Middle Fork Feather River - Sierra Tahoe

Middle Fork Feather River (Wild River Zone)

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Middle Fork Feather River

Suggested Flies for MF Feather River
Sierra Tahoe Hatch Selection

Gold Ribbed Hares Ear #14-16
Birds Nest #14-16
Prince Nymph #14-16
Burk's Hunchback Infrequens #14-16
Little Yellow Stone Nymph #14-16

Light Cahill Catskill #12-16
Parachute Adams #14-16
Elk Hair Caddis #12-16
Yellow Humpy #14-16
Parachute Madam X #14-16

Morrish Hopper #10-12
Parachute Hopper #10-12

Woolly Bugger #8-10
Mohair Leech #8-10
Marabou Muddler #8-10


Middle Fork Feather directions From Oroville Quincy Highway at Bucks Lake, take FS Road 23N18 south for 3.5 miles to Gravel Range Road. Follow Gravel Range Road another 2.5 miles to the spur road that goes to Hartman Bar Trailhead. To get to Ravine Trailhead, take Gravel Range Road for 5 miles to Sky High Road, follow Sky High Road for 1.3 miles and turn right following a dirt logging road to the trailhead. To Oddie Bar and No Ear Bar, take Schneider Creek Road (23N16) from Oroville Quincy Highway at Meadow Valley to Tamarack Flat in 5.5 miles. Continue another 3.5 miles to FS Road 23N99, follow FS Road 23N99 2.7 miles to the trailhead.
For the south rim approach, take Lumpkin Road out of Oroville and proceed to Road 27. Follow Road 27 to Hartman Bar Ridge Road (22N94) for 18 miles, take Milsap Bar Road to the west and a 2 mile dirt road spur will end at the Hanson's Bar trailhead. Hartman Bar Ridge Road will also give access to the Ravine trailhead about 3 miles from the Milsap Bar turnoff and the Hartman Bar Trailhead, 5.5 miles from the Milsap Bar Turnoff. Near Table Mountain, you can reach Stag Point Trailhead off Hartman Bar Ridge road as well. The Cleghorn trailhead is reached from the Quincy LaPorte road, taking Cleghorn Bar Road 8 miles to the trailhead.

MF Feather The Middle Fork Feather River is one of the original streams named within the Wild Trout Program and designated as a Wild and Scenic River for the State of California. The name "Feather River" came from Captain Luis Arguello in 1820 when his party explored this area and noted the large number of feathers that were drifting down the river from the local waterfowl. It is about 85 miles long flowing from Sierra Valley, in the middle of Plumas County, to Oroville Lake. Above the town of Sloat, the river is a freestone stream with easy access along Hwy 89. Much of this area consists of hatchery plants. The better fishing is downstream of Sloat where the river enters a rugged canyon with almost no access. Access can be from the Quincy Oroville Road to the north rim or using the Oroville La Porte road or Lumpkin Road to the south rim. Within the canyon, the river consists of large pools with long runs and riffles holding wild Rainbows within the faster waters and large Browns inhabiting the pools.

The season usually starts around mid-June when the runoff begins to recede and continues until the end of the season in mid-November. Most fish are in the 10-14 inch category. Yellow Humpies, Elk Hair caddis, and other attractor patterns are used. Generally, tight line nymphing is used throughout the season in the deeper pools and slots. In June, small Golden and Black Stoneflies hatch with most using nymph patterns of these insects. Between mid-June and mid-July , there is a small cream-colored mayfly hatch that comes off, a Fall River Special or Light Cahill in sizes 12 to 16 will work. Through July and August, an olive and light brown caddis hatch usually appears in the evening hours. Try an emergent caddis pupa within the riffles and slicks. During the midsummer days, grasshopper patterns work well with a small bead head dropper. September can be a difficult month as the water warms. The best fishing during this period is in the morning or evening when the sun is off the water. During this time, try an attractor dry with a beadhead dropper. In October, the October Caddis Pupa works well and the BWO and Isonychia will start to hatch. Fish midday with small nymph patterns. Griffith's Gnats are a good midge indicator here also. In the pocket water, try nymphing without an indicator.

Hartman Bar: Can be reached from either the north rim, 3.7 miles with a 2700' drop or the south rim, 2.9 miles with a 2300' drop. A popular trail from either rim with a good suspension footbridge crossing the river and undeveloped campsites on either side of the river. This trail is preferred by those that use horses. Below the footbridge is excellent fly fishing that is easily accessible for a half mile downstream with rainbows mostly in the 12 inch class. Above the bridge is a large pool that extends about a 1/4 mile. Canyon gets tight beyond those areas and requires rock climbing.

Willow Creek: This creek has mainly Rainbows near the confluence with the MF Feather and Browns in the upper sections. You can access the upper sections from numerous logging roads south of Bucks Lake. The upper section is thick with willows, thus it's name.

Hanson Bar: This is a steep trail covering 1.5 miles with a descent of 2300'. Once you reach the river, there is another trail that follows the river for two miles upstream but most parts of this trail are in steep areas inaccessible to the river. The river in this section has some long pools with pocket water between the pools. Mostly rainbows in the 12" class.

Stag Point: This is a 4WD trail covering 2.5 miles with a 2800' descent. Has an undeveloped campsite with fire ring and pit toilet. Good river access for 2 miles upstream. Has both pocket water and pools. Rainbows in the 12" class.

Bear Creek: Take the PCT to the confluence of Bear Creek. You can get to the PCT from Deadman Spring trailhead. Lots of Brown trout but small.

Butte Bar: Coming from the South rim, this is probably the easiest access to the MF Feather canyon. The trailhead is just 1.2 miles and drops 1000'. The trail is part of the PCT which crosses the bridge and proceeds to the North rim. From the bridge there is good access upstream and a little bit below the bridge, mostly rock hopping below. Upstream is much flatter and wadeable and crossable. Rainbows, 12" average.

Cleghorn Bar: The trail is a 4WD trail that covers 3.3 miles with a 1900' descent. This is a popular fishing destination where there are large pools with a classic freestone riffle-run-pool structure. Streambed is wide and easily accessible. Plenty of rainbows in the 12" class but a number of larger trout as well. Use Stimi's and Humpys almost any time. Hoppers work well in July to October.

Oddie Bar: This trail is 1.5 miles long with a 1700' descent from the north rim. Similar to Cleghorn Bar, the river has a wide streambed and a classic freestone riffle-run-pool structure. Plenty of rainbows around 12" but some much larger.

No Ear Bar: This trail originates from the same trailhead as the Oddie Bar trail. It spurs off to the northeast and goes about 1 mile to No Ear Bar with a 1200' descent. The river structure is very similar to Oddie Bar. Plenty of Rainbows in the 12" class.

Bucks Lake: This area was first settled by Horace Bucklin in 1850. At the same time, James Beckwourth was directing wagon trains of settlers past this area to cross the Sierra at Beckwourth Pass. Locals soon came to recognize the area as Bucks Ranch. The ranch became a lake in 1928 when the Feather River Power Company built a dam and is now owned by PG&E. Bucks Lake contains Rainbows, Browns and Brookies along with Mackinaw Trout and Kokanee. The lake has marginal spawning areas, so the fish need to be stocked several times during the year. Flyfishing is generally during the spring and fall when the fish are in the shallower areas along shore. Float Tubing is best working the inlets where Mill Creek, Bucks Creek, Haskins Creek, and Right Hand Creek come in. Large nymph patterns as well as streamers and woolly buggers work well in the Spring. The trout will cruise in 3-8 feet of water. There is a small callibaetis mayfly and midge hatch that occurs near the springs. Use a number of Callibaetis patterns or midge pupa patterns with an indicator. During the Summer months of August and early September, the surface temperatures of the lake are too high and the fish are deep, usually out of reach for fly fishing. In the Fall, the fish are scattered over the lake looking for food, particularly along shorelines but the browns move into the inlet areas getting ready to spawn. Shoreline fishing works just as well as a float tube. There is also a dark caddis hatch during the Fall in which dark-bodied caddis are very effective.

Lower Bucks Lake: (5,021' ele) can be a good alternative during the mid-summer months as this water remains cooler from the diversion of Buck's water to the powerplant at Grizzly Forebay. The levels can fluctuate quite a bit due to the powerhouse draw. Look for structure near the large cove at the boat ramp to hold large Browns. Midges are a primary food source in Lower Bucks Lake. Griffith's Gnats and Midge pupa patterns work well. Another good spot to try is the north side of the lake where a pipe from Three Lakes empties near the dam. In Spring and early Summer, large Browns will wait in these areas for food. Use large streamers.

Grizzly Creek: This creek has a population of wild rainbows and browns that orginated from the Grizzly Forebay. The streambed is polished from the water flow that PG&E controlled by diverting water from Lower Bucks Lake to Grizzly Forebay. They no longer need the diversion but the activity created a polished rock streambed with numerous carved out pools holding the wild trout. You can access the creek from the Oroville Quincy Highway that runs alongside the creek.

Little Grass Valley Reservoir is stocked with Rainbows and has an occasional Brown. Spring and Fall is the best time here when the trout are feeding nearer the surface. During the summer month, early morning and evening is your best bet, particularly with midges. Use small Brassies, Griffith's Gnats, and Blood Midge pupae. The six campgrounds (Black Rock, Little Beaver, Peninsula, Red Feather, and Running Deer) around the lake provide for nearly 300 campsites.

Fishing Regulations

Middle Fork Feather River:

Last Saturday in Apr. through Nov. 15. No restrictions. 5 fish limit. Ten in Possession

Little Grass Valley Reservoir:

Open all Year. 5 fish limit.

Bucks Lake:

Open all year. No restrictions. 5 trout per day. 10 trout in possession. 10 landlocked salmon per day. 20 landlocked salmon in possession.

Bucks Lake Tributaries

Saturday preceding Memorial Day through Sep. 30. 5 trout per day. No gear restrictions. Summer only fishing to protect Spring and Fall Spawning.

© 2021 Steve Schalla
This page is not to be copied without my explicit permission.


Hartman Bar, MF Feather Stag Point, MF Feather Stag Point. MF Feather Butte Bar, MF Feather North Fork Feather River Upper MF Feather River South Fork Feather River Cleghorn Bar Cleghorn Bar Little Grass Valley Reservoir Little Grass Valley Reservoir