Sunday, January 25, 2015
I’ve been out on the Lower Yuba quite a bit in the last week; mornings have been foggy, and cool. When it does finally burn off the air temps have been incredible, almost too warm, and this past weekend was t-shirts and sweat. We need rain so bad it’s getting really scary, last I heard is dry conditions will continue through the middle of February. The river is still bouncing back and forth between 575 to 585 cubes. I like lower flows for walk and wade opportunities but this is ridiculous, drift boats are grinding, and prosperous riffles in the past are unfishable now. There is a ton of moss in the river since we've had zero flushing flows. It’s slippery, so bring your studs and your staff.
Overall fishing has been a bit slow and fish are podded up in small groups. I’m finding more skwala shucks on the banks but very few adults, nothing like last year so far. I've seen a few fish take skwalas and you can’t mistake the rise as it is very aggressive most of the time. The good news is there have been some decent BWO hatches with fish keying in on them and rising with a rhythm. I spotted a few pinkies too, but not very many numbers. There are opportunities out there to get into fish; you just have to find them first.
The indicator rig has been the most productive, fishing transition zones and drop offs is key, and the best flies under the bobber have been small ball stuff. Hogan’s S&M, and Military May in sizes 16 and 18 are doing really well. The Red Copper John has been saving the day as well, again using smaller sizes. For the few skwala eaters, the Skwala Unit has been getting some fish if you make the right presentation. When targeting the BWO hatch long leaders and a loop wing parachute in a 16 or 18 is getting some serious attention. I have not seen a fish caught by my guests with larger stones, or worms in the last week; that’s really strange.
We’re still having fun fishing on the Lower Yuba, it’s a special fishery that teaches an angler something new with every trip. That alone is worth the price of admission.
Thursday, January 22, 2015
It's rare that I can get out of the state of California these days, and with a 9 year absence fishing Montana, It was way over due. I finally got to fish the mighty Bighorn River, a legendary tail water that has 8,000 to 10,000 fish per mile, and is very rich with aquatic life. It's a major destination for anglers all over the world.
It was cold in Fort Smith to this foothill boy who has been acclimated to the 2,500 elevation of Nevada City, for locals though, it was a heat wave. I was most impressed with the bird life, flocks of Mallards by the hundreds, pheasants darting across the highway, and groups of bald eagles hanging out in the trees over looking the river. Simply incredible.
My hostess was Shelly Ehmer, a highly skilled guide who knows the Bighorn intimately, and a bad ass behind the sticks. I highly recommend Shelly if you're going up to the Bighorn, a real class act, and a super sweet girl.
Shelly is also running the Bighorn Angler fly shop this winter, A great shop with a huge selection of flies, and all the gear you need to get the job done on the Horn.
Indicator rigs with scuds, sow bugs, and small mayfly nymphs were very effective. Even more fun was the streamer fishing, though the strip was very slow due to the 41 degree water temps. Fish were podded up and I was amazed how many fish were caught in such a small section of the river.
I also got to float with another guide, Dante Bonanini, one awesome dude with the best attitude. I thought it was cool watching his girl Sara row his boat while he got to chuck some streamers. What a team.
Someday I'll get back up to the Horn, not sure when, but I will make sure to go when it's summer time. You know how I like those dry flies. So with that, Thank you Shelly, Dante, and Sara for your hospitality, it was greatly appreciated!
Wednesday, January 7, 2015
I scouted the river today and got in some serious therapy with a healthy serving of solitude. It was such a gorgeous day with plenty of sunshine and a high of 63 degrees, and t-shirts were the norm. Flows are still very low at 575 cubes, and the water is really clear. The bird life today was off the charts, my first encounter was a very large Golden eagle who passed over head so low, I could distinguish every feature on the bird. Blue herons, snowy egrets, merganser ducks, songbirds, sparrows, buffle heads, and countless others. It was amazing.
The big news of the day is the Skwala stone flies are starting to hatch, I found a couple of them today among the stream side cobbles hiding underneath. I fished with my friend Taylor Wells of Tailwalker Guide Service in the afternoon and he had two flyers land on him. It will take some time to get all the fish keyed in on them but we were surprised to see a few risers, and a few fish caught, or raised. We both have been waiting months for this to happen.
Effective methods have been indo rigs with Jimmy Legs, eggs/beads, Hogan's Military Mays and his Little Amigo, Copper Johns, and also worms. For swinging, alevins, small minnows, and BH Hare's Ear nymphs proved results today. Dry fly presentations so far have been BWO's when we have clouds, and now Skwala adults like Tom Page's signature pattern, the Skwala Unit, and Stimis.
Dry weather ahead for the next 10 days with a slight cooling trend, and a possible change in the jet stream on the 17th, bringing some much needed rain. Not looking good. At least the Skwalas have woken up and we should see some steady daily emergences in the weeks to come. Lastly, I'll be up in Montana fishing the Big Horn River from the 12th through the 17th, and will be unavailable for guide trips on the Lower Yuba River. Have fun out there....