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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Lower Yuba River Fishing Report - 2/25

We are at the peak of the Skwala stonefly hatch on the Lower Yuba and fishing has been outstanding! Current conditions favor the walk and wade fly angler as the river has been dropped to 525 CFS, very low, yet still so much good holding water next the bank in certain sections of the river. The low flows also make it much easier to cross the river safely and access areas that are hard to get to with higher flows. For those new to the river behind the oars of a drift boat, expect to grind the bottom of your boat through the shallow riffles and gravel bars. Water clarity has vastly improved from the river being blown out from the last series of storms. There is still a tinge of color in the water and this helps mask mistakes in both presentations and stalking fish. Other hatches include very sparse baetis and PMD mayflies. Studying the rise forms can give you a clue on just what the trout are taking. Explosive and aggressive rises usually indicate a Skwala was sucked down, while softer dimple rises and slurps are often mayflies.

The Skwala stoneflies have been very active in the afternoon with big numbers. Keep in mind that some areas of the river have higher populations than others. This hatch can vary differently from day to day. It’s best to observe and scan the foam lines for active Skwalas in the drift before casting. The currents of the river have a way of pushing the bugs into select bank water; the rainbows know where these areas are and will adjust their location to intercept their food supply. With the lower water an angler can wade out into the river and cast back towards the bank, a very effective way to present your dry fly as its right in the zone of the naturals.  Look for overhanging brush and drift your fly below the branches, the trout love the security of these secluded quarters. Back eddies, and slower water with some depth to it should also be fished as well. Make your first presentations count in a new area fished.

Not all fish will be rising for the Skwalas, but if you do see a rise, take a mental note of its location and position yourself as quickly as possible, and target the area. Covering water when no fish are rising can produce results; you’d be surprised how many fish will come take your fly where you thought there was nobody home. The more water you can cover, the better results you will have. The rainbows are in great shape right now ranging in size from 14 to 20 inches, and are hot! When hooked, these fish peel line off the reel so quickly and really get your adrenaline going!

Effective Skwala dries have been the Skwala Unit and dark Stimulators sizes 8-10. The Skwala hatch will be waning in the weeks to come, but the fish will remember them for quite some time as they are a high protein source. The next series of storms will affect the river in both clarity and water levels, but we'll just have to wait and see after these systems roll through to get a clearer picture of the conditions. This is my favorite time of year on the lower Yuba, the days are getting longer, and the warm afternoons are perfect for experiencing some fabulous dry fly action!

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