For the past month I've been taking my guests to the North Yuba as the river conditions on the Middle Fork Feather are too warm and low. Great fishing conditions on the NFY came early this year with the lack of a normal snow pack and an early warm spring. All systems are "go" now and the river is in it's classic summer mode with productive fishing in the morning to late afternoon, then again for the evening rise. With a low runoff year aquatic insects are more prevalent as the river is not scoured by heavy high spring flows. Caddis flies are the most abundant food source here and an angler's fly box should have plenty of pupa, emerger, and adult patterns in a variety of sizes and colors to match the hatch. Water temps are running 62-68 in the lower river and 57-65 in the upper reaches. As more summer heat comes on it is important to focus where natural springs and feeder creeks enter the river as trout will be stacked below these cold sources of water.
The lower river below the town of Downieville offers more water, bigger fish, and more brown trout. Water temps warm more quickly here and an angler that gets here early will do better before the bite shuts down in the early afternoon. Yesterday I explored some remote reaches below Good Years Bar, areas that require some extreme descents and grueling outs up steep terrain. The trout are favoring highly oxygenated pocket water and shady runs that offer a good flow mixed in with micro currents and seams.
Being able to read water correctly with an understanding on why trout favor these areas during different times of the day is an important part of fly fishing. This is one of the first things I teach my students. My father taught me the importance of trout habitat when I first started out, back then in the 70's reading water and presentation was way more important than fly selection. To this day I still believe these are still the most important tools we carry with us. The above photo shows a deeper slot up against a submerged log which provided me the opportunity of catching two small brown trout. Browns really love wood for some reason and why log jams and other "woody" stream side habitat should be carefully dissected and fished.
During yesterday's venture "where the wild things are" I noticed several fresh Golden Stone shucks on the rocks, with a little probing around the polished granite boulders nearby I found this adult specimen in the shade adapting to its new world out of the water. I started out with a #10 yellow Stimulator with a KGB Caddis Emerger dropper in a size 16. After catching a dozen fish with only three on the dropper I removed the bottom fly and just fished the dry. Those trout really wanted the big bug!
Besides the yellow Stimulator, other effective dry flies included the Royal Wulff in a size #14 and Jonny B's Simple Sandwich Hopper #10.
There is plenty of summer left to explore and soak in the coolness of the North Fork Yuba river. The canyon's natural beauty and remote wildness sells itself, if you can appreciate these simple things in life you'll be quite content here.
Escape, explore, and lose yourself.