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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

LG&C Pontoon Workshop A Huge Success / Lower Yuba River Report 12/1/2015

Yesterday Lance Gray and myself held our second pontoon workshop on the Lower Yuba River teaching our guests on how to safely navigate and operate a pontoon boat on moving water. We met at Sycamore Ranch, set up our crafts, and shuttled them up to the Parks Bar / Highway 20 Bridge. We explained the best way to set up your boat including carrying your rod, dry bag storage, proper inflation of bladders, oar specifications, and anchor systems.

We followed that up with the basic paddling strokes, pivots, and how to move from one side of the river to the other. Most people think rowing is easy until they get in the cockpit and then realize there is more to it. That's the great thing about our pontoon workshops, you get to experience real time floating conditions while learning the river, and the famous runs.

We took to the water and began our float under an overcast sky and a chill in the air. The skill set by our students was greater than anticipated, and they quickly learned the dynamics of proper floating. There was a few tense moments where some of them panicked a bit with obstacles in their way, but I kept enforcing to keep your cool, look ahead, choose your line, and commit.

Lance and I have another pontoon workshop scheduled for March 6th 2016. Only five spots are open at this time. Click here to see some videos from yesterday's workshop. Also check out the October issue of California Fly Fisher Magazine where I wrote a very detailed article on the finer points of piloting a pontoon boat. The experience of the workshop is very informative, and most of all fun. You'll learn techniques like feathering your oars, back strokes, forward strokes, jogging, scissor pivots and one oar pivots, slowing down your speed, tackling rapids, avoiding obstacles, and setting up your boat. To get involved, please contact Lance for booking and click here; Lance Gray and Company. Specail thanks to Outcast Boats for providing our students with dry bags, the gesture was very well received by all.

Though the day's main focus was on pontoon boats we did manage a few hours of fishing resulting in a few tugs while swinging flies, and indicator fishing. We had a slight rain shower and after it stopped a sizable blue wing olive hatch commenced with a few heads poking up. Getting the dry fly eaters to eat was another story, but our students learned some very valuable skills that will aid them in the their future trips on the river.

At this time the Lower Yuba River is in transition as the resident rainbows are switching from eggs to aquatic insects. Typical conditions exist from a decent day to very slow fishing. For swinging I suggest an olive Slumpbuster or salmon fry / fingerling patterns. Nymphing; Hogan's S&M nymph, San Juan worms, and Tom's Mangy Prince. When it comes to the bwo hatch try a very small parachute with a flat wing spinner trailer in the size of #20. It's going to be a painful wait until the skwala stones pop out and hatch, and speaking for myself I get amped just thinking about it. A cold storm with heavy precipitation will be coming in this Thursday, then clearing for the weekend. Make sure to check the flows from Englebright Dam, and Deer Creek, combine the cfs flow to get an accurate measurement before you go. Best of luck and I'll see you on the water.


  1. I was a student in the Nov 30 2015 Pontoon Workshop on the Lower Yuba River. I wholeheartedly recommend the LG Pontoon Workshops to anyone, regardless of your skill or lack thereof. This Workshop is the absolute best way to learn about and to get comfortable using a pontoon on a river.

    Lance Gray organized a great Workshop with Jon providing in depth on-the-water instruction. Class size allowed Jon and Steve to spend a perfect amount of time with each student. Plus I really appreciated their soft sell approach... both were more interested in teaching us about pontooning and the river than in selling us flies or guiding... but Lance does have a great "Lower Yuba Fly Kit"

    I am in my late 60's and was not new to whitewater but I had never used a fishing pontoon on a river. I learned so much, especially about the capabilities of my pontoon, as well as the variations in river handling of different types of pontoons.

    The input I received from the other students mirrored my own thoughts: that the class gave them the ability and confidence to run almost any N Cal river-- and the smarts to recognize rapids that they should portage. Inflatable pontoons are incredibly stable and will even go through most Class II rapids sideways & backwards -- and did during the class.

    The students seemed to fall into 2 groups- those who recently purchased a pontoon and those who have had a pontoon for several years. All of the student shad one common thread-- they had not used their pontoon on a river because they were never given adequate instruction on how to use it..

    Bonus is that we all got the chance to float and understand the Lower Yuba River-- that in itself is priceless. I already have a repeat float trip planned with 2 students.

    I do not throw compliments around, but Jon Baiocchi and Lance Gray really love what they do and care about clients.... they made sure that every student in the Workshop left a lot more skilled and informed.

    Jim Paige
    Lafayette, CA

    1. Thanks for the kind words Jim, that was such an incredible day. something about floating down a's serious therapy, and so goood for the soul.


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