Denis Peirce The Union.com
April 11, 2006
The Feather River rose from 20,000 cubic feet per second to 35,000 cfs on April 3 and stayed at that level until Sunday night. The river is now back down to the 20,000 range. In some places, that was a vertical rise of 4 feet.
A general rule of river striper fishing is that the fish will move up river on rising water levels and drop back down as the flows recede. Last week, the fish moved up river all the way to the Oroville Wildlife Area. There were stripers seen chasing baitfish immediately above the "Outlet Hole" in the low flow section.
Another piece to the puzzle is water temps. Last week near Gridley, the temps were at 49 degrees in the late afternoon despite overcast skies and rain. This past weekend, the afternoon temps broke through the 50-degree mark. The rising flows and marginally warmer water have put the fish on the bite. Last Friday, there were a number of locals fishing near the Yuba City boat launch ramp and, early in the afternoon, a school of fish came through and limits were the rule.
Ten days ago, the stripers were down river near Nicholas. With the high water, they have spread up the river. Yesterday, the river flow was reduced and the bite that had been strong all weekend slowed. The best guess is that it will take 24 to 48 hours for the fish to acclimate to the change and then resume the business of serious eating. It is also probable that the fish will move down river to some extent. If the temps keep moving up, I expect that there will be fish throughout the Feather River. With lower levels, I would expect the fish to stack up below the Shanghai Bend rapids and the rock dam near Live Oak. These obstacles were barely visible at the highest flows.
The No. 1 bait this past week has been pile worms. Sardines and anchovies took their share of fish when the bait shops ran out of pile worms. The shops have been resupplied and pile worms are again available. The best way to catch stripers is bait on the bottom, with water temps near 50. Look for fish in water 4 to 6 feet deep, particularly over sand bars on the inside of river bends.
The stripers will hit lures, flies and rubber worms more readily once the water warms up a few more degrees. The farther you go down river, the warmer the water will be. Even though we continue to get rain, the hours of daylight and the higher angle of the sun in the sky will keep water temps moving up.