Every Inch of California’s 2nd Largest Reservoir Offers Great Bass Fishing
Many claim Lake Oroville is California’s best bass lake – although you may get an argument from fans of Clear Lake. Still, with 167 miles of shoreline, plenty of forage fish and a rocky bottom structure, Oroville is ideal for bass. Five species can be found there – largemouth, smallmouth, Kentucky spotted bass, red eye and Florida strain black bass. Not surprisingly, numerous bass tournaments are hosted here every year. Spotted bass are most commonly caught.
Lake Oroville was created when America’s largest earth-filled dam was built on the Feather River near the town of Oroville, 68 miles north of Sacramento. Its low elevation means excellent fishing is available year round, though spring spawning season is a particularly productive. The bass here can grow hefty. The lake record for largemouth bass is 14 pounds, 15 ounces, and for smallmouth 6 pounds, 2 ounces.
Jigging and drop-shotting worms are popular techniques. Surface lures like Spooks and poppers can produce top water action early on. Small spinner baits and cranks work too, especially on the steeper walls and long finger points. Bait fishermen use night crawlers and minnows. Work the banks up the lake’s various arms, particularly where cover is available.
Oroville Lake also offers other warm water species – sturgeon, white and channel catfish, bluegill, green sunfish and black crappie. A whopping 97 pound white sturgeon was caught in 1989, and the lake record for channel cats is 25 pounds.
For cold water fishing, rainbow and brown trout catches are coming back after a rough period when diseases drastically reduced trout numbers. The lake record for lake trout is 11 pounds. A king salmon weighing 19 pounds, 11 ounces was caught in 1987.
Like most low elevation lakes and reservoirs, cold-water species are found deep, especially during the summer and fall. Trolling at depth is the most common approach, typically 40-50 feet. The deep water near the dam and up the North Fork are productive locations. Interestingly, Lake Oroville is the only California lake that allows the take of coho salmon. These fish are bred at the nearby Feather River Fish Hatchery for planting.
There are two large marinas with boat ramps, rentals and supplies: Bidwell Marina is on the south end and Lake Oroville Marina on the north end. Launch ramps are also available at the Spillway, Loafer Creek, and Enterprise. Check water levels. Oroville is easily accessible and highly popular with house boaters and water skiers, so fishermen do well to get out early and frequent the numerous quiet coves and secluded inlets.
Visiting anglers may also want to try the Thermalito Afterbay, a nearby reservoir which is a part of the Oroville Dam system. An unusual but quite successful program of planting steelhead has produced a good fishery with catches running from 2 to 5 pounds. Trolling night crawlers behind dodgers is the recommended technique for these landlocked steelies.
Stampede Reservoir Started as a Preserver for Cui-ui, But It’s Become a Haven for The California Angler’s Favorite Fish
If you like High Sierra lakes, Stampede Reservoir deserves your attention. Stampede is located on the Truckee River about 15 miles northeast of the town of Truckee (on Interstate 80). It’s a high elevation lake – about 6,000 feet. Three other excellent nearby fishing lakes – Boca Reservoir, Prosser Creek Reservoir, and Donner make Stampede a favored base camp for people looking to take an extended vacation. Continue reading Discovering Stampede Reservoir→
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