If you’ve been hiding under a rock like a skwala stonefly in the last week, you’ve missed out on another major event when the surge of water from Englebright Dam and Deer Creek topped 16,000 cubes early Saturday morning on the 30th. High snow levels with heavy rain on a decent sized snowpack equaled in heavy runoff for all forks of the Yuba. The North Fork Yuba flowed above 10,000 cubes as well at Goodyears Bar. I was down at the river on Saturday and it was pumping, and of course it was the color of chocolate milk.
Today on Wednesday the 3rd I went to the bottom most access and worked my way upstream taking samples of aquatic insects, clarity, movement of river material, and any noticeable damage at several stations. I did not find many bugs while rolling rocks like I did last week near the shore. I did find a few small baetis nymphs and March Brown nymphs (clingers). No stoneflies at all, and no fresh shucks either. I did see two skwala fliers and a few caddis, but that’s it. Clarity today was about a foot and a half, and the side water was a tad clearer than the main flow. Current flows this Wednesday evening is a combined 1,285 cfs. I fished very little today, even chucked the bobber around for about 30 minutes but no grabs. I would highly recommend fishing darker patterns for sub surface presentations like a brown Jimmy Legs with a red San Juan trailer, and plenty of weight. Dark day, dark water, dark fly.
The past high flows finally moved some of the log piles that were placed by US Army Corps in conjunction with US Fish & Wildlife, and other federal, state, local agencies and NGO’s at the Lower Gilt Edge location. Each log is tagged with a metal plate with a number stamped in so information can be recorded such as distance traveled, and location. These logs will enhance the critical habitat needed for Chinook salmon and steelhead throughout the Lower Yuba River watershed in the years to come. I noticed some of the logs did not travel too far and got hung up in the willows, but it’s only a matter of time before big flows move them again.
Idle pools of water were left behind once the 16k flows dropped, and I noticed that there were dozens of salmon fry trapped within them. I have seen this before on the Middle Fork Feather River after big water events, and after the 2 day artificial whitewater flows on the North Fork Feather River came down. A lot of material was moved in certain areas during this last surge of water, especially steep high banks on the outside of corners in the river. One area in particular really filled in above the Hwy. 20 Bridge, last week it was thigh deep on me, today it was only ankle deep. The plus side of this is that it did create a nice transition zone that the fish will benefit from in the future.
Warmer temps and sunny weather will start to engulf the
Lower Yuba River starting Friday and getting progressively warmer into next
week with highs from 70 to 75 in the central valley. Good for getting the
skwalas going again, but it could also melt more snow adding more of a flow,
and muddy silt laden water to the system. The fish still have to eat and as long
as they can see your fly there is no reason not to wet line. See ya out there…