Lower Feather River
Lower Feather River – Drift Boat/Walk and Wade
Full Day: $550 (1-2 Anglers) / Half Day: $450 (1-2 Anglers)
The Lower Feather River sits in the heart of gold country. This tailwater fishery flows out of Oroville Dam, the tallest earthen dam in the country. The river is best known for its steelhead and salmon fishing. Holding both hatchery and wild steelhead/salmon, there are also opportunities for striper during certain times of the year. Just below the dam water is diverted to the Forebay and Thermalito Afterbay for water storage, hydro-electric power, and flood control for the local area. This causes the Lower Feather River to be broken into two different sections, known as the low-flow area and the high-flow area. The low-flow starts at the Feather River hatchery and ends approximately 5.5 miles downstream at the Thermalito Afterbay Outlet. The high-flow starts at the Afterbay outlet and ends approximately 8.5 miles downstream at the Gridley boat launch. With roughly 14 miles of river to fish, we have many available options for both drift boat trips and walk and wade trips.
The Lower Feather River offers a variety of methods to search for hard-fighting steelhead during the fall (late September to mid-December) and spring (March to late May). The best time to fish steelhead on the Lower Feather River is during the fall run. The steelhead hold up behind the salmon digging redds, eager to eat as they fill themselves on eggs, caddis, BWO, PMD. In the springtime, we use caddis nymphs and dries, PMD, Sucker Spawn, and midge patterns. We target these fish using 9’6”, #6 weight rods, unless we are swinging, then we use 11’- 12’ switch or 12’- 13’ spey rods. Preferred methods from the drift boat are indicator nymphing, dry fly (late winter or springtime) with some opportunities to walk and wade with some tight line nymphing. Preferred methods during a walk and wade are tight line nymphing, indicator nymphing, swinging, and dry fly fishing. The fall run fish average 2 - 4 lbs, with 6 - 10 lb fish being caught consistently. The spring run steelhead are smaller than their fall cousins and run between 1 – 2 lbs with a larger adult being in the 5lb class.
Salmon season in the high-flow opens up July 16 and closes October 15; during this time we have opportunities to target salmon and some striper in the high-flow sections (the low-flow section is closed to salmon fishing year-round). We target these fish using 9’ or 9’6”, #8/#9 weight rods, unless we are swinging, then we use a 12’- 13’ #7 or #8 weight spey rods. During a salmon trip, we use several methods such as indicator nymphing (with eggs and caddis), strip streamer (bunny leech) with sinking line, and swinging. The best time to fish for salmon is the summer months late July – September. I love chasing salmon on the fly, it feels like you just hooked a freight train!