Sunday, March 18, 2018
The lower Yuba River was fishing really well with the continued success that I have been getting my guests into for the last few months, then heavy rain slammed the northern California region and the river blew out big time. On the 14th the Yuba got up to 7,627 cubes, while Deer creek reached 2,859 cfs adding a whole bunch of muddy water. Typical with this type of storm, Englebright spilled over and the river has been running high ever since and currently flowing at 4,737 cubes. Just like last year I’m rescheduling a bunch of trips, I just want to thank my guests for understanding that Mother Nature has full control of the situation.
So let’s recap the conditions on the Lower Yuba River just before the blow out. Skwala stone flies were in the phase of waning, there were still adults in the drift during the late afternoon, and of course the fish were still aware of them. Strong hatches of PMD’s and the trout were on them. A few March Browns, seemed like there was more the first week of March, but you know how every day is different. Little green stones were out, a really cool and relatively unknown stoner. A little bigger than a yellow sally, with a medium green color in a size #12. The neatest aspect of this stone fly is that it mostly emerges mid-stream, and not on the rocks. I learned all about this bug years ago on the Middle Fork Feather River where it typically hatches in May into June. Yep, conditions were awesome, and my clients still were not using nymph rigs; Confidence and dry flies, with the total visual experience.
We are going to get slammed again this coming week starting on Tuesday with heavy precipitation. You can see in the flow predictions for the Yuba River (above) that it will be running even higher. Records are going to be broke after this next storm, and March of 2018 will be the snowiest one on record, and beating overall monthly snowfall of January 2017. 6 to 8 feet of snow fell from the last storm in the upper elevations, we got lucky this year.
Speaking of high water, in the April issue of California Fly Fisher I wrote an extremely informative article on “Tactics for High Water” It’s a recap of last winter and how we relearned to fish gigantic flows with Short Line Nymphing, and Streamers. You’ll learn about leader formulas, equipment, water to target, techniques, and flies. The article is definitely a keeper that you will be referring to over and over. Check it out. Looking forward to getting back on some moving water and good hatches, seems like it will be later than sooner…
Tuesday, March 6, 2018
In the last week the flows came up dramatically on the Lower Yuba River during and after our biggest storm of the winter season. The river topped out at 3,188 cubes which is a perfect flushing flow with no harm done. Deer creek ran as high as 1,870 cfs and as always pumped in a lot of dirty water. Currently the Yuba River is at 980 cubes and there is just a tinge of color, ideal conditions for sure.
Much warmer weather today, with highs near 70 degrees and a slight breeze. It’s definitely spring time in the central valley and foothills. Trees are leafing out, different varieties of wildflowers are beginning to bloom, and there were new songbirds and wrens patrolling the banks for food.
Also lots of western fence lizards buzzing around too, and the tell all of spring – Pipevine swallowtails. Fishing pressure is moderate at the more popular locations, but if you’re willing to cover some ground, you can get away. Even though I have a slight case of the flu, I had to get out of the house, and it did so much good for the soul. Glad I did because the fishing was so good.
The Skwalas were out in force today, and they love this current warm weather. They move around much quicker too. I found one good size orgy under rocks with about 9 players. The stoneflies were in the drift too. I have not noticed any sign that the hatch is waning, in fact I found fresh shucks today during my observations.
From 1 pm to 3pm there were so many different bugs out. March Browns, PMD’s, Pinkies, BWO’s, 3 different kinds of caddis, and midges. My guests and I have still yet to use a nymph rig in the last 47 days. Keep in mind we are starting to fish at 11 am, but if an angler were to show up earlier, an indo rig would be a wise choice. More and bigger fish are being caught, which is great to see. I found my first steelhead redd in a side channel today, it was fresh, but nobody was on it.
Prime surface feeding habitat for trout, back eddies and foam lines.
Fly selection – Nymphing; Squirmy worms in flesh and red, Jimmy Leg stones (black, brown, and mottled yellow and coffee) #8-10, Pheasant Tail Flashbacks #14-18, Copper Johns (copper, red, olive) #16-18, Hogan’s S&M nymph (olive, brown, tan) #14-18, and Hogan's Red Headed Stepchild #16-18. Dries; Unit Skwala #10, Morgan’s Double Dutch Bug #10, March Brown Sparkle Duns #14, PMD parachute #16, Pinkie Loop Wing #16-18, and BWO Hackle Stackers #16-18. Steamers; Alevins #12, Black Bunny Leeches #8-10, Olive Slumpbuster #6-10.
There is more weather showing up in a few days with a weak system, then into next week a stronger system moves in. We are supposed to receive up to 4 feet of snow in the higher elevations over the course of the next three weeks. We’ll take it. There should be periods of fishable conditions in between storms, so make sure to get out there. See you on the water…
Lupinus albifrons, Silver Lupine
Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Winter has returned, and with it colder temperatures and weak cold fronts. Some bigger storms may be upon the region in the next few weeks, and a there is still hope for a March miracle. The Lower Yuba River is still fishing well. Dry flies and fishing during the warmest time of day is your best bet. Flows continue at an average of 950 cubes at the Parks Bar gauging station, and the Yuba County Water Agency currently has no plans to increase the flows.
The colder air temps and cloudy conditions are not the best for the Skwala stonefly, their activity has slowed down but they are still there, hiding under the cobblestones waiting for our friend the sun to come out. There has been a bit of resurgence with BWOs, PMDs, and a few more March browns in the mix. Bigger fish have been caught in the last week including a Feather River steelhead that ate a Skwala dry.
Covering water is the key to success, and don’t be afraid to blind cast. Though, one should always keep their head on a swivel, and looking for any rise forms. I’m booked up until the middle March. No better time to make a plan and stalk the banks with me. 530.228.0487, or email me at email@example.com
Check out my YouTube channel HERE I've added two tying tutorials, the March Brown Sparkle Dun, and the Unit Skwala. I'll be adding more as time allows. See you out there...
Check out my YouTube channel HERE I've added two tying tutorials, the March Brown Sparkle Dun, and the Unit Skwala. I'll be adding more as time allows. See you out there...
California's state flower Eschscholzia Californica
Monday, February 19, 2018
This coming Friday through Sunday (23rd to the 25th), The biggest fly fishing show on the west coast will be held at the Alameda County Fairgrounds, 4501 Pleasanton Avenue, Pleasanton, Ca. Show Hours are Friday: 10am – 6pm, Saturday: 9am – 5:30pm, and Sunday: 9am – 4:30pm. This three-day show features fly fishing authors, celebrities, fly-tiers, exhibitors, and a learning center. The International Fly Fishing Film Festival is back for one night only on Friday, February 23.
I will be working the Truckee Guide Network booth (space E-11), and Lance Gray and Company's booth (space G-29), so come by and let's talk about our upcoming trips, clinics, tours, and workshops for 2018.
I will also be presenting my brand new program "High Water Tactics" which was developed after last winter's deluge. It is a technical program that offers solutions during flooding conditions.“High Water Tactics” covers different types of high water situations, safety, trout and turbid conditions, water structure to target, streamer and nymphing presentations, leader formulas, tactics, and fly selection. Beautiful images and new highly detailed animated slides and diagrams provide the audience with clear and concise information for future endeavors on the water while fly fishing in adverse conditions. Though our winter this year is not like last year, there is still some great information any angler can use. This is a program you do not want to miss!
My speaking times are Friday 12pm, Saturday 10am, and Sunday 10am - Building "P". For the complete speakers schedule click HERE, then scroll down to the "Theaters" tab.
For tickets and directions, click HERE
I look forward to seeing you all at the show, and sharing my knowledge and passion for fly fishing and conservation.
Tuesday, February 13, 2018
|Photo courtesy of Tony Bellaver, Alpenglow Bamboo Fly Rods|
You’ll have better success fishing water that is a little rougher as it masks your profile and mistakes, smooth flat water gives the fish all day to look at the intricate details of your fly and your presentation. Going on week 3 of not putting a bobber rig on for my guests, and there is no need to. One single dry fly or a dry/dropper rig is all you need. Those trout are looking up and placing themselves in major foam lines in the afternoon. Overall fishing has been good, but an angler needs to put in some observations, and work, to get results.
Skwalas are still active and the fish are keyed in on them. There are more PMDs in the mix and some fish actually prefer them over the big bug. A few Gray Drakes are out, and it seems the BWO hatches have been on the light side. The warm sunny weather of late has a more than a few caddis fluttering about, fruit trees are in blossom mode, and the honey bees have been busy. Whatever the land of extremes throws at us, I sure love my native Northern California.
I’d like to share a few tips that will help you out on the water with your dry fly game. First is line management, especially dealing with slack. During your drift, an angler must be aware of their line. You want the straightest line possible to your fly, often, just mending the first 10 feet of you fly line from your rod tip makes a big difference. Remember when it comes to setting the hook, you want to do so with the path of the shortest distance, which may entail setting to the left even though your fly is downstream of you on your right. Second, if your casting to an active rising fish and not getting any love, stop casting and rest them. Let the fish eat a few naturals and try again. If you have no results, go find another fish. You don’t want to spend all day on one picky fish, find the aggressive eater, and moving around and fishing many different water types will help with that.
Give me a ring at 530.228.0487 and let’s prowl the banks. Conditions are at their best right now, don’t delay, and get out there. See you among the cobblestones…
Tuesday, February 6, 2018
Winter is the new summer lately. Hard to believe it’s the first week of February, above normal temperatures with bright sunny skies. I really like it, but fear the next to nothing snowpack in the Sierra. We need more snow, with high water content, or things will be bleak this coming summer and fall. Pray for a March miracle. The Lower Yuba River still amazes me with how quickly it has come back. Lance Gray and I had another Yuba Tour today, and the entomology sampling was as good as the last one with a few exceptions. There were tons of baetis nymphs, and quite a few March Brown nymphs in the mix. So good to see.
Current conditions has the flows right around 910 cfs, though today there was a short spike in the flows from releases from Scotts Flat reservoir into Deer creek that bumped it up to 1,101 cubes. Short lived and back down. My guests and I have still yet to use a nymph rig, it’s been all about waiting for the Skwala stones to get active during noon to 4pm and making dry fly presentations. Every day has been different, and sometimes you see many adults scurrying around on the rocks, and floating down the foam lines, while other days not so many. Regardless, most of the fish are keyed in on them.
Mayflies have been sparse but still present. BWOs, and PMDs mostly. You’ll find more mayfly eaters in the calmer flats. We should see these conditions to last for quite some time, and you can expect the Skwalas to be present clear into the middle of March. Decent numbers of smaller feisty rainbows with the occasional legit fish are being fooled with Skwala patterns that are the right size, with that unique Yuba River color. I’ve got a few open dates heading into March. Shorten your learning curve, gain knowledge, and advance your skill set for future endeavors. 530.228.0487
Don't forget, Lance Gray of Lance Gray and Company and myself will be offering another Yuba Tour on March 1st. Access areas, rigging, entomology, flies, handouts, mapping, and a stream side lunch included. Price: $145. Contact Lance at firstname.lastname@example.org to book your spot. See you on the water...
Saturday, February 3, 2018
February is a very busy month for me, 9 presentations, guide trips, and a whole lot of travel. Sharing my knowledge comes first, it's the legacy my father left me and I wouldn't think twice about it. Check out my speaking schedule below and make sure to click on the orange highlighted links for more info.
Kern River Fly Fishers ~ On the 7th I will in Bakersfield speaking at the KRFF general meeting presenting my technical dry fly program "Mastering the Dry Fly". This is an in depth look at observing and head hunting trout who feed on the surface. Doors open at 7pm, and the meeting is free to the public. For more information click HERE.
Santa Lucia Fly Fishers ~ The next night on the 8th, I travel to San Luis Obispo with another showing of my dry fly program. I'm looking forward to speaking with the SLFF club since I have never done so before. Doors open at 6:30pm at Margie's Diner, and the meeting is free to the public. For more info click HERE.
Grizzly Peak Fly Fishers ~ Round 3 of my mini presentation tour finds me in Kensington speaking in front of the GPFF club on the 14th. Here's a chance to check out my "Mastering the Dry Fly" program if you have not seen it yet. Doors open at 6:30pm, and the meeting is free to the public. For more info click HERE.
Peninsula Fly Fishers ~ Another night, another town, this time in Redwood City at the PFF general meeting on the 15th. One more viewing of my technical dry fly presentation that has been receiving rave reviews from every club - They love it! Doors open at 7:30pm. For more info on the meeting that is free to the public click HERE.
Pleasanton Fly Fishing Show ~ The best fly fishing show on the west coast returns to Pleasanton, Ca on February 23, 24, and 25. I will be speaking all three days with a brand new program entitled "High Water Tactics" that covers everything to be successful when huge flows are encountered. Vivid images, animated slides, and diagrams gives the audience clear and concise details and facts. I will also be working the Truckee Guide Network booth, and Lance Gray and Company's booth. For more info on the show click HERE.
I hope to see you at one of the following venues mentioned above. Though this month is crazy busy with shows, guide trips, and Skwala stoneflies, I always have time to share my passion and knowledge of fly fishing with all of you. See you on the road...
Tuesday, January 30, 2018
The last few days have been pretty darn good for my guests on the Lower Yuba River. So good that we have not even put on a nymph or a streamer. It's been all dry flies. Due to a low snow pack, and lack of precipitation, the Yuba County Water Agency has dropped the flows again with a target flow of 900 cubes coming out of Englebright dam. Deer Creek is currently flowing at 106 cfs and dropping a little bit by the hour. Fishing pressure has been moderate, and if you don't like crowds, hike away from the masses.
Skwala stones are out in good numbers. The weather forecast will favor more adults to be active during this warm sunny weather. The trout are really keyed in on them in the late afternoons and will migrate into side water while looking up.
Lots of mating already going on, with females ovipositing their black egg clusters as they ride the bubble lines of foam downstream. Size matters, and many commercial patterns are way too big. You can see pictured above just how much bigger the female is.
The biggest surprise so far this year has been the amount of Skwala shucks near and downstream of major riffles. After the deluge of high water during the winter of 2017, I thought for sure we would see much lower populations. The bugs have proved me wrong.
When it comes to the mayflies, the weather can, and will greatly affect the hatch. Yesterday we had clouds, and the hatch was good. Today was bright and sunny, and the hatch was very sparse. I usually rig my guests up with a bwo, pinky, or pmd patterns to 5x to start out with, but if the hatch is not coming on strong, I will switch them over to 4x and the Skwala stone, and stick with that rig until the day is done.
Still lots of Gray Drakes out, but many go unmolested as they drift downstream, I'll see trout eat a few, but with how many of them are out, I'm a bit surprised.
The Gray Drake is from the swimmer family of mayflies. They will very rarely hatch midstream like a March Brown, or a bwo. They crawl out onto a rock and hatch just like a stone fly, leaving a shuck as evidence. Notice their big paddle tails that propel them around quite efficiently.
We've hooked into some bigger fish lately running 15 to 16", but they have not ended up in the net. Their girth is big compared to the smaller specimens, and during the fight they go ape shit putting on aerial displays and tail walking across the water. The bigger fish are smarter too, always looking to wrap you up in underwater structure.
My approach to fishing the Yuba this time of year is much different than other guides and anglers. I look at is as observing and hunting, while covering water, fan casting near to far, and choosing many different water structures to make presentations in. My guests today are avid duck hunters, and they thoroughly enjoyed my way of fishing the Yuba River. Brian, pictured above, with one of the bigger fish on that left his heart pounding for quite some time afterwards. So awesome to see!
Recent rains have greened up the surrounding land, it is truly beautiful right now on the river. Sunny weather lies ahead for quite some time, which equals perfect Skwala conditions. See you on the water...
Thursday, January 25, 2018
The Lower Yuba River is fishing well for hose that seek the dry fly game, unreal conditions with an abundance of bugs depending on the day – And that’s just it, every day is different. Currently the flows are dropping. The Yuba peaked at 1,597 cubes early this morning and Deer creek maxed out at 554 cfs. Water clarity will be dirty for a few days. Before this last storm blew through, the water was slightly stained with about 3 feet of visibility.
The hatches have been great on most days with many different players involved. BWOs, PMDs, Gray Drakes, a few Skwalas, and I found a March Brown adult last Monday. The trout are totally keyed in on the Blue Wings in a size 18. Sparkle Duns and Puyon’s Loop Wing parachutes have been the most effective patterns. A good rule to follow is to expect mayfly hatches on cloudy drizzly days, and when the sun is out with warmer weather, the Skwala is more active – They love that. The dry fly fishing has been so good that my guests and I have not even fished a nymph rig, or made swinging presentations.
Last Monday, Lance Gray and I held our first Yuba Tour for 2018. During the entomology class we were quite surprised at the abundance of the sampling. It was the best sampling in the last 3 years. Baetis, PMDs, March Browns, Epeorus, Skwala, Golden, and Stub Wing stones, and a freshwater shrimp. Amazing.
As soon as the river comes back into shape it will be game on again. There are some bigger fish in the system as a guest of ours hooked into an 18 incher during the Tour. The rainbow ate a BWO parachute. By the way, Lance and I have opened a new date for a Yuba Tour, It will be March 1st. Contact Lance if you want in. Can’t wait to get back on the water and hunt some heads. See you out there…