I’ve fished the Lower Yuba River twice in the last week as the flows have come down to 3,592 cubes. As the water drops there is new and interesting terrain exposed like side channels, islands, and side sloughs. Hammonton road on the south side that borders the river is gone after the washout, off road enthusiast have already carved out a new spur road that makes it passable. However, you will need a high clearance vehicle. The clarity of the water today was about a foot, last week before our last storm it was right around a foot and a half. The color of the water is not chocolate milk, as in weeks prior, and has a light greenish tint to it. As you would expect, fishing pressure is light. I’ve been swinging black bunny leeches and have yet to get a grab. If the clarity improves we’ll have a better chance of hooking into some fish. The river seems lifeless, and the only aquatic insects I’ve seen are midge adults, no mayflies, or stoneflies whatsoever. I have not found any salmon smolts either, even in clear back bays, or areas of pooled water. The redds got hit hard from the high water events and we’ll see fewer salmon in the years ahead. Hammon Grove Park and Sycamore Ranch are still closed. I have yet to see if we have a take area left from the high water, it’s unknown, and I’m very interested in seeing the results as soon as possible.
Local guides including myself, and members from Gold Country Fly Fishers had a 3 hour meeting with Rachel Hutchinson, River Science Director for the South Yuba River Citizens League. Rachel shared some really cool habitat improvement projects that will be implemented in the next 3 years and beyond. The projects will focus on creating more braided areas, and islands with side channels on the Lower Yuba River that will enhance both juvenile and adult salmon, steelhead, and trout. The latest floods have already helped to create the needed areas, but additional work with heavy equipment will be needed. Another angle that will be addressed is limiting off-road vehicles on the highly sensitive flood plain, and areas with native grasses. SYRCL’s vision for the future of the Lower Yuba River is promising. They have many volunteer programs like the Hammon Bat Willow project that I donate my time to, and if you would like to get involved, just give them a call, or an email to get on the list.
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