Fly Fishing the Feather River for Steelheads.
By Al Mansky and Dave Fontaine
Dave Fontaine and I were lucky enough to fish the "Feather" for Steelhead in October and November and we had a BLAST.
In October our the river was full of Salmon, dead, swimming and spawning. Even though we were not targeting the Salmon, you could not help but hook into them. It reminded me of the twenty or so fishing trips that I've made to Alaska, for King's, Silver's and especially the Sockeye.
The river was just alive with Salmon and so were the Steelhead, feasting on the Salomon eggs. Our guide. Ryan Williams, hadn't seen this many Steelheads and the size of them in years. Dave and I, probably landed five or six each, that were between eighteen and twenty four inches. We had as many hits and misses, but who's counting.
It did make for a long day, with a three hour drive up and back, with a 6:15 am launch time. We basically had on both outings the whole river to ourselves. I had bought, at last years fly show, a new seven weight fly rod that I wanted to try out and I almost lost it. I failed to take the plastic off the cork handle. This all happened on our November trip. It rained on and off all day and the wind kicked up in the afternoon. Anyway, to make a long story short, I hooked up on a BIG Steelhead, at least I think it was a Steely, and when he took off, he pulled the rod right out of my hands, because the plastic on the handle was wet and so were my gloves. I was able to grab the rod just before it went out of the boat. Needless to say the fish got away, but I didn't loose my rod and reel.
The last five or six years I've been doing the Trinity River trip that Gary Prince has put together. The last few years the Trinity just hasn't been fishing well at all. In fact my last two trips on the Trinity, I've been skunked. I think that I've found a new river to fish, that holds both quantity and quality of Steelhead. I'm looking forward to my next rip on the "Feather", probably next spring. Fishing the "Feather" is more cost effective then fishing the "Trinity," considering the distance to drive to Weaverville, the cost for gas, lodging and meals. I'm not knocking the "Trinity," I enjoy fishing it and it does have some bigger Steelhead in it. I'll be fishing the "Trinity" again, but not just yet.
I know some of you guys have fish the "Feather" by walking the banks, with limited success on Steeles with occasionally hooking up on a Salmon. It seems to me, that in-order to really catch Steelheads you have to float the river and fish the riffles and seams. Of course, have the Salmon spawning at that time really helps the bite on eggs. Considering this was my first fishing trip out this years, I rate it a 100% success. I think that I've been bitten by the fishing bug and I need to scratch it some more.