Sunday, April 27, 2014
Lower Yuba River - Winter 2014 -The Season of the Dry Fly
Just thinking back and taking it all in, my memories of fly fishing through the years, and this past winter. The crazy stuff. Where conditions are so prime, yet your quarry is an elite professional athlete, navigating this big tail water fishery, where it calls home. The Yuba creed is another wild angry trout that tests skills from success, to utter shame. I sit here at 6,200 feet above the Truckee area thinking back on the most awesome dry fly fishing I've had in over a decade. 2014 and the low water on the Lower Yuba River favored the bugs, and the persistent trout stalker patrolling the banks. It was sick. From my crew, to my friends, to my fellow GCFF club members, and by other fans who heavily emailed me, called, and texted the most amazing results that were day makers. These are folks that fish all the time, have extensive knowledge, and a highly set skill rate. That’s what it takes on the Lower Yuba. That’s the allure that keeps hardy veterans, and aspiring walk and wade adventurers coming back and experiencing that golden moment of “the take”. But don’t forget those unexplainable lucky days where you can do no wrong. It so weird isn't it? Why does it happen? I don’t get it. Never will.
Patrol the bank, that’s what you do. When you put in multiple days on any water you become in tune with your favorite section. That’s your area. You know it well. You’re the ruler. You know exactly where they like to lay, and what time they come into the skinny bank water to feed on those twitchy legged, Skwala stoneflies. By opening your senses to the rhythms of the land and water around you, more questions are answered, and your knowledge increases. Processing information and applying it to your next challenge, only to get your ass handed to you once again. Most anglers just give up, others like me just stop and observe. Another question answered.
There were days when I went solo, and after hiking across the cobbles and gravel bars I was rewarded with nobody around me. A solitude day on the Yuba is one to appreciate. The weather this past so called “winter” was unbelievable, above average temps, and little precipitation. I would get out onto the river, or on a good hike, and just say out loud “Really?”, “Is this really happening?” “Come on, make it rain dude!” We did get some pretty good onslaughts of weather in the foothills which translates to the Yuba being blown. We had at least a half dozen days where it was perfect mayfly weather with low sticky clouds, a light drizzle, and warm air. I saw the biggest BWO hatch ever; it was so profuse and thick! I was wading mid river up to my thighs, looking upriver and watching dun after dun float by or emerge in the hundreds, which translates to thousands as the clock ticked by. When I see events like this I’m distracted from fishing, it’s tough to concentrate. Why the hell do I like bugs so much? Fascination leads to a better presentation.
Every trip out there, something new with technique was learned, or modified, on those long technical dry fly presentations of precision. With big water comes complex shifting seams, every drift is different, and always changing in accordance with the fluctuating flows. It’s got to be drag free. That’s the goal most of the time anyways. When it all goes right and you make connection, the button is engaged on the missile launcher, and out comes a 18” Yuba rainbow model at pace! They’re so pissed. Better check your knots again.
Man, I really miss it, but it’s time to move up to the high country as the Northern Sierra awakens and warms up. Despite low water conditions that lay ahead of us for summer, I have a feeling this one is going to be a special one, with some great times on the water. I can’t explain it, you know, you've been there. It’s just a feeling, a hunch if you will. Bring on the heat.