Oroville salmon festival is Sept. 25, but no festival at Nimbus

By: George deVilbiss
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A reader e-mailed me a couple of weeks ago asking if there were going to be a salmon festival this year. Hannah had hopes of taking her fifth-grade class on a field trip for this fun and information-filled event. The festival was canceled last year with the Department of Fish & Game citing staff and budgetary constraints. This year, with no current budget and the state budget looking even bleaker, can the public expect another festival to go by the wayside? It took just about forever to finally connect with a human being in the know at the DFG’s Nimbus Hatchery. As expected, the spokesperson told me there again would be no salmon festival this year, and there was a good chance there would never again be a festival at the facility. He did say there were salmon festivals elsewhere: * At Coleman Hatchery at the upper end of the Sacramento River in Red Bluff. However, searching this site, I could find no evidence of a festival being held there this year. * In South Lake Tahoe, where it’s a kokanee salmon festival, but it has concluded. * At Feather River Hatchery in Oroville. The large event is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 25. The streets between historic downtown and the Feather River Fish Hatchery are packed with activities with a salmon flavor. Downtown Oroville comes alive with a pancake breakfast, farmer’s market, live music, crafts fairs and family fun. There is environment education and tours of the hatchery. Go to the Salmon Court and you can sample salmon prepared numerous ways with the recipes available. Best of all, the festival is free. OK, so Oroville is a good hour or more up Highway 70. But if it’s a salmon festival you seek, this one will rank among the best available. Though there’s no word on when the fish ladders will be put into the American River, when they are, you can visit the Nimbus Hatchery and watch the salmon as they come up the ladders into the holding pens. With a pocketful of nickels, you can feed the machine for fish pellets and let the kids toss them into the trout runs and see the trout boil in the water as they battle for the food. Current fishing It’s now fall, and the weather let us know a few days ago. While an Indian summer warm-up always is a possibility, I wouldn’t look for much warm weather, based on how the summer went. Lake Almanor: The lake hasn’t turned over, and the surface temperature is running 65-67 degrees. A massive plant of rainbows from 10-12 inches was made a few weeks ago, and these little trout can be pesky. I’ve caught and released up to 10 in one day. Most anglers don’t want these small fish and hold out in favor of rainbows and browns of more than 2 pounds. The east shoreline is still providing the majority of the action. A boat here and there can still be found trying the springs region of Big Springs, but the action is slow and anglers keep trying because it was “good in the past.” Those anchored or drifting bait such as crickets and meal worms in one cove near Big Cove Resort are being rewarded, sometimes with browns over 6 pounds. Trolling a threaded crawler or using a lure such as a Rainbow Runner, Speedy Shiner or Needlefish, bare or behind a dodger, has been working. Most have been going six colors of lead-core line and 32-39 feet down on the downriggers. With bait, I’ve been getting many short hits where they take the tail of the crawler and miss the hook altogether, but yet get a couple of 2- to 3-pounders every trip. Sacramento River salmon: Tryers are out, mainly working the stretch between Verona and Knights Landing, but the catching essentially is dead. However, if you’re there when a school moves through, which can never be predicted, you might get some action. There has been some catching further downriver, and those who don’t get hooked have to go upriver – some up the Sacramento, others up the Feather. Bar Area Region: The rockcod fishery has been blistering hot with limits the rule. There are big counts of lingcod and more than once boats have scored limits of big lings for everybody aboard. Some boats have done amazingly well on big Pacific halibut, too, with some of the butts hitting well into the 30-pound class. Eagle Lake: The weather has cooled with many nights dipping into the upper 30s. That puts this lake in transition, and the fish are on the move from the southern end and headed north. Limits of this special strain of rainbows are the rule with many hitting 3 pounds. Use a Sure Catch lure called Red Dog, a threaded night crawler or a bright two-inch grub. George deVilbiss can be reached at