What a storm! The wind is howling outside here in Nevada City and those conifers are flexing back and forth way too much. There has already been periods of heavy rains on Tuesday night, and as we head into the Wednesday evening we are bracing for the second wave. Up until this storm the Lower Yuba River was fishing pretty damn good. The good news is the Skwala stones are beginning to hatch and I caught my first Skwala eater last Sunday in the foam lines below a major riffle. My guest on Monday raised 4 on the Unit Skwala, and a couple more on the Pinkie mayfly. The fish will start to key in on Skwalas in the weeks ahead and head for the side water where the largest percentage of Skwalas are found from noon to 4pm. Look for the hatch to peak near the third week of February, and don’t forget the Skwala stone lives for a about a month or longer, unlike a 24-hour mayfly life cycle. Not as many trout rising as a few weeks ago and it seems the mayfly hatches are waning, or maybe in between broods for now. The more bugs, the more a rhythm riser will be at station and feed consistently.
After a number of trips with my guests, I would say the two most critical mistakes are not making the correct mends for a dead drift while nymphing, and inaccurate casting to rising fish, or over casting and lining them. The dry fly game is much tougher on the flats and you can put down a rhythm riser with bad presentations. It’s much easier in choppy water or riffles as it masks your mistakes.
There are good numbers of salmon fry and fingerlings in the system and the trout seem to be keyed in on them. I’ve been using the single bunny fly with a gray top and white bottom of Rabbit strips with pearl krystal flash down the lateral line. This is a great pattern as it has life like movement and is super durable compared to marabou. The fly is about 2 inches long. Also last Sunday I swung up to Joey’s, those 10 to 12” sliver bullets that put a good bend even on a 6 weight. My rig for swinging these minnows is a RIO 1.5 - 4ips Versi-Tip with about 4 feet of 4X floro.
The Yuba blew out this morning with Deer creek rising sharply and adding in too much color. The river forecast shows the Yuba River reaching near 9,000 cubes on Thursday afternoon. If Yuba Water Agency does not make any large releases from Englebright dam the river will clear quickly once the rain stops. If you’re looking to improve your skills set or learn more about the Lower Yuba River and the Skwala hatch, I have some open days available in the next month. Give me a call at 530.228.0487, or shoot me an email at
See you on the water…