LOW FLOW-FEATHER RIVER
Upper Sacramento River
North Yuba River
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Updated - 5/27/21
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Current River Conditions: 700 CFS in the low flow
Fishing-Fair: Nothing new this week. Lincoln Gray at Sierra Stream & Mtn fly shop in Chico CA reports that there is not much happening right now. He said there should be a few summer Steelhead right now, but he's had no reports from customers. He also mentioned that Shad fishing never really got going either on the mainstem of the Feather or on the Lower Sac. It might be worth trying the main stem for Stripers.
If you haven't fished the Low Flow Section before, the best way to get to know the river is with a guide. We have guides who are on the Feather every day no matter what the season. Give the shop a call (916)483-1222 or click here and we will set you up.
About the Feather River
The Low Flow section of the Feather River is one of those rivers that have stable and wadeable flows and is fishable all year. The Feather River flows out of the Sierra’s into the central valley at the town of Oroville, CA which is located a little over an hour north of Sacramento CA on the east side of the valley.
At the town of Oroville the river is split into two sections where most of the flow is diverted into Thermalito Afterbay. The remaining flow continues through the original river channel to eventually meet up with diverted flow about eight miles downstream. This section is called the Low Flow Section and because the flows stay low all year, it’s always wadeable.
It’s one of those waters where you can either access it from a well maintained levy road that parallels the river, or float it in a drift boat or other watercraft. Even if you float it, you will probably stop and get out to wade the most productive sections. Because the low flow section consists of long stretches of frog water punctuated by riffles that lie in-between, finding where the Steelhead are, isn’t rocket science though it can require that you move from riffle to riffle before you find them.
Several runs of Steelhead make their way up the Feather River to the Low Flow section between October and April. In October, the early Steelhead show up to take part in what the locals call the egg bite which refers to the feast to be had if one situates just downstream from a Salmon redd. Looking for shadows downstream from the redds provide a target for fly fishermen swinging or drifting egg patterns by the noses of those early fish.
The fish average about 4 to 6 lbs and look like footballs with tails and mouths at opposite ends. After the Salmon spawn is over the Steelhead remain in the river to spawn in January and February. In the spring what is left of the original somewhat smaller indigenous Steelhead, make their spawning run plus there is what are locally called “Half Pounders” which are a juvenile Steelhead, that come up to the Low Flow section from the Pacific Coast estuaries to feed on the abundant caddis, stone and mayfly nymphs that get active in the spring.
Lots of access is available along the low flow. Boats can be launched at the Riverbend Park (39.507010, -121.576667) off of Montgomery Street. The take out (39.457059, -121.629926) is 8 mi downstream off of Larkin Rd. where the outlet of the Thermalito Afterbay is located. If you will be in a motor vehicle, Wildlife Area Access Rd follows the Low Flow section from Oro Dam Rd (Hwy 162) along the west side of the river.