The Lower Feather river is one of the aquatic jewels of the Sacramento Valley. It flows out of Lake Oroville. The upper most section is referred to as the “low flow” because of water being sucked out and temporarily stored in a reservoir called Thermalito Afterbay. Ware the afterbay spits back into the Feather is the beginning of the “high flows”. Enlarged, it continues it’s meandering through the valley, east of the small community of Grimes. From there it sinuously flows through orchards of peaches, walnuts, almonds, and prunes and winds down to bisect Marysville and Yuba city. There it is conjoined with the cool currents of the Yuba River. Seaward it flows, passes under Highway 99 until merging into the Sacramento River at Verona.
Every year since the late eighteen hundreds, schools of Striped bass migrate up the Feather in early spring to spawn when the waters reach 58 to 62 degrees.
Yesterday, my friend Jim Lawson and I decided to seek out the linesides and so we contemplated which of the access ramps to launch my boat in order to fish somewhere between highway 99 and Yuba City. We had 3 choices. One was to put in at the bottom at Verona Marina on the Sacramento River just down from the confluence , or midway up the Feather at the Star Bend launch accessed on the eastward Marysville side, or further up at Boyd’s Pump on the westerly Yuba City side off of Old Garden Highway. I decided on Star Bend ware I hadn’t yet launched; besides this would position us midway between highway 99 and Yuba City, Marysville, making it easy to search up or down river.
I visited this launch site 15 years earlier. It seemed to be way in the middle of no ware with a reputation for car break ins. Back then it was a crude parking lot leading to a crude dirt road plowed down the leve bank to the water’s edge. This put you in a small slough. You would motor through very carefully towards the entrance to the main river. Some times the access was cut off by a shifting sand bar rendering the launch site unusable untill dredged out. Star Bend is no longer as such. Wow! How different it is now! You access it off of Feather River Blvd which intersects highway 70 just south of Marysville. You wind through fields of wheat and rows of orchards untill you come to the entrance leading you up and over a levy and down to a large beautifully paved parking lot. It looked like it could hold 30 or more boats. The paved launch is at the west end. It is a little steep and narrow making me think this could be a challenge in the dark. There is no dock to tie your boat to, so it would be best to have someone back down the ramp with you in the boat to start the motor and pull off to the side. This can’t always happen. There must definitely be some serious log jams on busy days. All in all, I was impressed with the metamorphosis. Oh! There was a pile of busted glass in one of the parking spots.
Hi ho, hi ho, A fishing we will go…It was a beautifull day, perhaps too much so. There were a bazillion boats! The fishing was great but the catching was minimal in between lots of casting of our 8 weights flinging clousers attached to fast sinking lines. Everyone kept saying, ” you should have been here yesterday.”We fished the classic holding water,the soft water cushions along the banks and behind islands.
We picked up a fish here, another there, and so on. My best striper of the day, about 4 pounds, came out of a bucket down stream of a huge sand bar cutting diagnoally across the midddle of the river.
Jim caught the big fish of the day. His fish pulled hard reluctant to leave a current seam behind an island.
All in all at the end of this gorgeous spring outing, it was a great day for friends to enjoy one another’s company. Tight lines, everyone!