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Northern Sierra Foothill Report

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Jon Baiocchi Report on 9.1.2016

North Fork Yuba River

summer is coming to an end, days are noticeably shorter, mornings are colder, and the sun is arcing lower in the horizon each day. The North Fork Yuba River is still fishing well. You’ll have better success if you seek out sections that have not been fished; it’s time to hike into remote sections of the unknown. Water temperatures are stable at 57 in the morning rising to 62 degrees by the early afternoon in the upper watershed. Crowds are disappearing since the kids are back in school, but expect Labor Day weekend to be busy on all Northern Sierra waters and recreation areas. My guests and I had another fantastic week on the river, and for all of them it was their first time on the North Fork Yuba River. As always, they were blown away at the sheer beauty of the canyon, and the amusement of dry flies and eager wild trout.The pseudocloeon mayflies (tiny blue wing olives) are hatching again, and spinner falls are happening in mid-morning. A great tactic during a spinner fall is to have a big dry like a rubber leg crystal stimulator and dropping a #20 spent wing spinner 18 inches below. You want the spinner in the film or just below, no floatant is needed. There is a good number of hoppers and ants in the afternoon so be prepared with numerous terrestrial patterns. I’ve been seeing many trout in idle water (frog water) away from the main flow of the river. I suspect they are waiting for terrestrials to fall into the water for an easy meal. These fish are very spooky finning the gin clear water, stealth and accuracy will be needed.There are only about 3 weeks left in the upper watershed before water temperatures start to fall below the happy zone for the native wild trout. As autumn sets in, an angler should adjust their location further downstream towards Downieville. Into October, venturing even further down will be necessary, remember you’re chasing the optimum water temps that are between 57 and 63 degrees. Fishing during the warmest time of day will also be of importance. If you have not been to the North Fork Yuba River this season, or you want to make another trip, get the goods before it is too late.

Middle Fork Feather River

Water temperatures are coming down as well on the Middle Fork Feather River ranging from 58 to 65 degrees below the confluence of Jamison creek. Fishing pressure is extremely light, and fishing is fair. The drought has had an effect on the river for sure, I’m seeing less resident trout, and those I’m finding are in the deeper pools, and runs. The river is so different than say 20 years ago, lots of skinny unproductive water and areas that are filled in with small cobble stones. Another observation is there are very little populations of carp below the town of Clio, and it’s not just me, many anglers have spoken out loud to me about their absence. The Middle Fork Feather is in dire need of multiple flushes of high water this winter.The pseudocloeon mayflies have also started to dance above the river in mid-morning with a pretty thick spinner fall with rising fish. Overall I’m seeing fewer hatches than a decade ago. The culprit in my opinion is Didymo, also known as rock snot. This type of algae chokes out aquatic insects providing fewer habitats for them to thrive in. Didymo did not use to exist in the river until 7 golf courses in a 10 mile radius started to have an effect on the health of the river by spewing return flows laced with fertilizers. Follow the money as they say, and think not of the environment. In early August when the Didymo was at its highest it was thick in the Greaegle area all the way down to below Camp Layman, yet it was almost absent in the Portola area. Speaking of which in regards to the upper watershed, if you want in on the Middle Fork carp scene, you better get in there now as conditions will be changing with colder days and water temperatures in the weeks to come. Time will tell if the river receives the needed precipitation to enhance the health of the watershed.

Lake Davis

Air temperatures are starting to fall at Lake Davis, and the mornings are much cooler than a few weeks ago. Still, water temperatures are 68 in the morning rising to 72 degrees in the afternoon. I’ve been camping up at the lake all summer and I’m amazed that fly anglers are still fishing during these times of warm water, for many it’s not being educated on the subject of the effects of thermal pollution and the dangers of releasing fish safely. There are even anglers who know the facts of warm water and how it relates to safely releasing trout, yet still fish. Sure, you can catch rainbows when the surface temperatures are extremely warm, and release them watching them swim away, but are they surviving? Since the population of trout is extremely low in Lake Davis, my friends, guests, and I are waiting for more favorable conditions, the last thing we want to do is unnecessarily kill more trout. I’ll be scouting the lake by vision, and by sonar starting next week, and locating the best areas to fish as my trips start in the middle of the month. Currently there have been some good Callibaettis hatches, and good numbers of small midges both emerging, and on the surface. We’ll see how this fall season turns out, I’m being optimistic, and hoping we have an awesome autumn at Lake Davis.

Truckee River 

Flows are way down on the upper and mid-section of the Truckee River. Many anglers and guides do not understand where the “in town” gauging station is located on the Truckee River. For example on the USGS site listed under Pyramid and Winnemucca Lakes Basin section there is station number 10338000, near Truckee. It’s not in town, but rather upstream by the USFS Granite campground. One must factor in the outflow of Donner creek at station number 10338700 where the creek crosses Highway 89. Right now the combined flows are 37 cubes, that’s too low. This may not be significant during the fall, but in spring it can really add up to higher flows downstream of the confluence. Also during spring one must factor in Trout creek, and Martis creek for accurate flows through the Glenshire stretch. The good news is the water temperatures are dropping and are currently in the range of 58 to 64 degrees. The water temps drop faster on the Truckee River than other Northern Sierra watersheds because of colder air sinking downstream from the east slope of the high elevation mountains. Forget about fishing or guiding on the Little Truckee which is flowing at 27 cfs. Anglers and guides need to take responsibility and put the resident trout first, and their needs last. It comes down to ethics, please do the right thing.The flow below the junction of the Truckee and Little Truckee Rivers at the Boca Bridge are at 439 cubes. That’s a good flow for this time of year and fishing through the canyon has been good, but some days are off, which is typical for the river. I’ve heard they are supposed to reduce the flows down to 150 cfs through the canyon by representatives of the local Trout Unlimited chapter #103, I have no idea of the validity of such. My advice is get out there and fish with techniques and tactics that warrant the changing conditions of summer into the fall season. Presentations with streamers, and nymphing with beatis and worms will get the job done. See you on the water, and the fertile flats….

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