It’s the calm before the storm as a series of weather systems and an atmospheric river prepare to invade northern California. We hardly noticed the shifting downward spiral of the air temperatures on the Lower Yuba River today, though the Pseudocloeons (tiny BWO’s) did not come off until an hour later than normal. It was a glorious morning with Ruby Crowned Kinglets gleaning the branches of the willows, and bufflehead ducks flying in formation, strafing the river’s surface. The number of anglers out has dropped off considerably, mainly due to the absence of the salmon now that the hype of the egg bite is nearly over. My guest and I did see a few salmon hovering near their redds as we walked the banks, so the show is not totally over. Keep in mind there are still eggs that have not hatched yet, so steer clear of any redds that are still active or unoccupied. The flows on the river have stabilized somewhat in the last week bouncing around from 1,057 to 1,045 cubes. Deer Creek is currently at 15 cfs but not for long, come Friday we’ll see the watershed dramatically spike up in flows. The current state of the rainbows behavior is a transitional phase switching from eggs back to aquatic insects. I’ve seen more risers in the past 5 days than I have for the past 2 months. Tiny BWO’s (#20) is on the menu with duns on the water from 10am to noon. A few sporadic PMD’s have been making an appearance with the occasional caddis as well. There are some very educated fish working the surface and holding in some very technical areas, like “where the spiders weave their webs” under the streamside willows. Still, it’s so fun and challenging trying to get those rainbows to eat your fly, a perfect fly first presentation with the right fly is somewhat of a requirement. (Update 12/7/) Today was insane on the flats, my guest and I had an enormous hatch that lasted nearly 4 hours with the overcast weather, and multiple targets within reach. We had pods of rising fish eating four different mayflies on the water, PMD’s, Pinkies, a dark BWO in a size 18, and a tiny BWO (pseudos) with a lime colored body. The Sparkle Dun was dominate in getting the takes. If today was my last day on earth I’d be content with the natural wonders I witnessed, it was beautiful.
Swinging flies this past week has not been as successful as the week before, but from now until the end of January an angler should carry a few sizes of salmon fry including alevin patterns. For more effective swinging rigs, check out RIO’s Versi – Tips and go with the clear 1.5 ips leader, or the green 2.5 ips. Speaking of the salmon fry I had one grab my dry fly last Saturday and it was 3 inches long already. So the river at this time is supporting eggs in the gravel, alevins, fry, and fingerlings. Bring your full quiver of imitations. Nymphing rigs will always produce on the Lower Yuba River as our quarry feeds below the surface 90% of the time. To quickly switch over to my nymph rig, I place a ready to go leader that will accept a loop to loop connection off my fly line that has an adjustable Jaydicator, non-toxic weight, swivel, and a two fly set up rolled onto an empty tippet spool. Just peel it off, attach, and you’re ready to throw down. Flies; Nymphing – Jimmy Legs, red Copper Johns, red San Juan worms, baetis patterns, and peachy king eggs. Swinging – Bunny Leeches in flesh, olive Slump Busters, BWO softies, and minnow patterns. Dries – Sparkle Duns, Hackle Stackers, Film Critics, Loop Wing parachutes, and spent flat wing spinners. #18 to 20 for the BWO’s, and #16 for the PMD’s. Keep an eye on the flows in the next week as the levels will rise and fluctuate due to the incoming storms that are starting out cold, then warmer, colder, and then warming again. Snow levels will start out low at 1,500 feet rising to above 8,000 feet, then dropping again, and by Monday rising once more. More importantly will be the clarity of the water after all this weather, hard to say yet if it will be the color of coffee, or have a nice tint to it. the Yuba River can clear quickly under the right circumstances. See you on the water, and cobbled banks of the Yuba River Gold Fields.