Lower Yuba River Fishing Conditions and Update
I’ve been on the Lower Yuba River for the last three days operating pontoon workshops and tours, the observations and real time experienced at the current flow of 1,035 cubes is eye opening. The “Newba” River, as coined by Jordan Romney is all that, and it is especially apparent at the lower flows. So much material has moved in that it boggles the mind. Many tail outs of runs are very shallow at this time. The main deep holes are still there, but have filled in to a degree at the head of them. The deep slot at “Clay Banks” upstream of Hammon Grove has filled in, but just upstream the high winter flows has created a new section of these banks, and now the deep slot is positioned there. The drift itself is relatively the same course, but also much different. Navigating in some sections is easier, and more technical in others. For example the rapid just upstream of “The Aquarium” is a swift short chute that leads into a large boulder, and has little room for error, a missed paddling stroke or line choice could be bad. The Sycamore Ranch take out is filled in with material to the point that a drift boat operator will have to drag the boat through a shallow portion of Dry Creek before reaching the concrete boat ramp. Some operators have backed their trailers over the park’s grass and down the embankment to the slough that connects to the main stem of the river. This is frowned upon by Yuba County Parks and Recreation as it is eroding the bank and unlawful. I expect them to block this area off in the very near future to deter others from doing so.
The fishery itself has changed from the high flows as well. At this time only smaller resident rainbows 8 to 12” are being caught, and I’ve yet to see any large specimens throughout the system. Those smaller rainbows are also fairly skinny due to the limited amount of food available to them. In our aquatic samplings we found immature Golden stones, Skwala stones, baetis, and March brown mayflies. The most prolific bug out of all the samplings was the Rhyacophila free living caddis, this is the only bug we found that was in a mature state. There was evidence of shucks from the stub wing stonefly (Claassenia sabulosa), but not in big numbers. At least a few made it to become adults and perpetuate the species. Our guests did best with hopper dropper rigs trailing a small baetis nymph, and swinging caddis emerger patterns. Standard bobber rigs also caught a few fish as well. In the last 3 days on the river from Parks Bar down to Sycamore Ranch only two salmon were observed. I spoke with a biologist from the National Marine and Fisheries Service yesterday and the laser counter at Daguerre dam had only counted 8 salmon that had passed through so far. It’s not looking good for the salmon populations at this time. Coming off a drought has had its effects, and in those years, the eggs that were deposited into the gravel did not survive due to dam operators cutting back the flows during spawing time, and leaving the redds high and dry. It amazes me that the Department of Fish and Wildlife has not closed off the interior rivers this year to the harvesting of the salmon and depleting an already fragile resource. If the salmon show up in bigger numbers on the Lower Yuba River, this may bring some bigger populations of rainbows upstream with them as they anticipate the egg drop. Only time will tell, keep your fingers crossed.