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Cold waters cool bass bite

Oroville Waters by craig Bentley author badge, myoutdoorbuddy.com

roville area waters are cooling down fast as the latest storm drops one and a third inches of rain and snow in the mountains. The fall bite at lake continues with anglers catching bass, trout and salmon while local waterfowl hunting yields an average amount of ducks for hunters in the Oroville Area during storms. However, the largemouth bass bite has slowed as a result of the cold storm and wind at the Afterbay.

Lake Oroville
The fall bass bite continues as bass are still on the feed to fatten up for the winter!
The Lake surface elevation is dropping about six inches a day and is now at 660 feet. The surface temperature has cooled to 64 degrees. The water is mostly clear up in the river arms, 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 highly recommended by State Parks officials for launching boats at Bidwell Canyon, which is quite muddy, while four wheel drive only is required at the spillway. Local boaters are saying that the spillway launch is easier to use.
All of the Car-top boat access points are closed with the exception of Foreman Creek where the gate is still open to access the lake. Boaters are advised to call the lake's Visitor Center at (530) 538-2219, to check the daily status of the launch ramps prior to making a trip up to the lake.

The storm over Sunday and Monday brought an inch and a third of rain and sub-normal temperatures along with it. The forecast for this week is for mostly sunny skies with patchy fog possible in the mornings. Daytime temps forecast to be from 35 to 48 in the mornings with highs from 58 to 68 in the afternoons. Winds will be east-northeast to 8 mph early in the week and then light and variable through the weekend. A chance of rain is forecast again for Sunday.

Brent Cline at Oroville Outdoors called the fishing ''Great. It’s been really good with lots of fish being caught."

The top water bite has slowed some becoming intermittent, with anglers still catching fish on Zara Spook Jr's, or rippin' stick baits near steep, rock strewn banks, or wherever the fish are occasionally blowing up on bait. Fishing in the shade lines along steep walls, or long points remains good on stick baits, jigs and tubes. The bite is good right now and most baits are working. Bass are now holding from the surface down to 30 feet deep.

The finesse bait bite has been good near steep walls, ledges, drop-offs and structure, off and on all day. Anglers are either drop-shotting small tubes, or casting wacky rigged Senko's, dart-head four-inch worms, or fishing 1/4 ounce finesse jigs and small paddle-tail swim-baits on light line to catch 30 to 40 bass or more, 12 to 14 inches along with a few 3 to 4 pound fish in the catch for two anglers. Natural colors and earth tone baits like bait fish, Prizm shad, watermelon, pumpkin, oxblood and brown are all working.

King salmon fishing has been picking up with a report of boaters trolling for salmon and getting a few kings weighing from three to four pounds, down to 18 inchers near the dam. Action has been fair one day and slow the next with no set pattern seen lately. The fish have been scattered all over the main body of the lake and boating anglers putting in some time are starting to catch a few fish. Boaters troll lures down from the 30 to 60 foot mark and deeper, over 100 to 150 foot depths to catch a fish or two. Fishing for trout and salmon is slowly picking up with the dropping water temperatures on the surface.

Salmon may be 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. The best tactic is to try and find bait schools then troll your gear just under the bait. White has been the preferred color in lure choice. Berkley Power minnows, Apex lures or Hoochies-tipped with a piece of anchovy, rigged behind a medium sized dodger, trolled at 30 to 70 feet, at 1.9 to 2.2 mph has been working for both salmon and trout.

Diversion Pool
The fishing is fair with only a few locals trying for trout when flows are up. Releases from Oroville Dam have been fluctuating between 1700 cfs and 4350 cfs. Trout and salmon have been active during the pulse releases of water from the lake and occasionally fish to five pounds have been caught and released. Try casting and retrieving 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.

Thermalito Afterbay
Pool elevation is up over 135 feet. The water temperature is 55 to 65 degrees back in the coves with cooler water at 55 coming from the Thermalito canal. There's about five feet of visibility. Steelhead fishing remains unpredictable, okay one day and then slows for a number of days, with few anglers fishing on the weekend. Anglers use pink Gulp eggs, with a nightcrawler or scented marshmallow, using a three foot leader and a sliding sinker setup, while bank fishing for steelhead trout or coho salmon.

Pond smelt have been moving back and forth into the inlets and canal mouths with bass and trout following the bait. Boaters have been trolling with minnow type lures or 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.

Bass fishing has slowed some on at the Afterbay with the colder weather and dropping water temperatures. Fishing had been good for fish up to three and four pounds holding on the edges of weed mattes in five to ten feet of water and along the rocks. However fewer boaters were out on the water last week with the changing and inclement weather, so few reports were turned in from the Afterbay.

Boating anglers have been casting wacky rigged Senko's or white spinner baits near grass mattes, or working Gitzits in the rocks. Drop-shotting small plastic minnows or tubes off the rock walls, has also been working. Anglers were catching ten to twelve fish in a session on the Afterbay before the cold front.

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 to the edges of the weed mattes, or along the 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 being caught.

Feather River
Steelhead fishing remains slow on the upper Feather River with few fish caught amongst many anglers.

*The 2015 King salmon season closed Thursday, October 15th, for the water from the boat ramp above the Afterbay Outlet, downstream to 200 yards above the Live Oak boat ramp at Pennington Road.

* The Feather River remains open from Live Oak to the mouth at Verona until December 16th.

* 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 800 cfs in the Low flow at Oroville, with 400 cfs being released from the Thermalito Afterbay Outlet, for a total of 1200 cfs below the Outlet. The project total outflow is 2600 cfs. The Gridley gauge data showed 946 cfs at the time of this writing, which is way too low for safe powerboat operation and certainly 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 now at 51 to 53 degrees at station FRA in the Low Flow. Below the Thermalito Afterbay Outlet at station FOW, the sensor remains offline with no current data available. The water is clear 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.

The river at lower flows allows wading anglers after steelhead to access nearly the entire stretch of river that runs through the Oroville State Wildlife Area. Steelhead anglers should be aware that hunting season is also open along the river now. There are a lot of anglers visiting the river this week in hopes of hooking some steelhead.

The river continues into the late fall pattern with some trout and small steelhead biting best now in the middle of the day in the heads of riffles or behind any remaining spawning salmon. Local anglers were getting some trout and steelhead averaging 14 inches with a few to three pounds, while fishing in the "Low Flow''. Yesterday this writer fished the area now called "Fisherman's gate" along with almost fifteen other anglers and saw one small dark steelhead caught then released by a lady fly fisher using nymphs.

For trout or steelhead try side drifting Glo-bugs, single eggs, small clusters of cured roe, nightcrawlers with a size 14 Corky, or try soaking roe in the deeper pools, mid-day. Fly fishers can try Glo-bugs, egg patterns, or Trout beads followed by a size 14 Birdsnests, olive or tan Fox Poohpahs, soft hackle emergers and San Juan Worms. There has been some good blue wing olive Mayfly hatches in the mornings and some decent Caddis hatches in the afternoons on the warmer days above 65 degrees.

Boat traffic is picking up on the river below the Hwy.162 Bridge. Most drift boaters fly fish nymphs or egg patterns under strike indicators, or swing wet flies or streamers when fishing for trout or steelhead in the Low Flow. Some boaters pull plugs or side drift from drift boats on un-crowded days on 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 may produce 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. 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. Smaller ponds have pretty much dried up.

Hunting
The General Hunting Season is now open in the Oroville State Wildlife Area.
Waterfowl season opened Saturday, Oct. 24th. Type C Wildlife Areas have been hosting average duck hunting with mallard, pintail, teal, widgeon and wood ducks taken when storms come through. Look for hunting to improve as storms push additional birds down from the north.

Hunting conditions have improved some with the recent rains and will get better yet with more rain.

*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 closed Sunday, Nov. 1st. in the Oroville State Wildlife Area.

*Tree Squirrel season opened Sept. 12 with a limit of 4 per day. Closes Jan.31

* Balance of State Quail season opened Oct.18, Closes Jan.31

*Non-Lead Shot shells only are permitted for hunting on state lands.

**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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