Feather River Steelhead and Fall Chinook Numbers Soar

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YUBA CITY – Steelhead are starting to appear in good numbers on the Feather River above Gridley as the salmon action dwindles below Live Oak, but fishing pressure is light.

The Feather River Fish Hatchery has released 510 steelhead back into the river since November 1, according to Anna Kastener, hatchery manager. The staff won’t begin spawning the steelies until December.

“By contrast, we saw only 74 steelhead the whole season two years ago,” she noted.

“We got a whole bunch of fall Chinook salmon this season,” added Kastener. “We’re almost done spawning for the year.”

The hatchery count is 13,800 adults and 7,200 jacks to date this year to date. “We’ve taken over 15,000,000 eggs, including 2,000,000 fish above the mitigation goal that the NorCal Sportsmen’s Association requested,” said Kastener.

On the other hand, only 500 spring run Chinook salmon returned to the facility to spawn this season. “The previous low number was 989 fish in 2010,” she said. “We only have a quarter of the fish eggs that we normally take from the spring run.”

The salmon fishing on the Feather has tapered off, although anglers are hooking some late fall Chinooks on the Sacramento River from below Sacramento to Verona reported Bob Boucke of Johnson’s Bait and Tackle.

“Shore anglers and boaters are bagging steelhead on the Feather from Oroville to Gridley,” stated Boucke. “The fish range from half pounders to 5 pounds. The best baits are nightcrawlers, Glo Bugs and roe.”

The upper section of the Feather River above Live Oak closed to salmon fishing on October 15, but the lower river from Live Oak to Verona is still open salmon fishing,