Chris McCann, Don Jower and I did a quick up and back trip to the Feather River after Lance's presentation in the hopes of maybe seeing a Steelhead or two. Cut to the chase: no Steelhead from shore/wading fishing, but hooked a number of salmon.
It was an easy 2.5 hour trip up and 41 degrees (getting to a high of 52) upon arriving at 7:30 am. Two guys already on the Outhouse rifle just below the highway 70 bridge as well as two guide drift boats plowing up and down through the riffle for over 1.5 hours. Nice...And we only saw 1 steelie netted by the guides during their float up there.
All of us hooked into salmon, which was not hard to do as they were wall to wall in various end of life stages. A graveyard on the shore with some as large as 30". (and most halved by Fish & Game for counting purposes). And as good stewards we broke off all of our hooked salmon, as well as our patiently tied rigs each time. BTW: I as using Lance's three bead rig as he outlined and hooked all of my salmon on that setup (both 3 bead and 2 bead + a trailing mayfly).
Cut to Act 2. We pack it up and decide to scout out Lance's suggestions in the lower river at Whitegate and Steep riffles off Larkin Ave at the Oroville Wildlife area. A few back and forth miles in the dirt alongside the river levees and a good 300 yard walk in got us to that area. Good looking Steelhead riffle water and a lot of spawning salmon in the flat water tailouts before the riffles so all looked quite promising, in seemingly hidden wooded areas. There were three other anglers down there in spite of the hike, so it's not virgin territory. One guy had caught a steelie but that was all down there that we knew of. So as light faded we began the hike out for the ride home after throwing the kitchen sink at them.
This was the 2nd trip in a week up there with different participants and still no Steelhead on the wading trips. Yep, if you want to hook a slow locomotive salmon or just observe some outstanding salmon spawning activity, then now is the time. But the salmon are spent and not energetic, so set your expectations accordingly. Perhaps the Steelhead were further downstream, not upriver in big numbers yet although the salmon eggs were everywhere, or the six chuckleheads making these trips didn't have a clue. No voting please...!
A great potential fishery below the highway 70 bridge, but we just have to figure out how to tease out the Steelhead. We'll all be back....