The North Fork Yuba River has been fishing very well from morning to early afternoon, then for the evening hatch. Water temps in the upper watershed are still on the cold side from 56 to 61 degrees, they will be a little higher the more one travels downstream. I’m very surprised how much water is still flowing down the river for the middle of July, and in the tighter sections with a steeper gradient, the water level is a tad high with less fishable water. The many springs that come into the river are pumping out good volumes of 42 to 46 degree crystal clear subterranean water. Fishing pressure has been moderate in the more easy access areas, and extremely light in the more remote sections.
It doesn’t get much better than this. Dry flies and eager small wild rainbows, wet wading in the cool water, and amazing flora and fauna. Rattlesnakes are out and I ran into the same snake in the exact same area as the past three years. I’ve decided to name him Larry since we seem to see each other so much. Larry did not coil this time or rattle, and just quietly moved back to his den. I like it when they do that. Fishing wise it’s been so damn fun for my guests and I. 1 to 3wt. rods, a good floating line like RIO’s “Light Line” series, and a 7.5 foot leader is all that is needed. You can fish a dropper off your dry, or just go with a single dry fly, sometimes they just want it on top and that’s when I’ll take the dropper fly off. Great dry fly patterns include yellow and orange Rubber Leg Crystal Stimis, Royal Wullfs, Purple Haze, E/C Caddis, Yellow Humpies, and the R/S Ant. Go to dropper flies have been Copper Johns in red, Psycho Prince, PT Flashback, and hard body ants that sink in black. The wild rainbows in the upper river have been small 4 to 10 inches, with the occasional brown. Downstream near Downieville you’ll get into bigger fish, with some planted fish. I’ve heard of some good reports in the evening down in this section with some fish from 14 to 16 inches.
Active aquatics flying around have been a few Golden Stoneflies, Yellow Sallies, PED spinners, Tricos Caddis, and Crane flies. For terrestrials it’s mainly been ants, and I have yet to see enough hoppers to warrant using one, but I’m sure they would get some grabs. It looks like the North Fork Yuba River will be in good shape for the rest of the summer. Just remember to take water temperature readings throughout the day and stop fishing when they reach 68 degrees or higher. The season is short on the NFYR, so get out there and enjoy one of the most beautiful watersheds in all of California.