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Oroville area fishing and outdoor report

ake Oroville Bass fishing rebounds to seasonal norm while kings in the lake and Feather River Salmon play hard to get, yet catchable as summer heat returns this week!

Salmon sneak by to the cooler water temps while steelhead fishing remains slow as low releases and flows remain in place on the Feather River.

Afterbay largemouth bass bite slows as steelhead fishing picks up to fair with cooler water as pool elevation comes up to full.

Feather River
Salmon Fishing

Flows are now 830 cfs in the Low flow at Oroville, with 485 cfs being released from the Thermalito Afterbay Outlet, for a total of 1315 cfs below the Outlet. The project total outflow is 1850 cfs. The Gridley gauge data showed 1130 cfs at the time of this writing, which is too low for safe powerboat operation and technical for those rowing drift boats down the wide, low water. Propeller driven boats are not recommended below 3500 cfs. Remember that release changes can occur without notice.
 Photo by Mike Tripp, Feather River Salmon

<< Late evening Labor Day lunker! Ryan Tripp holds up the rewards of fishing to the last legal minute of the late evening bite that has been producing a takedown or two for he and his dad on a few trips to the Feather River this year. Photo by Mike Tripp

The water temperature has cooled some and is now at 55 to 60 degrees at station FRA in the Low Flow and below the Thermalito Afterbay Outlet at station FOW, the sensor remains offline with no current data available. The water is tinted green in the Low Flow with about five to six feet of visibility and below the Thermalito Afterbay Outlet the water is clear with about five feet of visibility.

This week, few fish were caught on plugs or bait. A few fish are being caught by wading anglers that are lining fish with long leaders in the riffles or fishing jigs in deeper water below the Afterbay Outlet.

The salmon that are scooting upriver are barely stopping at the confluence of the "Low Flow" and the Thermalito Afterbay Outlet before moving upriver into the Low Flow, which is closed to all salmon fishing. Increasing numbers of fall-run kings are beginning to show in the upper river below the Afterbay Outlet, but the bite remains slow, even in the legal pre-dawn hour before the sun gets on the water.

Seasons & Regulations
*The 2015 King salmon season opened 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.

* Fishing for the king salmon is closed all year in the Low Flow above the Outlet. There is no allowance for any catch and release fishing that targets salmon when this stretch of 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 now closed to fishing for all species, from July 15, 2015 to Jan. 1, 2016.

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.

Feather River trout & steelhead fishing
The Feather River was starting to go into the fall pattern with some trout biting later in the day in the heads of riffles after holding in the deeper pools or runs during mid-day.

Higher river flows that had made fishing tough and wading extremely difficult in the low flow have been reduced significantly and are now at 830 cfs. Local anglers have been taking a some trout and steelhead to 20 inches while fishing in the "Low Flow,” but fishing remains slow for adult steelhead

For trout or steelhead try side-drifting nightcrawlers with a size 14 Corky and drifting or soaking roe in the deeper pools, later in the day. Fly fishers can try Tan Birdsnests, olive or tan Fox Poohpahs, soft hackle emergers and San Juan Worms, or pale orange Glo-bugs. Small steelhead and trout have been rising to caddis and mayflies in the early morning in the upper river. There's been little boat traffic on the river below the Hwy. 162 Bridge. Most drift boaters fly fish nymphs or egg patterns 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.

Lake Oroville
The lake surface elevation continues to drop about three inches a day and is now at 672 feet. The surface temperature is 74 degrees. The water is clear up in the river arms and main body and coves with mudlines showing near points when the wind blows.

Bidwell Canyon and the auxiliary ramp at the spillway, remain the only two launch ramps open. Four wheel drive vehicles are recommended for launching boats. All of the Car-top boat access points are closed except Foreman Creek and Stringtown access, where the gates are still open. Boaters are advised to call the lake's Visitor Center at (530) 589-2219, to check the daily status of the launch ramps prior to making a trip up to the lake.

Summer is still here with triple digit temperatures forecast for this week. It will be sunny and hot with daytime temps forecast to be from the mid-sixties to the low seventies in the mornings with highs in the upper nineties, to over 100 in the afternoons. Winds will be variable, southwest and easterly at 5 to 8 mph mornings and afternoons through the week

Bass Fishing
The bass fishing has picked up to fair, with fish holding at 20 to 40 feet deep and some schools of fish as deep as seventy feet. Best action continues to be fishing the finesse bait bite and fishing near ledges, points, drop-offs and structure.

There are a few bass holding on the bank down to 15 feet, but most of those fish are dinks to 12 inches long at best. Anglers are drop-shotting small tubes, Senko's, four-inch worms, small grubs and small paddle-tail swim-baits on light line to catch 25 to 30 bass, 12 to 15 inches long, on a session for two anglers. Angling pressure remains light with only a few boats on the lake through the week.

Note: Lake Oroville Bass reports are courtesy of Brent Cline at Oroville Outdoors, where they've got everything you need for bass fishing at in Oroville. 530 533-4990. Please stop in and say hello!

Channel Catfish or panfish are still available and may be caught up in the river arm coves. The bite has been up and down, better at night. Cats are still biting cut baits such as anchovies, mackerel or sardines. Stink bait, dough baits or chicken livers are also working. While the numbers aren't there, panfish are still biting, with meal worms, red worms and small pieces of nightcrawlers catching hand sized sunfish in the warmer, shallower water up in the river arms.

King salmon fishing remained slow last week. A few trollers scratched out some kings at the usual spots. The fish are scattered all over the main body of the lake and boaters trolling lures down at 40 to 70 foot mark and deeper, over 100 to 150 foot depths may catch a few fish for a few hours effort in the mornings.

Salmon may being caught while trolling over submerged islands or structure, in the river forks mouths, the slot and west of the green bridge, when fishing is good. Fish caught recently are around 16 to 17 inches long. The best tactic is to find bait schools and troll your gear just under the bait. Speedy Shiners, Berkley Power minnows, Apex lures or Hoochies-tipped with a piece of anchovy, rigged behind a medium sized dodger, trolled at 50 to 70 feet, at 1.9 to 2.2 mph has been working for both salmon and trout.

Diversion Pool
The fishing remains quiet here with no reports coming in. Releases from Oroville Dam have been fluctuating from 1635 cfs to 2243 cfs. Hopeful anglers cast and retrieve minnow imitations: soft plastics, stick baits, or spoons, or fish bait for the trout or salmon. Fishing is usually better when flows are up. 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. 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.

Thermalito Afterbay
Pool elevation is now over 135feet. The water temperature is 72 to 74 degrees back in the coves with cooler water at 61 coming from the Thermalito canal. There's about five feet of visibility. Steelhead fishing has picked up to fair with the water cooling down. The pond smelt remain out in deeper water in the main body channels. For steelhead, boaters have been trolling with a threaded nightcrawler behind a dodger or drifting a fly-lined nightcrawler at ten to fifteen feet deep, along the west wall of the Afterbay or in the channels in front of the outlets, north of the Highway 162 Bridge and the mouth of the inlet canal. Coho salmon averaging 3 to 4 pounds have been caught in the canal by Wilbur Road. Anglers use pink Gulp eggs, with a nightcrawler or scented marshmallow, using a three foot leader and a sliding sinker setup.

Bass fishing has been slow with the cooler water and the number of fish caught has dropped. Small bass have been hanging out in the coves, tules and rocks. Larger bass to five pounds were hard to find in last week’s local tournament. Best action has been on Senko's or drop-shotting small plastic minnows or tubes, off the rock walls.

The topwater bite has died. Productive techniques used here include casting crank baits, spinner baits, chatter baits and flipping Brush Hogs, Super Flukes, Sweet Beavers, Senko's or other creature baits into the tules or rocks. Most fish caught lately are 10 to 12 inches long. There are some fish that will go two to five pounds, with mostly smaller bass one to two pounds are hitting. A 12 pound largemouth was caught here earlier this summer.

Oroville State Wildlife Area ponds were kicking out a few bass, bluegill and sunfish for anglers fishing the ponds near weed beds or stickups. No recent reports have come in. Grass mats are thick. 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.

The Oroville State Wildlife Area hunting season opened Tuesday September 1st with the dove opener. There were fair numbers of birds around that probably moved to the foothills and oaks. So far it’s been a pretty quiet dove season for the Oroville State Wildlife Area. Hunting is slow.

Rabbit season is open; however hunters should beware of Tularemia disease in rabbits until after a hard frost and use nitrile gloves to handle any rabbit they decide to take.

Tree Squirrel season opens Sept. 12 with a limit of 4 per day. Non-lead shot shells only are permitted for hunting on state lands. See regulations regarding hunting and area use at the CA DFW webpage.

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