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Bass bite rebounds at Afterbay

Oroville Waters by Craig Bentley, author badge, myoutdoorbuddy.com

ummary: Bass bite rebounds with full pool at Afterbay, the Lumpkin fire plagues Lake Oroville with smoke, a few more salmon are being caught while steelhead fishing remains slow as low releases and flows remain in place on the Feather River.

Lake Oroville
The Lake surface elevation is fluctuating a few 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 now. Enterprise, Forbestown, La Porte and Stringtown roads are closed because of the fire. All side roads that lead to the lake from Loafer Creek Campground to Feather Falls are also closed until further notice.
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.

Fall is trying to start with a chance of rain and cooler temperatures forecast for this week. A chance of rain Wednesday and Thursday, then partly sunny and warm with daytime temps forecast to be from the mid-fifties to the low sixties in the mornings with highs in the upper sixties on Wednesday, to over 90 in the afternoon by next Sunday. Winds will be variable, somewhat gusty from the southwest and easterly at 15 to 18 mph mornings and afternoons through the week

Although very few boats are going out on the lake, the bass fishing continues to be 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, near ledges, points, drop-offs and structure. 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. Natural colors and earth tone baits like watermelon, pumpkin, oxblood and brown are working. Angling pressure remains light with only a few boats on the lake through the week.

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 cutbaits 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 with trollers scratching out a fish or two 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 1400 cfs to 1800 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
Afterbay largemouth bass bite rebounds as water warms and pool elevation comes up to full. Pool elevation is now over 135feet. The water temperature is 70 to 75 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 picked up with the higher water and the size of fish caught has been better. Small bass have been hanging out in the coves, tules and rocks. Larger bass to five pounds were biting again last week and three that size were caught during a local tournament on the Afterbay. Best action has been between either casting crank baits or spinnerbaits, or working Senko's and 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. There are some fish that will go two to five pounds, a lot of three to four pounders with mostly smaller bass of one to two pounds always hitting. A 12-pound largemouth was caught here earlier this summer.

Feather River

Lynn Tripp holding 2 salmon she hooked, photo by Mike Tripp

Cloudy day catch! Haylee Lynn Tripp shows that the girls can get the job done when a salmon gets hooked! Haylee was fishing with her dad on the Feather River last weekend, where they teamed up to take these two kings on Yakima's Hawg Nose Flatfish in the last hour of legal fishing time. Photo by Mike Tripp

*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.

Flows are now 830 cfs in the Low flow at Oroville, with 415 cfs being released from the Thermalito Afterbay Outlet, for a total of 1245 cfs below the Outlet. The project total outflow is 2180 cfs. The Gridley gauge data showed 1033 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.

The water temperature is cooling down some and is now at 51 to 53 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.

Fall run kings are beginning to show in better numbers in the upper river below the Afterbay Outlet, but the bite remains slow. Best action for boaters has been on plugs in the legal pre-dawn hour before the sun gets on the water, or the last half-hour of legal fishing time at dusk. The best action is being had by those boaters that make plan, pick a spot and get on it before sunup or dusk. Most boaters are using Flatfish or Kwikfish with a sardine wrap, but a few are jigging. Many are reporting short bites and finicky fish, with more fish hooked with the rod in the holder, rather than working the plug while holding the rod.

The river being so low allows waders to access nearly the entire stretch through the Oroville State Wildlife Area. 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 river is again starting to go into the Fall pattern with some trout biting early and late in the day in the heads of riffles after holding in the deeper pools or runs during middle of the day. Local anglers have been taking some trout and steelhead to 21 inches while fishing in the "Low Flow", but fishing remains slow for large adult steelhead.

For trout or steelhead try side drifting nightcrawlers with a size 14 Corky, Glo-bugs, or single eggs, early and late, or soaking roe in the deeper pools, mid-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.

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 thinning some. 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 open in the Oroville State Wildlife Area.
*The Wildlife Area Hunting season opened Tuesday September 1st with the Dove opener.
* First half of dove season closes Sept. 15th.
*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.
*D-3 Deer Season opens Sept. 26 in the Oroville State Wildlife Area. Shotgun with Slugs only.
*Tree Squirrel season opened 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 CA DFW webpage.


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