surface temperature is now at 77 degrees. The water is clear up in the river arms and main body and coves with mudlines showing near points when the wind blows or when wakes from boat traffic pick up. Bidwell Canyon, the spillway and Lime Saddle launch ramps are open. Car-top boat access is now limited to Foreman Creek access and Stringtown access. Successful launching is dependent on the boat owner's ability to launch his or her boat.

Ivory Cross holding spotted bass, photo by Joseph Green
Ivy Cross caught this nice spotted bass from Lake Oroville on a hot date night bite while fishing with her Beau, Joseph Green. The two of them caught several bass, catfish and sunfish while exploring the river arms to find fish where small creeks were flowing into the lake. Photo by Joseph Green
Summer is officially here as its seasonal weather continues with sunny skies and hot temperatures. Daytime temps are forecast to be in the mid to upper sixties to the low seventies in the mornings and the mid-nineties to 105 degrees in the afternoons.

The bass fishing remains in a summer pattern with the fish holding deeper and out over open water with water temps staying in the mid-seventies. The bite has been tough with anglers working hard to catch a few fish and avoid the dinks. Boating anglers are scratching out only a few slot-sized bass and may only catch about 10 bass between two anglers for a half-day session.

A lot of bass are suspending down deep over open water. There are still some small spotted bass holding from the bank down to 25 feet deep, but most of those fish are barely six inches long. The top water bite continues, with fish caught in the evenings near deeper points, ledges, or rock walls. Zara Spooks, Rico's, Pop-R's and small buzz baits are getting a few blowups.
Ivy Cross hold up this large catfish she caught on Lake Oroville. Photo by Joseph Green
« One of many Channel Catfish that Ivy Cross caught from Lake Oroville while fishing with her partner Joseph Green on Friday last week. The couple caught several Bass, Catfish and Sunfish near the creeks while exploring the river arms. Photo courtesy of Joseph Green.

For the finesse fishers, most anglers are using small tubes, four-inch worms, small grubs and small paddle-tail swim-baits on light line. Boaters are trying several types of baits and cover a lot of water to find some decent sized fish with some anglers switching to spooning or topwater. Spooners use Kastmasters, Hopkins Shorty, P-line Laser minnows or 3/8's to 1/2 ounce lead-head jigs. As fish move into deeper water, the reaction bite has slowed to a standstill.

King salmon fishing has been steady last week with most trollers catching limits or near limits of fish at most of the usual spots.

Permitted guides caught limits of kings trolling bait and lures fishing down at 50 to 70 foot mark and deeper, in water 175 feet or deeper in the main body. An occasional or incidental nice rainbow trout have been mixed in the catch with the salmon.

The area along the dam had been seeing a decent bite early in the day, before the sun is on the water with trollers using all standard techniques to catch a few limits.

The kings are also being caught while trolling over submerged islands or structure, in the river fork’s mouths, the slot and under the green bridge. Some bigger fish are showing in the catches, with a few going to twenty-six inches.

Ryan Tripp aboard the Orange Crush, holding King Salmon he caught on Lake Oroville. Photo courtesy of Ryan Tripp

No kidding the kings are on the bite on Lake Oroville! Ryan Tripp aboard the Orange Crush, did just that last Saturday morning, crushed 'em! Ryan and his dad put the wood to eight nice fat kings and released a bonus three pound rainbow trout while trolling at 50 to 60 feet deep in front of the dam before the bite slowed down around eleven. They used three inch plastics in white, tied thirty inches behind a medium sized dodger to take the fish. Tripp said they should of had full limits, but the fish are quite scrappy and they lost a few before getting them to the boat.

Diversion Pool
The fishing has been quiet here last week with no anglers fishing and no reports coming in. Releases from Oroville Dam have been fluctuating from 3600 cfs at 6 a.m., up to 6150 cfs at 12 noon, then increasing to as much as 8500 cfs by 6 p.m. 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. No wading, swimming or floatation devices are allowed on this water above the buoy line that spans the pool, 100 yards below the spillway.

Thermalito Forebay
No recent reports have come in from the Forebay, however, populations of trout, salmon, bass, catfish and other species of rough-fish are present in the Forebay. 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 Avenue. The Nelson Avenue Bridge may offer some fishing for holdover trout or salmon with irrigation releases and current running under the bridge. Grand Avenue and Garden Avenue access areas may also be worth a try, by soaking PowerBait or an inflated nightcrawler in the main channel there.

Afterbay largemouth bass topwater bite intensifies, as steelhead fishing continues to slow with warming water temperatures for boating anglers.

Thermalito Afterbay
Pool elevation is 134 feet. The water temperature is 76 degrees with about ten feet of visibility. Steelhead fishing has slowed to poor. Most of the pond smelt have moved out of the canal into deeper water in the main body. Boaters have been trolling nightcrawlers behind a dodger to take a steelhead or two to twenty-two inches.

The Hexagenia Mayfly hatch that was coming off at sunset has slowed to nothing coming off during legal fishing hours because of the heat.

Inflated nightcrawlers, a 'crawler with a mini-marshmallow, live minnows, Gulp! Eggs, PowerBait and soft plastics may work for the bank angler fishing off the rocks in deeper water near the Hwy. 162 Bridge or along the inlet canal below Wilbur Road. Boaters are trolling with a threaded nightcrawler behind a dodger at ten to fifteen feet deep, along the west wall of the Afterbay or in the channels in front of the outlets and the mouth of the inlet canal, about a half mile west of Wilbur Road.

Bass fishing has been good and getting better with bass moving into the coves and tules again with the warmer water. A topwater bite on poppers and grass frogs has been decent in the evenings. Casting crank baits, spinner baits, chatter baits and flipping Brush Hogs, Super Flukes, Sweet Beavers, Senko's or other creature baits into the tulles or rocks has been producing some nice fish. Most fish are two to three pounds with some bigger fish to six pounds also being caught. The bass bite will continue to pick up as the water temperature continues to rise.

Steelhead and trout fishing is fair up with increased flows on the Feather River.

Feather River
*Fishing for king salmon is closed on the Feather River through July 15th. 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 15, 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.

*The 2015 King salmon season will open July 16, with a limit of two salmon per day, with a maximum possession of four salmon. Open water is from the boat ramp above the Afterbay Outlet, downstream to 200 yards above the Live Oak boat ramp at Pennington Road.

Flows are now 1800 cfs in the Low flow at Oroville, with 1000 cfs being released from the Thermalito Afterbay Outlet, for a total of 2800 cfs below the Outlet. The project total outflow is now 4700 cfs. The Gridley gauge data showed 2857 cfs at the time of this writing, which is okay for safe powerboat operation. Remember that release changes can occur without notice. The water temperature is now 57 to 62 degrees at station FRA in the Low Flow and below the Thermalito Afterbay Outlet at station FOW, the sensor is now offline with no current data available. The water is clear in the Low Flow with about ten feet or more of visibility and below the Thermalito Afterbay Outlet, the water is off color slightly with about eight feet of visibility. Feather River hatchery personnel report that 3750 spring run King salmon have entered the hatchery so far this year and more are expected with the continued increase in flows to the river.

The river is in its summer pattern with the hot weather, with fish biting early or late in the day in the heads of riffles and then holding in the deeper pools or runs during mid-day.
Higher river flows has made fishing tough and wading somewhat difficult in the low flow.

Summer-run steelhead fishing was fair last week with a few local anglers finding fish holding in deeper pools and runs. A few anglers found fair fishing the hatchery stretch last week. Most tried further downstream in the Low Flow for some trout and steelhead. Some fish were caught side drifting nightcrawlers with a size 14 Corky and drifting or soaking roe in the deeper pools there. The fish are occasionally feeding on aquatic insects. For the fly fisher, streamers and aquatic insect imitations: (Caddis, Chironimids, Mayflies & Midges) in small, size 14-16 nymphs are a good bet. Tan Birds Nests, olive or tan Fox’s Poohpahs, soft hackle emergers and San Juan Worms have been getting bit.

There's been little if any 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.

* Please note that only hatchery trout (those fish under 16 inches) 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 kicking out some bass, bluegill and sunfish for anglers fishing the ponds near weed beds or stickups. Grass mats are beginning to form with bass hitting lures on top in the moss. Use small chatter-baits, buzz baits, topwater lures, creature baits or nightcrawlers for bass and red worms or small flies for the bluegill or sunfish.

Hunting
The General Hunting Season is now closed in the Oroville State Wildlife Area.
Rabbit season opens July 1st.

See regulations regarding Hunting and area use at Ca. Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, 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 gsguideservice14@gmail.com. His report was posted courtesy of the Oroville Chamber of Commerce.


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