The Return of The Feather

By Rick Kennedy | 10/03/2012

It’s been a long time since I fished the Feather River. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy taking clients to the Feather, because I did. However, opportunities in the high elevation lakes became more of a demand. Eagle Lake was booming, kokanee on Stampede, Boca and Donner was outstanding and the stocked rainbows at Lake Davis and Jackson Meadow kept me busy from late spring through fall.

However, I’ve found myself back fishing the Feather River in more than a decade. For the first time in while we’ve seen a banner year for salmon on the Feather and I couldn’t resist the temptation to return. The numbers of fish myself and other guides are seeing has been astonishing. It reminded me of years past when salmon plugged the river.

I’ve gone back to fishing many of the same spots that I used to and found that some things are still the same and others have changed. Many of the gravel bars and bends have changed over the years, but after a few days I’ve begun to feel like I’m back at home. It’s nice to see parking lots again full of trailers and lots of salmon being caught.


Whether you are fishing with a guide or heading out on your own the one thing that hasn’t changed is that the early morning bite has been dominated by plugs whereas roe becomes the go-to bait once the sun hits the water. Back when I used to fish the river alongside some of the best guides like Greg Squires the guide secret was using sardine wrapped plugs along with a piece of crawdad mixed into the wrap. There’s some guys that still do that and it works.

Meanwhile, what I have been doing is nothing more than a sardine fillet wrapped on K-15 or 16 Kwik Fish. I wrap my plugs the night before, saturate them in Fire Power, put them in a container and fish them the next morning. To sum it up I don’t use the crawdads anymore, but the sardines are still part of the equation. The krill powder has been the hot ticket for me.


When the sun hits the water, though, I switch over to roe. And, the roe that’s being widely used on the Feather is different now a days, too. In fact, I couldn’t switch over to roe right away because I hadn’t been fishing the river and had no eggs to cure. This is when I called fellow pro staffer and friend Scott Feist. He was good enough to give me some eggs to get started. After I used his eggs and had immediate success with them I opted not to change anything and simply used Feist’s FireCure/Fire Power/BorX O Fire recipe that he’s been using on the Sacramento River with great success. For his recipe see his recent FireBlog


While the Feather River closes October 15 from Live Oak upstream, there’s still time to get in on the Feather River’s fantastic salmon run this year. The river is full of fish, which is a great sign for next year and year’s to come. I’m thrilled to be back on the river as I’m sure many of you are too.

Editor’s Note: Veteran Northern California fishing guide Rick Kennedy owns Tight Lines Guide Service. To learn more about Kennedy please visit