South Fork Feather River-Sierra Tahoe

South Fork Feather River

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South Fork Feather River

Suggested Flies for South Fork Feather River
Sierra Tahoe Hatch Selection

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

Attractor Drys:
Royal Wulff
Parachute Adams
Elk Hair Caddis #12-16
Yellow Humpy #14-16
Rio Grande King
Parachute Madam X

Dave's Hopper
Parachute Hopper

Woolly Bugger #4-10
Mohair Leech
Marabou Muddler #4-10



South Fork Feather River Directions

From Quincy, take Highway 70 East through East Quincy to far edge of town. Turn South on La Porte Road and continue 30 miles to Little Grass Valley Reservoir. Continue another 13 miles south on La Porte Road to Sly Creek Reservoir. From Oroville, take the Oroville Quincy Hwy 162 to Forbestown Road and proceed to Lumpkin Road.

Notes:South Fork Feather River
The South Fork Feather River is the smallest of the Feather River forks. It's headwaters are the southwestern slopes of Pilot Peak. The river has four dams, each with diversion tunnels and powerhouses, to provide water and power to the Central Valley. Due to the water diversions most of the trout are small rainbows and browns. Some larger trout may be found within the tailwaters of Little Grass Valley Reservoir. There are access points at Golden Trout Crossing, the South Fork Diversion Dam and at Little Grass Valley Reseroir. The reservoirs are owned by South Feather Water and Power, an independent irrigation agency for Butte County, that constructed most of these dams in the early 1960's. Rainbow and brown trout are the dominant species throughout most of the South Fork Feather and fish surveys have shown a fluctuation between the two species as to dominance. Fish surveys from 1993 to 2006 indicate average fish counts of 55 to 1565 fish per mile from Little Grass Valley Reservoir to Forbestown Diversion dam. 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.

Little Grass Valley Reservoir: (1600 acres at 5,050' elevation) This lake was created in 1961 when a 210' rock filled dam was built on the South Fork Feather River. The lake has an average depth of 64 feet. Mainly stocked with Rainbows, in the 12" class, and some Browns. Stocking can exceed 35,000 fish annually. Popular with those that troll for Kokanee and the trout that go deep to about 35' during the summer. Spring and Fall are the best times for fly fishing while the trout are feeding within the shallows during the early morning and evening hours. The trout can get large here with 4-5 lb. Rainbows and Browns up to 10-15 Lbs reported, but often you will catch 12" size fish. The Kokanee can also get to 15-17 inches but you usually catch them in the 12" range. There are 8 campgrounds with over 300 campsites around the reservoir.

The reach from Little Grass Valley Reservoir to South Fork Diversion Dam is 9.1 miles. The streambed is mostly boulders and cobble with a 2.7 percent gradient. There are moderate amounts of spawning gravel within the middle of the reach.

South Fork Diversion Dam: (9 acres at 3,557' elevation) Dam is a concrete arch, 60 feet tall and 138' long, spanning the South Fork Feather. A tunnel diverts up to 600 cfs to Sly Creek Reservoir.

The reach from South Fork Diversion Dam to the confluence at Lost Creek is mostly boulder and cobble with a 3.1 percent gradient. It has a minimum amount of spawning gravel, mostly found in the lower section of the reach.

Forbestown Diversion Dam: Forbestown Diversion Dam is a dam located just 18.7 miles from South Oroville, in Butte County, in the state of California, United States, near Oroleve, CA. Dam was constructed in 1962 and is 81' high, covering 12 acres. A tunnel diverts up to 620 cfs to Ponderosa Reservoir.

Below Forbestown dam, the SFFR has an average gradient of 2.4 percent with a streambed of boulders and bedrock. There are numerous pools over 4 feet deep and small patches of spawning gravel measuring about 190 sq. ft. per mile. Cascades form a natural barrier 2 miles above Ponderosa Reservoir. Both Rainbows and Browns are within this reach.

Sly Creek Reservoir: (619 acres at 3530' elevation) This lake was also created in 1961 with a 289' rock and earthen dam on Lost Creek. This reservoir has steep banks, so it is best fished from a boat or float tube. The reservoir is full in the early Spring but is drawn down starting in July. Has two campgrounds with 53 sites, now managed by Plumas NF. From the town of Oroville, take Highway 162 east seven miles, then turn right and drive east on Forbestown Road (174). In the town of Woodleaf, take La Porte Road (120) east for about five-point-two miles. Turn left on Mooreville Road and drive three-and-a-half miles, or continue on La Porte Road two miles to Lewis Ridge Road. Contains Rainbow stockers about 12" and Brown Trout.

Lost Creek Reservoir: Lost Creek reservoir has a maximum a surface area of 137 acres at full pool, is about 1.46 miles long, has a maximum width of about 1,118 feet, and a maximum depth of about 99.5 feet near the dam. The dam is a 122' concrete arch dam 486' long. The reservoir shoreline length is about 5.75 miles. In a normal year, the reservoir water surface elevation fluctuates by about 14.6 feet. Water is normally released into Lost Creek through three low-level outlets or to the Woodleaf powerhouse on the SFFR through the Woodleaf power tunnel up to 620 cfs. Brown trout and rainbow trout were historically documented in the reservoir. In addition to those species, California roach and carp were captured in the reservoir during the 2004 surveys. California roach was the most abundant species, representing 79 percent of the fish captured, followed by brown trout. Rainbow trout and California roach were captured only in shallow water habitats. Brown trout were evenly distributed around the reservoir in both deep and shallow waters (from near-surface to 50-foot depths). Brown trout and carp were all captured as adults. Rainbow trout and California roach were captured as both juveniles and adults. This reservoir also has steep banks, requiring the use of a boat or float tube.

Lost Creek: Contains Rainbow stockers about 12". 3.9 miles of Lost Creek from the dam to the SFFR. Average gradient is 5.8 percent. Mostly a boulder and bedrock substrate. Gravel spawning beds are about 255 sq. ft. per mile.

Slate Creek: Contains Rainbows in the upper reaches numbering about 250 per mile according to fish surveys done in 1993 and 2005. A concrete diversion dam was buuilt in 1962 that is 62' high and 223' long. A tunnel diverts up to 600 cfs to Sly Creek Reservoir. The lower reaches of Slate Creek have primarily Smallmouth Bass due to the warmwater transition going into the N. Yuba confluence.

North Fork Yuba: From Sierra City (upstream of Indian Valley) to Bullards Bar Reservoir has a special regulation Winter-time fishing with single barbless hooks and 0 fish limit. The regular season is Last Saturday of April to Nov 15th. Spring prior to the run-off can be good for Rainbows when the water reaches 45 degrees or more and the flows are still below 800 cfs. There will be a run-off period in April and May that will be unfishable. By early June, conditions improve for fly fishing with mostly small rainbows. Stockers get planted around the campgrounds. The wild rainbows are outside of these stocked areas. During the summer months of August and September, the North Yuba gets too warm for trout fishing but there is a good Smallmouth Bass population, particularly around the cooler spring-fed tributary inlets. The Fall is an excellent fly fishing period in this section for the Browns that stage for a migration up into the Yuba for spawning. Some of these fish will hold over until spring, providing a chance to hook a trophy during the opening weeks of the season. Downstream of the Highway 49 bridge, the only access is by hiking or mountain biking. A gated road (closed to cars) at the north side of the bridge provides the easiest walk-in route, leading to Shenanigan Flat. This stretch of the river is most productive during the autumn with attractor dries and nymphs.


Fishing Regulations (Effective March 1st, 2021)

South Fork Feather River:

From Little Grass Valley Reservoir to confluence of Lost Creek (Sierra District) Last Saturday in Apr. through Nov. 15. No restrictions. 5 trout limit. Ten trout in Possession

Below confluence of Lost Creek (Valley District): Open all year. 5 trout.

North Fork Yuba River:

From Ladies Canyon Creek downstream to New Bullards Bar Reservoir. : From the last Saturday in April through November 15, five trout daily bag limit, 10 trout in possession; and, from November 16 through the Friday preceding the last Saturday in April, 0 trout bag limit, artificial lures with barbless hooks only and trout must be released unharmed and not removed from the water.

All other Tributaries:

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

Little Grass Valley Reservoir:

Open all Year. No restrictions. 5 trout per day. 10 trout in possession.

Sly Creek Reservoir:

Open all Year. No restrictions. 5 trout per day. 10 trout in possession.


Davis Bathymetric Chart

© 2019 Steve Schalla
This page is not to be copied without my explicit permission.


Devils Canyon, MF Feather Feather Falls Seven Falls Cascade Creek Below Little Grass Valley Reservoir Slate Creek, Spanish Ravine Little Grass Valley Reservoir Slate Creek Golden Trout Crossing Sly Creek Reservoir Sly Creek Reservoir Lost Creek Reservoir Forbestown Reservoir North Yuba, Indian Valley North Yuba, Indian Valley Campground New Bullards Bar Reservoir North Yuba Lake Oroville MF Feather