Feather River in the Spring

A.A.

Active Member
I grew up in Paradise, CA and the Feather was my home steelhead river growing up. I was taught the ins and outs of steelhead nymphing by Larry and John at the Chico Fly Shop. I had a version of a dark brown size 12 bead head birds nest that was my go to nymph. Good times!
I didn’t get into swinging with two handers until I moved to Oregon. Now I’m looking at doing a trip back home this Spring and was hoping some of you would have some insights.
Feather steelhead and N Umpqua steelhead seem like different beasts. The Feather has Spring and Fall runs, vs Summer and Winter on the N Ump. Feather steelhead are a lot smaller, not to mention the half pounders. And I doubt I could get a N Ump steelhead to take a size 12 caddis nymph. And I don’t know if I would throw a big intruder at a feather steelhead. Of course, before I knew what I was doing I did hook a Feather Steelhead on an egg sucking leech on a tight line at the head of a run.
So any ideas for good spey flies for the Feather? Micro intruder? Marabou muddler? Anyone spend any time swinging the Feather. PMs welcome! Thanks!
 

FinLuver

Active Member
The NU has fish coming in all year. The early summers around April/May were called “springers”; they are the hottest fish of the year. Heavy nymphing is highly effective on the NU, which is why it is illegal in the summer, in the fly fishing only section of the river.

With a half pounder run of steelhead, my guess, is the Feather may fish more like the Rouge or Klamath. Try smallish sized classic steelhead hair-wing flies; as well as, trouty flies.
 

A.A.

Active Member
The NU has fish coming in all year. The early summers around April/May were called “springers”; they are the hottest fish of the year. Heavy nymphing is highly effective on the NU, which is why it is illegal in the summer, in the fly fishing only section of the river.

With a half pounder run of steelhead, my guess, is the Feather may fish more like the Rouge or Klamath. Try smallish sized classic steelhead hair-wing flies; as well as, trouty flies.
My hottest, brightest, most acrobatic fish last year on the NU was an 8-10 lbs hen caught on May 4th (Star Wars Day!). Couldn’t decide if it was a late Winter or early Summer fish. I definitely can fish here in the Spring, but I’m thinking of going to the Feather for old time’s sake. Pay homage to my old stomping grounds. And won’t hurt to learn it a little better as a backup if flows are too high here.

Agree with the smaller troutier flies and smaller traditional steelhead flies.

Also, I’m still trying to understand the half pounders. Why only the Feather, Klamath, and Rogue? Just last week I took my dad out on an 8 mile float on my pontoon. He side drifted with soft beads and picked up 1 adult and 5 juveniles. The smaller trout were 12-15”. Why would they not be considered half pounders?
 

Jeremy Floyd

Veðrfölnir
My hottest, brightest, most acrobatic fish last year on the NU was an 8-10 lbs hen caught on May 4th (Star Wars Day!). Couldn’t decide if it was a late Winter or early Summer fish. I definitely can fish here in the Spring, but I’m thinking of going to the Feather for old time’s sake. Pay homage to my old stomping grounds. And won’t hurt to learn it a little better as a backup if flows are too high here.

Agree with the smaller troutier flies and smaller traditional steelhead flies.

Also, I’m still trying to understand the half pounders. Why only the Feather, Klamath, and Rogue? Just last week I took my dad out on an 8 mile float on my pontoon. He side drifted with soft beads and picked up 1 adult and 5 juveniles. The smaller trout were 12-15”. Why would they not be considered half pounders?
If they do not migrate to the ocean/humboldt shelf and return to winter in the rivers, they are simply trout. Half pounders have sea scales when thfirst come in.

The adventurers are the ocean bound fish!
 

A.A.

Active Member
If they do not migrate to the ocean/humboldt shelf and return to winter in the rivers, they are simply trout. Half pounders have sea scales when thfirst come in.

The adventurers are the ocean bound fish!
Adventurers...yes! Great info, thanks. I’ve been told that the half pounders go to the ocean, but always wondered how to tell if they’ve actually been there. How can you tell if they have sea scales? Smolt chrome up before heading out. Is there a different appearance to the scales when they return? And how long do they stay in the ocean? And why only the Feather, Klamath, and Rogue? So many questions!
 

A.A.

Active Member
So I looked up some info on half pounders. It looks like a lot of the info is based on microscopic changes of the scales indicating periods of fresh and salt water. They enter the ocean for around 4 months, and for whatever reason decide to go back to the river.

My own hypothesis: They are the fish who happen to be attacked by predators early on and say “Forget this place, I’m going back to the river!”
 

Robert Engleheart

Robert
WFF Supporter
Dennis P. Lee wrote a very good book on 1/2 lb’ers.
He also ties some nice flies.
Talked with person who fishes the American and Feather, he uses soft hackles in 12-16 or smaller if hatch appears. They do eat. I’ve had good luck with a Golden Stone in #8 on North Coast.
 

ChrisC

Active Member
I grew up in Paradise, CA and the Feather was my home steelhead river growing up. I was taught the ins and outs of steelhead nymphing by Larry and John at the Chico Fly Shop. I had a version of a dark brown size 12 bead head birds nest that was my go to nymph. Good times!
I didn’t get into swinging with two handers until I moved to Oregon. Now I’m looking at doing a trip back home this Spring and was hoping some of you would have some insights.
Feather steelhead and N Umpqua steelhead seem like different beasts. The Feather has Spring and Fall runs, vs Summer and Winter on the N Ump. Feather steelhead are a lot smaller, not to mention the half pounders. And I doubt I could get a N Ump steelhead to take a size 12 caddis nymph. And I don’t know if I would throw a big intruder at a feather steelhead. Of course, before I knew what I was doing I did hook a Feather Steelhead on an egg sucking leech on a tight line at the head of a run.
So any ideas for good spey flies for the Feather? Micro intruder? Marabou muddler? Anyone spend any time swinging the Feather. PMs welcome! Thanks!
I've done well using also using an egg sucking leech on the Feather. Likewise on the Trinity below the dam. That's all you really need. For half pounders on the Feather, I've found dead drifting a Mercer's Z-wing very effective.
 

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