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Saturday, July 23, 2016

North Fork Yuba River Report 7/23/2016 ~ On Fire!

The North Fork Yuba River has been fishing extremely well, so good in fact you could say it's on fire. Water temperatures in the upper watershed are running 55 to 61 degrees. Lower down near Downieville the water temps are at 59 to 66 degrees. I just completed eight trips back to back and I'm very in tune with the current conditions. Water levels have dropped a tad in the gorge sections revealing more fishable water and pockets. It's perfect right now. The river did change a little from our so called average winter, some runs are much deeper in certain areas.

It's been a complete blast on the river. If you are making a trip to the NFYR to fish make sure you bring a lighter rod like a 3wt or smaller, it will be so much more enjoyable and fun. Bust out the bamboo, or a fiberglass rod, and those vintage Hardy reels too. An angler who can read water efficiently, including drag free presentations in the micro currents, and complex varied seams will do very well. Imagine if you will getting over a hundred strikes in a half day session, and if you're quick on the set you can C&R 40 to 50 fish.

Wild rainbows have been anywhere from 3 to 10", with the occasional 12 incher thrown in. They may not be big but they are without a doubt one of the most beautiful specimens in the west. Their greatest quality is their eagerness to take artificials. It's quite the thing to see one of these smaller fish suck down a big dry, I have no idea how they can get it in their mouth.

One of the many lessons my father taught me was to never ever put rules on Mother Nature. Pictured above is a great example, a summer Skwala stonefly, only 4 months late to the party.

In the idle side waters of the North Fork Yuba River thousands of cased caddis can be found roaming around. I have yet to ID them but their cases are made entirely of organic material like pine needles, and bark. When fishing the evening, go with a single E/C Caddis #14-18 in amber, gray, or olive. Other aquatics in the mix are PED spinners, craneflies, a few golden stoneflies, yellow sallies, and right at dark the humongous dobsonflies.

As we move into the hottest time of the year, it's important to locate the cold springs that come into the river. Where springs flow directly into the river, trout will move into these areas when water temperatures increase. The springs are also a great refresher when it's really hot out by dunking one's head underneath.

I had the pleasure of guiding 7 year old Andrew on the finer points of fly fishing pocket water and plunge pools. Though he has fished before, our day on the water resulted in him catching his first wild trout all on his own! He landed several more as well. It was so awesome to see his dad light up and express his joy to his son. It's these types of experiences why I love to share and teach fly fishing, and always will.

Sunshine and water, with a splash of wild trout. If you're looking for adventure, solitude, and gorgeous surroundings, the North Fork Yuba is the place to be. I have some dates available in August, and the first half of September. Give me a call at 530.228.0487, or email me at to get on my calendar. See you on the water...

A Crimson Columbine aquilegia formosa hangs precariously on a cliff next to a cold water spring.


  1. Hello,
    Good to read your post. Its defining all about fly fishing. I just love fishing. Thank you too much. Keep posting dear........

  2. Jon,

    Thanks for all of the great pictures and posts. I spent yesterday below Sierra City and had a fine day catching 4 to 8" rainbows. My question is about a moth or maybe a hummingbird that I saw on the river. They flew (3 on one patch of flowers) and hovered like a hummingbird, was feeding on a white trumpet type flower, but had markings unlike a hummingbird. Looked like some kind of moth. Red an black markings on the wings and yellow and black stripes on the body.

    Any ideas? Thanks for the observations.

    Simo in Sacramento

    1. Simo,

      That was the White Lined Sphinx Moth, they are incredibly cool. When I lived in Graeagle they were a daily occurrence in our garden, but were most prolific just before dusk when the evening primrose would bloom next to our ponds. Great observation!

    2. Jon,

      Thanks for the info. I will Google to find out more. An amazing bug. Hummingbirds were always my favorite. Now I have a favorite bird and bug. And yes, it was evening when they were feeding.



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