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Lower Yuba Fly Fishing Report

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Jon Baiocchi reports on 12.6.18

Northern Sierra

11/29/2018 - Conditions remain good on the Lower Yuba River and this past week gave us some wild weather from heavy rain, to extreme wind, and a few breaks in the action. Lots of anglers out on the river yesterday, you’ll get that after a series of storms keep you inside and getting the shack nasties. The much-needed rainfall raised the river up a tad with a few minor spikes to 1,507 cubes being the highest. Currently, the river is flowing at 1,008 cfs, and the water clarity is really good with just a tint of color, though it will clear up and keep those trout spooky. More rain today, then another break with more weather coming in this coming Tuesday through Thursday. More mayfly weather is a good thing. Birding has been excellent on the river with Bald Eagles, Ospreys, Copper’s Hawk, Red Tails, Flickers, black Phoebe’s, bluebirds, marsh wrens, Canadian honkers, yellow and white crested sparrows, California gulls, and the U2 of birds: the Turkey Vulture.

The Lower Yuba Fishery is a special fishery, and most of that has to do with the diversity of aquatic insects. Being that it is a tailwater on the Central Valley floor the water stays within a pretty even temperature, and mild air temps allow for much more profuse hatches. Every day is different on a tailwater, though a few hatches like BWOs and Skwalas, for example, run their course for months, day in and day out. A good example would be the Pale Morning Dun pictured above, a subspecies that has three tails but are a different color than a standard PMD. Tail configuration with adult mayflies is one clue as to what kind of mayfly it is, a true Pink Albert mayfly has only two tails. From nymph to dun can be rather confusing for fly anglers. The BWO nymph has three tails but when it emerges into a dun it only has two tails. All types of presentations remain effective, and an angler can switch it up during day and fish all three. Nymphing has really picked up in the last week, probably due to the rain flushing more aquatics in the drift. One tip I’d like to share is many fish are being picked up at the head of the riffles in swifter water. This makes sense since many salmon redds are usually in the tailouts of a run directly upstream, and remember when salmon cut their redds many bugs are stirred up and race down with the current. Jimmy Legs, FB Pheasant tails, Copper Johns in red, black, and olive, worms (red & flesh), Military Mays, S&M nymphs, eggs, and free-living caddis patterns are receiving the love right now. Dry fly fishing remains extremely good when you have targets to cast to, a good presentation is often needed to get a take. Loop Wing bwos seem to be the most favored, but sparkle duns in bwo, pmd, and pinkie schemes are also being taken. For extremely picky risers try a flat wing spinner in the film. Swinging has not been as effective as the latter two but it is such a simple and fun way to fish. Softies, alevins, and salmon fry in gray and white are staple flies to use right now. 22 days of fall left and we are not even into the legendary winter dry fly fishing yet, exciting to say the least!

During the past week of storms I’ve actually seen a few salmon coming up through the riffles, so there are salmon swimming upstream and most others are spent and going with the flow downstream. I’ve heard many anglers say how good the salmon run is this year but if you were at the Yuba Fest you would have heard Melinda Booth from the South Yuba River Citizens League state that this year’s run (as of October 10th) was the worst on record. It was the pulse flows that occurred from 10/17 to 10/24 in conjunction with a full moon phase that triggered more salmon to make the journey upstream making this year’s run salvageable. Walk and wade anglers still need to steer clear of salmon redds and not wade through them. If you’re out on the river and see anglers walking through redds, be a real steward of the river and calmly explain the situation and educate those that are not in the know. You don’t have to be a dick and yell at other anglers, that attitude is not the most effective. Anglers are hungry for knowledge and really want to learn about the Yuba River. My guide service is based off just that, sharing the knowledge from reading water, rigging, nymphing, dry flies, swinging, entomology, and fly selection to name a few. If you’re looking for a better understanding of the Yuba River give me a call at 530.228.0487 or email me at to book your trip. Thanks for all the emails of praise lately, and all the support, it is much appreciated! See you on the water…

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