Feather River Steelhead Fishing Techniques

Feather River is a recommended destination for people who love to fish for Steelhead, Bass, and other species. If you are around California’s Central Valley, you can head here to experience bank fishing or enjoy the jet boats. The place is an artificial reservoir with multiple waterways and the main stem spanning 73 miles.

Among the species available, the steelhead is one of the fishes released every year, along with salmon. You can still catch up if you have missed the salmon season. So, it’s best to know what time of the year it is, especially if Steelhead is your target species.

Moreover, effective Feather River steelhead fishing techniques change with the season, given that water temperature changes along with fishing activities. You will have better luck catching steelhead at the streams, while using salmon roe as bait will increase that chance. But once spring arrives, you may want to change your bait to insects such as dry flies and nymphs. 

So, continue reading to learn the best fishing techniques for fishing Steelhead in Feather River!

How do you catch steelhead on the Feather River?

There are many factors that you have to consider to have a successful fishing trip at Feather River. Remember that you have to adapt your Feather River steelhead fishing techniques to the season. Bait is only one of the things that change with the environment. You will also need to consider the water location when fishing steelhead.

Know the Season

Catching steelhead can get tricky without knowing the season because they are fish that change location throughout the year. Monitoring what season it is will tell you what to expect and where to find them. Although steelhead can be found across the feather river, you are most likely to find them near the bank. Take note that this will only be the situation during the winter months.

The steelhead’s behavior will change, too, such as the spring-run ones that are far more stubborn than their fall counterparts. Although the ideal fly selection could vary during the spring season, bright-colored baits will constantly help catch steelheads. They will also prove useful in the summer, even if it is the most difficult time to make a catch. 

Aside from springtime, you will have the highest probability of catching steelheads in the fall because it’s their breeding time. It’s the most crowded season in the river, so try fishing in the lower area for a better experience. You might also have to change your fly selection into eggs, even if steelheads are not picky eaters.

Consider Water Location

Feather River covers a big space with steelhead spread out, indicating you have a high chance of encountering them. You must know if the fishing spot will suit the steelhead run of your choice for the season. Since steelheads move a lot, you can consider trying another location if you have had no luck with them.

You should consider the water’s depth because steelheads opt to rest in areas that are around two to three feet. Fishing in parts of Feather River beyond that level could make it harder to attract a steelhead using a lure. You might find them better in rocky and calmer water areas where they would be more protected and at ease. 

Prepare the Best Baits 

Also, you must know what bait would be best for the ongoing season since different ones could work more efficiently. Some may prefer insects over eggs depending on the steelhead run, while lures might even attract others better. Please pay attention to the sizes because a micro jig is enough to attract steelheads lurking at the bottom. 

Salmon roe is the recommended bait during the fall, but you can choose to buy artificial eggs as an alternative. Their scent is enough to attract steelheads. In addition, they have a soft texture that makes the fish want to bite long enough for you to pull. You can enhance the lure by soaking it in liquid krill to maximize its use.

How to best fish for steelhead on the Feather River?

There are many Feather River steelhead fishing techniques that you can do to use your fishing equipment better. Aside from adapting to the water current, exerting the right force at the right time will be equally important. Please don’t mistake underestimating steelheads regardless of their size because they can escape with their stubbornness and fighting spirit.  

You should always stay on guard for what’s to come. Given that they are an aggressive bunch, especially in the springtime, you might lose them if you use minimal effort. 

They also move a lot depending on food availability and surrounding habitat. The only time that the majority will stay in Feather River is during the breeding time, either summer or winter.

Which is the best bait for steelhead on the Feather River?

Many baits are available in the market, but you should ensure you have the right one. After all, it’s the key to getting that catch and making the process easier. Here are some of the baits known to be famous among steelheads.

Salmon Fish Eggs

Anglers often use fish roes because of the steelhead’s instinct to kill other eggs. It’s one factor that even makes artificial ones effective as a lure. However, instead of eating it, you’ll see that steelheads would only come to destroy it before other predators come.


These are a bunch of brightly-colored fly selection that easily rotates in the presence of currents. The bait easily flows to other areas, making it noticeable in narrow fishing spots with limited space. Steelheads that you might have overlooked could reveal themselves once they have gotten a sight of the spin-n-glo.

Trout Beads

Another bait that can work well when catching steelheads is the trout beads in many colors and sizes. It works similarly with the spin-n-glo in a way that it attracts attention easily. The bead’s brightness makes it stand out, causing other fish to perceive it as food or an enemy.

Which lures work best to catch steelhead on the Feather River?

What’s considered the best change depends on the situation, and that’s why Feather River steelhead fishing techniques must be adaptive. When choosing a lure, you must consider the size, color, and season when using it. But for general reference, we have included the best lures for fishing steelhead. 


When choosing a spinner, buy a size 3 or 4 for a better chance of catching steelhead in the Feather River. Consider the water’s clarity because buying a larger size would be better if you use it in dirty waters. 

On the other hand, you could buy a smaller one if the spinner is for shallow and clear areas. A silver or gold-colored spinner will be sufficient at times. However, you will have to use ones that produce vibration if you’re fishing at night.  


If you want to have an all-in-one lure that you can rely on in different water situations, consider a Kwikfish. One of its features is the back, and forth motion rattles the fish, making them want to go after it. However, it’s best to take care when reeling this so that it won’t float to the surface. 

Switching among different colors such as silver, black, and orange can be a good tactic to see what would work. Effective sizes will also vary, so it’ll be better to change what you’re using from time to time and experiment. 


Take it slow when using this and allow it to drift 5 to 10 feet from the cast. As for the color, go ahead with silver for a better fishing experience in Feather River. It’s also good to use a mix of green, but using brighter colors will work better in dirty waters.

Using a 2 to 3 inches spoon should be enough for smaller fishing spots. At the same time, you should also ensure that the weight of the bait will be manageable. The water’s depth and size are factors to consider to maximize the effectiveness of the spoon. 

Best techniques for bank fishing for steelhead on the Feather River?

Being in the bank limits your movement because you won’t be able to maneuver any more than your legs. You should take advantage of your position by knowing the necessary techniques for better execution.

Stand Far Enough from Shore

You wouldn’t want to be too close to the waters. After all, falling in it would make your energy and time wasted. If this happens, there’s also a huge chance that fishing activity would be interrupted, or worse, drive them away. Keeping time between casts is also recommended to allow the fish to return to the area.

Be on the Move

If you are not getting luck on this side of the river, don’t hesitate to move to another spot. Steelhead moves a lot and seeks places where there’s food, so you should do the same. Try going to the area where fewer people are because they might’ve driven them in this part of the waters.

Casting Baits

Maximize your equipment using both lures and eggs because any of those could work depending on water conditions. Lures would include spoons and spinners, which effectively get the attention of steelheads. Try using the roes if they are not working because they will be more effective, especially in the fall or winter.

Best techniques for boat fishing for steelhead on the Feather River? 

Sometimes, fishing steelheads can be better when done from a boat. It will give you the space you want since all you need is to cruise from place to place. But for better guidance, here are some tips on how you can do boat fishing productively.

Ensure Safety

Remember that you won’t be on land, making you more vulnerable to dangerous situations. Make sure you have brought the gear you need, such as fishing equipment and a first aid kit. Also, include any other essentials that will keep you comfortable during the day, like sunscreen and water.

Monitor the Waters

You might get yourself in danger instead of having a decent fishing day if you overlook the weather conditions. Inquire about the water’s situation from anyone you know if there has been a change after a high-water event. Being aware will help you become more prepared for the waters. It’s better to learn where you can anchor safely, given that any amount of waves can make boat fishing dangerous. 

Use the Best Reels 

The best size range for rods is around 10 to 12 feet, but this will vary depending on the location. It would help if you looked into centerpin reels and level wind reels to know which one will work better. Since fish can be picky, some anglers opt to use longer rods up to 16 feet.  

Steelhead Fishing in Feather River

Feather River is home to different species of fish throughout the year. Among the many fishes, the steelhead is widely available throughout the year. You’ll find them prominent in the fall but catching it won’t be that easy in the summer. To have a successful fishing experience, you have to consider various factors. 

It’s essential to monitor the season so that you’ll know what part of the Feather River you should fish. If the spawning season is over, you might try your chance better in rocky water areas with a calm current. The changing seasons will also give you an idea of the baits and lures that will work best. 

Adapting your fishing techniques to the water conditions is highly important. Brighter lures will work better in dirty waters than silver-colored ones. On the other hand, you might even need a vibrating lure for night fishing. Both color and size are important when choosing a bait because these factors change with fishing spots.

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