Yuba River Fishing Report

by Jon Baiocchi

Fishing reports from fellow guides and anglers has been like a yo-yo, up and down, which describes the moods of the Lower Yuba River quite well. One guide I talked to on Saturday had two anglers in the boat and only 2 fish were hooked from the Highway 20 Bridge to Sycamore Ranch. That’s a slow day for a lot of water covered. It’s back to being sunny and warm with a chance of light showers this weekend into Monday with two weak systems flowing through. Fishing pressure has been heavy in the more popular spots, but you can always find your own piece of water if you know where to go. The flows out of Englebright dam have been steady bouncing between 1,060 and 1,080 cubes, while Deer Creek has settled down to 38 cfs. The clarity of the water is so much better now at around 3 feet with a dark green tinge to it, and improving. Water temperatures ranged from 52 to 54.2 degrees bumping up slightly from the weeks prior.

Aquatic insects have been very light with the occasional BWO mayfly, and a fluttering caddis here and there, unless we are talking about the Skwala stonefly. In the last three trips my guests and I saw many adults under the shoreline rocks in the morning (full on orgies), in the willows, and in the afternoons sunning themselves on the cobblestones preparing to either mate again, or lay some more eggs. The walk and wade angler/guide can see the skwalas much more easily than those that are just drifting. We also found fresh shucks since the 16k event so not all of them got washed down the river. With the improved clarity the rainbows can see the adults on the surface much more easily, though most of the fish have not keyed in on them. I have not seen many rising fish, only a handful, but that does not mean those rainbows aren’t looking up. All the fish raised and hooked with the skwala dry during the last week did not rise previously; all were fooled by systematic blind casting with a plan. Recent samplings still show Ryacafilia caddis, baetis nymphs, and worms being the most prolific. Unfortunately I have found many New Zealand mud snails as well, scrub your gear clean with a stiff brush, and freeze your wading gear as long as possible to ensure they are safe for another body of water that is not infested (yet). Finally, I found a Golden stone nymph, a victory of sorts since the last surge. A few tips when fishing the skwala dry; cover water quickly and make presentations to every nook and cranny including the skinny side water. You’re looking for the most eager fish. Two, keep your neck on a swivel. If you see a fish rise and it’s within reach, go right at ‘em as quickly as possible with a proper drift, that’s the sign of an active feeder worth pursuing.

Bigger fish have all been caught while nymphing according to my sources until today. My guest missed a very large rainbow that showed itself with a slow half out of the water arcing take in the 22-23 inch range, which damn near gave me a heart attack! He did manage to stick a 19 inch bow that spooled him quite well, and had his reel sounding like a chainsaw wide open. For your nymph rigs, a Jimmy Legs or a worm on top, with a dark baetis or free living caddis for a trailer will work well. Again, cover water, make the proper adjustments with the amount of weight and indicator distance for the depth of water fished, then pray to the fish gods for a take. I’m curious how this week will pan out with the improved clarity and warmer weather. With all the food flushed downstream, you would think those rainbows would be hungry for an easy meal. See you out there…

Jon Baiocchi has been fly fishing and tying flies since 1972 and has been a California licensed fly fishing guide for 22 years, is a published author, educator, innovative tier, and public speaker giving fly fishing presentations to clubs and expos around the state. Jon operates Baiocchi's Troutfitters guide service in the northern Sierra during the warmer months, and on the Lower Yuba River during the winter. He has a reputation as a hard working guide who has been trained by some of fly fishing's best known master anglers, and is passionate about teaching all things fly fishing.