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Lower Yuba Fly Fishing Report

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Lower Yuba Fly Fishing Report

Jon Baiocchi Reports on 1.2.2020

It sure is nice to be guiding in temperatures that are a little more warmer than that of the Yampa River in Co. The Yampa report from and yesterday’s session was brutal, low of -1, and a high of 15. It’s been chilly during the morning hours here in Nevada City, and unlike Colorado, the air is much moister which you tend to feel in your bones more. I’ll take it for now. Fishing on the Lower Yuba has been good if you can find the areas that are holding heavier concentrations of fish, which in turn will result in higher catch rates – If the planets are aligned. I have an acquaintance that works for CA DFW, and in his early years working for the department, he snorkeled the Lower Yuba River studying macroinvertibrates and fish behavior. During these studies he told me that there would be sections of the river that were devoid of trout, while other areas were bountiful. Turns out it’s all about the most abundant food source for that given time, plus the resident trout on this river move around a lot depending on where those significant food sources are. Flows have been stable at 1,360 cubes, a good flow that compliments both drifters, and walk and wade anglers. According to the YubaWater Agency’s website “With no significant storm activity in the current forecast, we expect to maintain 1,200 cfs until storm activity and snow pack dictate higher releases. From Jan. 1 to Jan. 15, the minimum flow at Smartsville will increase to 1,000 cfs, and will decrease to 700 cfs on Jan. 16. The minimum flow at the Marysville gage for January is 500 cfs. Currently, Englebright releases are being held at 1,200 cfs. Flows from Englebright are managed to ensure that they don't drop below the minimum required flow”. Fishing pressure is moderate overall. It’s that time of year when you can sleep in a bit more as the best fishing is from just before noon to late afternoon.

The Skwala stoners are out, a little early but not by much. I was surprised to see as many shucks as I did over the past two days. They’ve been pre staging in the idle slack water downstream of riffles over the last month. Many of my clients are put back by how small the Skwala stonefly is compared to Goldens, and Pteranarcys. Your flies should be close to the same size for both the nymph and the adult. You can see here a stillborn that started to emerge, than failed. I’m surprised the birds didn’t get this one. It’s good to see the songbirds once again, my old friends are back on their favorite perches waiting to intercept passing aquatics in the breeze. Black Phoebes, Ruby Crowned Kinglets, Yellow Throated Warblers, and Townsend’s Solitaire in the mix. If you see birds starting to dart back and forth from their perch, you can anticipate that a hatch is about to go down, while putting yourself in a good run and waiting for the trout to respond. Mother Nature will provide the clues if you stop casting, and observe more. Skwalas are most active during warmer air temps and are in the foam and bubble lines in the afternoon. The majority of the fish are not keyed in on them yet, but they will be. I’m hoping the river does not blow out like this year and continued for months. We had serious game last January on the surface until February came along, and you know the rest of the story – Whooosh! Mating has already started. Stoneflies live a long time for an aquatic bug and can mate several times, unlike a mayfly. I also like to point out how much bigger the female is compared to the males, having two sizes of both nymphs and adults can up your odds. #12 2xl for the male, #10 2xl for the female. Check out my article in the December 2014 issue of California Fly Fisher magazine for the complete details on the Skwala hatch. I really dug deep with the information shared on this one. There have been decent hatches out, nothing profuse but that should change here in the next month. Many different mayflies including the big Brown Dun (Ameletus) #10, BWOs #18, PMDs #14, and Pinkies (Epeorus) #16. Yesterday after noticing the birds eating rapidly from their perches, we put ourselves on a good flat and sure enough we had BWOs coming off and multiple rising fish. Unfortunately, the show was over in 20 minutes. There is also a sprinkling of micro caddis out as well, but mayflies taste better to the wild rainbows. The weather looks to be perfect in the next week with a mix of sun and clouds, plus a chance of light rain on Saturday. It’s all systems go for the Lower Yuba River, and the fishing will only get better once the fish figure out the Skwalas are in the drift during the afternoons – Looking forward to that! See you on the water…

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