The North Fork Yuba River is firing on all cylinders right now and conditions are perfect. I’ve been focusing my trips in the upper watershed where there are numerous cold subterranean springs entering the river pumping in 42 to 46 degree crystal clear water. Water temperatures in the main stem river are 56 in the morning rising to 63 in the afternoon, the water temps downstream near Downieville will be a tad higher. Fishing just downstream of Haypress, Ladies Canyon, Jim Crow Canyon, and Slate Castle creeks is a wise move as they provide colder water as well. Best fishing is mornings to early afternoon, and then in the late evening. Fishing pressure has been on the light side but since the river has dropped into shape there are many more anglers out on the water. Finding remote untouched sections in the canyon will increase your odds for better fishing, and bigger numbers of fish. Bassetts Station downstream to Downieville is the preferred location to focus on. I have not seen any rattlesnakes this season and the extremely high water during winter may have flooded some dens, still though, look where you are walking and placing your hands, you never know.
High stick dry / dropper presentations are your best approach in the pocket water using a 7.5 foot leader to 5x. It is amazing how close you can get to your quarry when the water is blurry. Clear calm pools require a bit more stealth to avoid spooking the trout. Current adult aquatic insects flying about are Golden Stones, Yellow Sallies, creamy Crane flies, Caddisflies, and the occasional Dobsonfly. For dry flies yellow and red Humpies, Elk Hair Caddis, Stimulators in yellow and orange, Buzz Hackle, Adams Parachute, and don’t forget about hopper and ant patterns, they are very important during the dog days of summer. For nymphs Copper Johns in red and copper, Psycho Prince, flashback Pheasant Tails, Iron Sally, Sparkle Pupa, and the Zebra midge. 3 weight rods are best for these small wild rainbows, or you could use a 2 weight as well and have even more fun. If you’re tired of sweating bullets in this current Africa hot weather, do yourself a favor and wet wade in the cool bubbly waters of the North Fork Yuba River, and take in the fabulous sights and sounds of this most special watershed.