Feather River Salmon Better Than Predicted

By: Scott Feist

The ocean fishing has been spectacular this year out of San Francisco and that’s already translating into a good bite on the Feather River. We are going to have a much better run than predicted. They were completely wrong with the poor run predicted. But, to be fair a lot of that has to do with they didn’t know the true survival rate of the salmon that were trucked downriver a few years ago due to low and warm water rather than released at the hatchery. We’ve learned that the survival rate when these fish are trucked is way higher. The bottom line is we have way more salmon than they predicted.

We are getting a lot more salmon than in previous years in August and we’re super excited to see what September holds. The high water we have on the Feather River is bringing in gorgeous, beautiful, chrome rockets. We didn’t have as many of these salmon last year as we contended with lower water. The fishing is way better on the Feather River this summer than the previous few years.


I believe some of it has to do with the way salmon were released. Two and three years ago the Coleman and Feather River Hatchery trucked all their fish away from the hatchery so they didn’t have to go downriver through the warm water in drought years. This has caused a big stray rate, but also greater returns so far. The fish I’ve been catching on the Feather River are a lot of Sacramento River fish that have to the Feather because of the high flows.

The Feather River is starting to fish well and is only going to get better from here, which is crazy to think because today we banged early limits of bright Chinook to 25 pounds by 10am. I had six anglers on the boat. This is going to continue and get better. We’ve caught fish into the mid thirties on the Feather River already. Traditionally, the larger fish come later in the season so I’m expecting there to be 40 pounders and some to 50, potentially.


We are catching beautiful, big fish and the success has been based on having good bait. Earlier in the season I wasn’t using any roe. I was trolling Yakima single blade spinners. However, about two weeks ago I moved further upriver to chasse these chrome beauties and switched over to roe.


As with the last several years I’m using Fire Cure exclusively and strictly using Red Fire Cure. The key has been using a lot of krill on my eggs (which I achieve with Fire Power). These fish are fresh out of the ocean where they’ve been gobbling bundles of krill. By adding that Fire Power (krill powder) to my eggs it’s seems to enhance the bite. As a rule I’ll sprinkle enough Fire Power on my eggs to turn my roe lightly brown, which tells me I have enough krill on them (Fire Power is a brownish color).


The Feather River is running a little over 8,000 cfs, which is a lot of water. I tend to focus most of my fishing on the deeper holes, but early in the morning and late in the evening some of the shallower stuff produces. Salmon are spread from the Thermalito Afterbay to the Sacramento River and the inventory is only going to increase daily.


Editor’s Note: Scott Feist operates Feisty Fish Guide Service. For more info on his guided Feather River jet boat trips please visit: https://www.facebook.com/FeistyFishGuideService or http://feistyfish.net.

Anglers are allowed to keep two salmon per day on the Feather River.