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Lower Yuba River Fly Fishing Report

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Jon Baiocchi / Baiocchi’s Troutfitters Reports on 1.27.2016

I’ve been on the river the last two days with my guests and have a very clear picture of the current conditions through observations. First off the river has really come down into shape, currently Englebright Dam is releasing 667 cubes, and Deer Creek is way down at 65 cfs. The water clarity is the issue that has put a bit of a damper on successful fishing. Yesterday it was about a foot and a half, and today it went from 2 to 3 feet. The side water away from the main flow is much clearer. I had heard that after the big spike of water that came down last week that the river had changed with a lot of cobble moving. I guided both the lower river and above the Hwy. 20 bridge and found neither to be true. There is still grass imbedded on the banks and in the river, and the aquatic insects barely were affected. I found numerous bugs while flipping rocks below the water’s surface including many baetis nymphs, golden stones, skwala stones, and free living caddis (Rhyachophila). What did get dislodged during the big flows was finer gravel, stones smaller than a baseball, and finally the algae that chokes the aquatic insects was scraped away. This is very good news that contributes to a healthier river.

Due to the off clarity the fishing has been slow, but then again my guests and were focused on the dry fly because the skwala stones are out! In fact today I saw at least 4 dozen that I counted. They were in the willows, amongst the cobble stones on shore, in the air flying, and on the water placidly drifting down with the currents. That’s the advantage of the walk and wade angler as they can observe conditions better than anglers and guides in drift boats. We had very few grabs today and no rainbows in the net, mostly due to the very off color water. We did see a few fish take some skwala adults on the side water, those explosive rise forms are hard to miss. Another cool surprise was seeing some fresh Gray Drake shucks on the cobbles near the water’s edge, and a few flyers in the air. Other aquatics witnessed today included a few blue wing olives, pinkie mayflies, and a couple yellow sallies. The fishing may have been slow but the weather today was to die for, warm and sunny. I’ve waiting a long time for a pleasant day like today. It was awesome!

Another round of heavy rain is forecasted from Friday into Saturday with very high snow levels at 8,000 to 9,000 feet. The second phase of the storm will be much colder with a chance of snow in the foothills. Another weak system moves in Monday into Tuesday with a chance of a 10 day dry period after such. With heavy rain and high snow levels (think melting snow) there’s a good chance to see high flows again on the Lower Yuba River, and be blown out again. We’ll have to wait and see how the conditions pan out. If so, the last half of the forecasted dry spell could allow us to once again to ply the shores with a skwala dry. Good luck out there, and see you on the river. Jon Baiocchi

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