Your cart
Close Alternative Icon
Close Icon

Northern California Fly Fishing Report

Arrow Thin Left Icon

Brian Clemens Reports on Happy New Years Everyone,

I am hoping that everyone had a great and safe New Year and a very Merry Christmas. Where did the 2019 season go? Cant believe 2020 is already here.
I have always loved the new year, it brings openers on rivers in Nor Cal, new license purchases, the start of the NFL Playoffs and new years resolutions. But it also means planning for 2020 fishing adventures and there is no better time than now. With the late 2019 season rains, that were much needed, they brought new life to many of our Nor Cal rivers and Im really looking forward to late winter and early spring.
Here is you 2020 Nor Cal New Years Fishing Report

TRINITY

Flows: 300 Lewiston, 350 DC, 470 JC, 660 Del Loma
Clarity: Clear
Fishing: Good to Great

The December rains really woke up the Trinity from working hard for a few fish to hooking consistent numbers under an indicator as well as swinging. The fish are not as big as usual, but what they lack in size they sure make up in pure spunk. On average, we are hooking 4-8lb fish and each one has been a firecracker. The Trinity will have steady fishing throughout the rest of winter and into early spring. Whether you want to swing, throw dries (Feb/March) or nymph for winter steelhead, the trinity is one of the better choices right now in Northern California. Very limited dates in Jan, more dates available Feb and March.
Swinging: Hobo Speys, GT40s, Heisenbergs, Thalken's Tiny Dancer Green Butt Skunk, Golden stones, Brown/Chartuse/Black Anderson Euphoria's, 
Dries: March Browns
Nymphs: Stones, Psycho Princes, Copper Johns, March Browns

FEATHER

Flows: 800 Low Flow, 1900 High Flow
Clarity: Perfect 8-10ft viz hint of green
Fishing: Good to Great
The section above hwy70 is now open

As always the Feather never disappoints. The fall season was plan stupid with the egg bite and now that the spawn is over, its time to start thinking alevin/fry hatch and fishing more traditional trout patterns. Once again the recent rains have brought in some new winter fish and they are staging in the high flow waiting for some more rain to keep moving up. Fish are definitely spread out. The fishing has been pretty consistent, quality over quantity. Both swinging and nymphing are producing fish and its only going to get better. With more rain in the forecast it will continue to bring in more fish for the remaining winter season and as always spring time on the Feather is something to look forward to. Some of the best days on the Feather, especially swinging starts around New Years and continues on through till April/May. With that being said, from Jan 1st to mid June is some of the busiest times for me so booking well in advance is highly recommended. You wont see the big steelhead like the Trinity or the American, but again their lack of size is made up with their sheer pissed off attitude. Plus the pressure on the Feather is a lot less than the Trinity and American, its also an easy day trip from the Bay Area. 
Swinging: Olive leeches/sculpins, alevins/fry patters, Brown/Chartreuse Anderson Euphoria's, Tan soft hackles, hobo speys 
Nymphs: Caddis, Prince Nymphs, Montana Nymph, San Juan Worms, Copper Johns, Mayflies, Alevins/fry patterns

YUBA

Flows: 1350 Hwy20 Bridge, 1150 Below Daguerre (perfect flows for the jet boat)
Clarity: Clear
Fishing: Good to Great
This report goes for both the Hwy 20 and below Daguerre
The Yuba has been fishing really good as of late and is always a fun river to fish and mix it up from steelhead fishing. What is super cool is we are already starting to see the infamous Skwala Stone as well as some very early brown drakes, yup March Browns. You know what that means, fish are gonna start looking up and eating dries like candy. You definitely dont want to miss out on this aweome dry fly action. When they start looking up, swinging brown soft hackles drives them nuts and even swinging olive woolly buggers get those grabs we look for. The salmon spawn is also over and fishing an alevin pattern is also a good bet. As long as the river doesnt blow out like last year, this years late winter to early spring is going to be lights out. Book now and watch these feisty rainbows fly out of the water to eat your dry or slam your swung fly like a steelhead. We can also run the lower lower section of the Yuba in my jet boat and be the only anglers on the water all day. We would be getting out of the boat and fishing, swinging, throwing drys and nymphing. Its pretty cool fishing below Daguerre Dam.
Swinging: olive streamers, Brown Anderson Euphoria's, brown/tan soft hackles, alevin/fry patterns
Dries: Skwala stones, March Browns
Nymphing: Stones, March Browns, San Juans, Caddis, Mayflies, Copper Johns

AMERICAN 

Flows: 2500cfs
Clarity: Perfect 8-10ft hint of green
Fishing: Fair-Good
The upper section is now open.
I have done a few trips on the AR over the past 2 months and each time out we had an opportunity at an adult fish or 2 and several half pounders, trips were combo trips, a bit of swinging and some nymphing. The bigger fish seemed a bit more responsive to the swung flies. From what I have heard, the opener was successful, with boats hooking decent numbers of fish, and bankies finding a fish or 2 where there was open water. There are still salmon spawning, so that means you better be fishing an egg pattern. This will continue for a few more weeks and then you will have to fish more traditional trout patterns. Personally Id wait about a week or so before heading out or hit it during the week to miss the crowds. The fishing will only get better on the AR as we get more rain and as the season moves into spring. The AR is known for its big Eel river strain steelhead, some pushing 15lbs. Your average fish is 6-8lb but 8-12lb fish are not uncommon. If you are looking to stay local and hook into some big hot steelhead, the American would be a good idea. 
Swinging: Hobo Spey, Anderson Euphoria's, GT40s, Heisenbergs, Thalkens Tiny Dancer Green Butt Skunk
Nymphing: Eggs, Princes, Trinity Johns, Hares Ear, Birds Nests, San Juan Worms, Copper Johns

Lower Sac

Flows: 5300cfs
Clearity: Steelhead Green 6-8ft
Fishing: GOOD
The Sac is still fishing well, even after the recent downpours that mother nature gave us. The Sac did muddy up for a few days and was only out of commission for a few days, but now its in good shape and it turned right back on after it cleared up. Flows have been steady at 5k since Dec 29th, and there are no scheduled releases in the near future. At 5k if you know where to wade, you can have some epic fishing, but please wade carefully. Nymphing has been the name of the game as of late, but that doesnt mean you cant see some fish sipping on BWOs late afternoon, so always have a dry fly rod ready. This time of year its not always about the big bugs, Ill always have a rubberlegs on for weight, but the smaller the flies the better, think spring creek style. The Lower Sac will only continue to fish better as the season progresses into the spring, and this is the time of year were we see some big fish on the end of the line and sometimes even into the net. If you are looking to book a trip on the Lower Sac, start booking dates now.
Swinging: Birds nests, soft hackles, small woolly buggers, alevins/fry patters
Dries: BWOs
Nymphing: Xmays, BWOs, S&Ms, Midges, Rubberlegs, Cadds, Alevin/Fry patterns

YUBA RIVER SHAD and STRIPER trips:

The 2019 shad/striper season on the Yuba was beyond epic, with most anglers landing 20-40 fish each day, with the best day on the water with 2 anglers they landed 148 shad. The boat ride alone is worth the price of admission, the fishing is just a bonus. If you want to experience some of the best shad fishing in California, join me on the Lower Yuba with my jet boat where we get out on gravel bars and swing for these "poormans tarpon." Dont know how to swing, no worries, Ill have you casting a 2 handed rod in no time, and there is no better time to learn how to cast and swing than during shad season, its a numbers game. Also, the striper fishing on the Yuba can be lights out, fishing gin clear water and watching the fish follow your fly all the way to the boat, then eating it, what more could you ask for. Whether its a shad trip, striper trip or a combo trip, I have the Lower Yuba dialed and as long as we have about 900cfs we can make it all the way up to the dam. Dates are extremely limited, booking well in advance is extremely recommend. I am typically fully booked up from May 1st to July 1st for shad, striper and spring run steelhead, SO BOOK YOUR DATES NOW. Shad season starts around May 1st to July 1st
Prime time May 15th to June 15th

My Available Dates for Feather, Yuba, Lower Sac, American

Jan 10, 25,26,27,29,30
Feb 2,6-17,19, 24-29
March 14,16,19-25, 28,29,30,31
More dates available upon request

My Trinity Lower Sac Dates

Jan 5,6,20,21,22,23,
Feb 6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13
Feb 25,26,27,28,29
March 1,2,24,25,28,29
More dates available upon request
There you have it folks, I know its been a few months since my last report, but between the extremely over booked and busy fall season, selling our old house in Antelope and purchasing a new house in Marysville in early Sept, its been a non stop busy roller coaster since Sept 1st. I just now feel like we have slowed down. But that doesnt mean the fishing has slowed down, its has only begun and will only get better as the season progresses into spring. 
Over the past few seasons, my available dates during peak season is becoming harder to reserve due to the high demand of my services. If you enjoy your time on the water with me and know when you'd like to book your trip/s, I would highly recommend booking your trip/s well in advance. At this point I would recommend at least 6 months to even a year in advance for peak seasons for steelhead, trout and shad. I want to be able to guide everyone, however, there are only so many days that I have available, and during peak season those dates become very limited. 
I am also happy to announce that I will be attending the Pleasanton Fly Fishing Expo Feb 21st, 22nd, 23rd at my own booth. My booth is located at A27 which is the first isle to the right as you come through the main entrance. Please come by and say hi, lets talk fishing, enter to win a free guided fishing trip, and book your next fly fishing adventure.
Lastly, cheers to another amazing year season in Northern California. Whether we were chasing steelhead, striper, shad, salmon, trout or anything else that swims, it was an awesome and busy year. I want to thank you all who fished with in 2019 and those who have supported me over the years. I am in disbelief that this is my 12th season guiding after starting Nor Cal Fly Guides in Febuary 2009. Im really looking forward to the start of this guiding season, and adding a few new waters to the mix for those looking for something different. I am very blessed for all the friendships in and out of the industry that have been created through the years and I wouldn't be here with out you. Here is to another great season, stay safe and see you on the water.
Solid Grabs

Leave a comment