Feather River Cools, Bite Heats Up

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I got an excited cell call this morning from Sacramento and Feather River king salmon guide Manuel Saldana Jr. of MSJ Guide Service in the Yuba City/Marysville area (530-301-7455). The last time we talked – around mid-September – Saldana talked of the higher water temperature than he preferred for the Feather River, not to mention his concerns about how low the water level has been in the rain-deprived Central Valley.

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Here’s what Saldana had to say in the story that ran in October’s California Sportsman:

“Honestly, the Feather is turning into a creek. The last time I navigated it was at 1,500 cfs. I was seeing stuff (structure) I’ve never seen. Now (as of mid-September), it was 1,300. On a normal year it’s easily 3,500 cfs.” …

“The water’s been getting low and it’s getting lower. I’ve never seen them so low.” 

Another issue was the Feather’s (and Sacramento’s) water temperature, which was still in the low 60’s, just a little warm for epic king salmon fishing.

“They just haven’t wanted to bite due to the water temp. But then you’ll have a 3- to 4-degree fluctuation throughout the day from morning to evening. And that’s really kind of been the case. Some days we’re able to stick them. One day we had two people and got them 3-for-4 salmon. But we had to work six or seven hours.”

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Fast forward to about a month later, when, despite a very low water level, the Feather is now churning out a lot of kings. Saldana told me he’s been filling his cooler with limits for his anglers aboard the boat. “It’s been on,” he said. “Hopefully I’ll be able to hit it hard for the next four weeks or so.”

A lot of fish are being back-bouncing roe topped with Pro-Cure sardine jel.

Saldana urges anglers to be cautious as the Feather continues to be well below normal, leaving many obstructions for boats on the river. But the fishing is locally epic for the last full month of king fishing. Give Saldana a call at (530) 301-7455 to set up a trip.

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