By Melissa Wynn
Photos By Kevin Gates
As the winter moisture finally returns to Northern California the Feather River Fish Hatchery is setting us all up for some great Spring salmon fishing at Lake Oroville. In mid November Fish Habitat Assistant , Steve Brightwell, finished his stocking project at Bidwell Bay. This project added 139,348 new Chinook Salmon to the now rising waters of this stunning fisherman’s favorite.
In years past it was the Coho salmon that were stocked for anglers. This time the heartier Chinook breed, along with the always popular steelhead trout, will grace the lake and areas upstream when the spawning season occurs, giving us a summer filled with fishing fun.
Not only does the Feather River Fish Hatchery breed and stock for our fishing pleasure, they also provide year round fish viewing and education for Lake Oroville visitors. This intriguing hatchery located at 5 Table Mountain Boulevard in Oroville is divided into two sections. The fish barrier dam, observation platform and underwater viewing area are located on the east side of Table Mountain Boulevard. The underwater viewing windows offer their most outstanding fish viewing from mid-September through June. The spawning room, hatchery and rearing ponds are located on the west side of Table Mountain Boulevard. Salmon spawning operations can be observed Monday through Friday beginning mid-September until mid-November. This time of year its all about the steelhead spawning.
This wonder of mother nature is best observed mid-December through mid-February. Fish are present in the rearing ponds all year.
But the fun doesn’t end there. The annual Oroville Salmon Festival is held on the 4th Saturday of September. Come witness the return of the newly stocked Chinook Salmon. The streets of Oroville between Historic Downtown and the Feather River Fish Hatchery are sure to be bursting with fish-flavored activities during this fun filled festival. On this special weekend Oroville celebrates the thousands of spawning salmon that annually make their way from the ocean back up the Feather River. Environmental education, music, salmon tasting, tours of the hatchery and fun for kids and adults highlight this FREE event.
Read more about the hatchery at https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Hatcheries/Feather-River