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Sunday, January 6, 2013

Skwala Stoneflies Are Starting to Hatch On The Lower Yuba

Every January fly anglers look forward to one of the most anticipated aquatic insect hatches on the lower Yuba River; The Skwala Stonefly emergence. It’s a hatch where fishing the dry fly right next to the bank where the naturals crawl out from the water gets the best results. This stonefly gets active in mid-December and nymphs make their way to the quiet waters next to the cobble stone banks. When conditions are right, the nymphs crawl up the shore and under loose rocks and hatch into a fully mature winged adult whose prime purpose is to find a mate to produce offspring.

Warms days are best for a good hatch; the adults make their way to the tops of the rocks and warm up in the sun. The female will then fly over the water, some drop their sacs from the air like a clumsy B-17 bomber and others land on the water flush and float down the currents before releasing the eggs. It’s the latter that gets the attention of a hungry trout looking for a big meal in the meager cold winter months. As the weeks go by in January and into February the trout “key in” on the stoneflies, they know the insects are in the system and available for their afternoon meal.

Photo by Dan LaCount

Keys for the fly angler to be successful are for one using a good pattern. The bullet head Skwala with rubber legs gives the fly plenty of movement and just the right profile of the natural, it fools the wariest of trout most every time. Secondly these fish are spooky and selective when in the skinny water next to the bank. Their senses are on high alert for predators like the Blue Heron, and selective because of the masses of fly anglers fishing for them with artificial stonefly patterns.

One way to cut down on trout refusing your fly is to present it fly first, casting downstream and feeding out line to your intended target with a drag free drift. This way the fly comes into their view first and not the leader and fly line. Lastly look for active fish rising for the Skwala stonefly, and hone in on their exact location before making your presentation to them. Blind casting and beating the water can push the trout away from the bank and out of the feeding lanes. The lower Yuba offers the best dry fly fishing in winter for the entire state and fly anglers should concentrate their efforts here for it’s the best game in town!

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