Northern CA Freshwater

Afterbay largemouth bass move up on steelhead smolts

BY PAUL LEBOWITZ/WON Staff WriterPublished: Mar 13, 2019

OROVILLE — WON staff writer and guide Billy Driessen fished the Thermalito Afterbay this week, discovering an excellent bass bite both in the center of the lake and up in the shallows. The fish were keyed in on the stocked steelhead smolts and eagerly ate reaction baits.

WON FIELD REPORTER Bill Driessen of Driessen’s Guide Service slammed the bass at Thermalito Afterbay during a windstorm fishing with Nichol’s Custom spinnerbait in chartreuse transparent and 6-inch ABT wag-tail swimbaits.

Another fisherman might have given up before getting on the water. Driessen said the closure due to flooding of Hwy. 162 and Hwy. 20 forced him to drive an hour and a half around the lake to the main launch ramp. Once there, Driessen found the APBA Region 9 boat race time trials had the lake closed for their exclusive use. He was just about to leave when the time trials were abruptly cancelled due to 30 mph gusts, so Driessen decided to go for it despite the winds.

He ran over to the south side, through whitecaps, getting drenched, but found somewhat calmer water by the levy.

“I was throwing 3/4-ounce nickel spinnerbaits in transparent chartreuse, looking for weed beds and rock piles in 8 to 12 feet of water in the middle of the lake. I stuck a fish, the reaction bite was on, then switched to a 6-inch ABT wag tail swimbait and turned on spot lock on the trolling motor. I was making long casts with the wind and as long as the swimbait was on the bottom, I’d get 5 to 6 in a row, every cast, until I caught the whole school,” Driessen said.

Driessen said he caught many of his fish on healthy green grass. If he pulled up rotten, dead grass, he knew it was time to move.

By 1 p.m. the wind gusts were up to 40 mph, and that was finally too much for him, so Driessen went behind the boat ramp into shallows to get out of the wind. He made long casts towards a tule point and fished the same spot for an hour, catching 15 more bass on the ABT swimbait.

“They ate the paint off it,” Dreissen said, adding that his smallest bass was 2 pounds and his biggest close to 6. “The fish were moved up and staged to spawn in water anywhere from a foot to 3 feet deep.”

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