Well, I was going to try and hold off as late as possible for this report as the Lower Yuba River flows will surge once again in the afternoon hours of 12/15, but with a deadline off 12 noon on Thursday it was not going to happen. Let’s recap what happened on our last dose of big water that peaked on 12/10. I was off by a day when the big water would hit, but it did in a huge way! The river topped out at 25,149 cubes, Deer Creek was cranking and reached 5,130 cfs, and the water was spilling over Englebright dam. The conditions were pretty serious all the way up to the South Yuba River, and the Rainbow Lodge area got pummeled. Water levels have been dropping slowly but as of tonight still hover just under 6,000 cubes at the CDEC station at Parks Bar Bridge. We had a break on Sunday and Monday, and now we have another system slamming into the foothills with the heaviest precipitation on Wednesday night through Thursday. We won’t be fishing on the Yuba anytime soon, and your time tying flies will be better spent. With the high flows we’ll see some changes to the river bed as we did this past winter, but at what extent won’t be revealed until the flows come down, and the water clears. Northern California is truly the land of extremes. This has been awesome to witness even though it hurts my business, and I’m not complaining at all – We need the water, and with water comes life, and better conditions for wild trout, steelhead, and salmon in the long run. If we have another deluge of water you can check my personal Facebook page for the most updated videos and images. I really enjoy being an angler’s correspondent out in the field of such gnarly conditions, and sharing the latest information that affect us anglers.
With high water there is still some hope with angling opportunities if the water has at least 2 feet of visibility and is not a raging torrent. Fish the slack side water and swing dark large patterns like Olive slumpbusters, and black bunny leeches. You can also high stick a big stonefly pattern. This fish will either be at the bottom of a big pool, or right on the side water where they do not have to work so hard against the current. Which reminds me of a time fishing with my dad back in the day on the Mad River during high water, where we sat in lawn chairs and high sticked for steelhead at our feet. The look from other anglers was comical, but we really got into them with the “Liberace” fly. A pink and purple marabou one hit wonder that crushed them. Off color water can get you very close to your quarry, work it slowly and methodically. We’ll see what transpires in the next few days, stay warm, get wet, and stay tuned!