The great atmospheric river of 2017 (so far) started its wrath on the region early Saturday morning with light rain, and intensified into the evening. By Sunday morning the precipitation was heavy, along with very windy conditions here in Nevada City. The Sierra started off with snow in the morning which then turned to rain, and snow levels increased up to 9,000 feet by the evening. During the day I checked out the river at 36k, and Deer Creek ripping at just under 8,000 cubes.
I was glued to the internet on Saturday evening checking out all the updates on social media, weather sites, and the gauges keeping track of this large event. The Carriage Inn located in Downieville was receiving encroaching flows from the Downie River and later flooded. The heavy wind and rain stopped about 10pm here in Nevada City, and creeks, rivers, and reservoirs kept rising, in fact at one point Lake Oroville had over 150,000 cfs of inflow.
I woke up early this morning around 5:30 and headed down to the Lower Yuba in the dark. I took Hammonton road on the south side and could only get as far as the washout. There was not a soul around, and only the roar of the river. It was eerie. I shot some more video there, then walked out on Parks Bar Bridge and took some more footage of the 82k flows. Lots of local areas were flooded like Hammon Grove Park, including Sycamore Ranch as well. Yesterday I tried to video Englebright dam, but they had the top gate closed, so I parked and walked down. Just past the ranger station driveway the water levels became apparent. There was no way to legally get to the observation post as everything was flooded, even the check in station was completely submerged. Rivers all over the state swelled to massive proportions like the South Fork of the Yuba River.
I -80 near Truckee and on Donner summit closed twice in the last 12 hours due to mudslides. They had a big mudslide at Pyramid Lake too. Reno also had their fair share of carnage. There is endless news stories floating out there as I write, all over the northern state. This was a pretty big event.
So let’s get to the fishing and the future. For now the river is unfishable, it may be for a month. Even longer if we get more heavy rain or another pineapple express. The river has changed dramatically, aquatic insect life will be altered, and hopefully most of the fish got into some side slack water as the river did rise on the slow side. The river started out at a big 10k before this XXL water came through, so I would like to think the fish were already on the banks playing out the waiting game. Hammonton road on the south side has been affected near the washout and Miner’s corner. Other access areas may not be usable anymore. Lots of questions with no answers until the flows come down to at least 2,000 cubes and clarity returns. When that happens I’ll be drifting the Lower Yuba River and taking notes, that’s for sure. The only game right now is Pyramid Lake, in the weeks to come the Truckee River, and maybe the Lower Sac. Like a wild trout, us fly anglers will adapt to changing conditions, and the challenge to be in the game.