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Thursday, December 28, 2017

Shwood "Monroe" Eyewear Review

Thanks to my partnership with Shwood Eyewear I've added an addition to my quiver of on the water personal tools; Optics. The Monroe frame features a larger viewing area with a slight wrap making it perfect for fly fishing. I chose the strong Acetate frame, and the copper lens with a rose flash anti-reflective layer for greater performance under bright conditions. The lenses are crafted from CR39 resin, boasting the highest clarity on the market. All lenses offer %100 UVA/UVB protection. Polarized models include an optical grade 5-layer anti-reflective coating. Shwood glasses are made in America at their headquarters in Portland, Oregon, not China like many of the big "on the water" sunglasses manufacturers. Superior quality with an attention to every detail would best define the Shwood Eyewear line. There are so many options to choose, from frames to lenses, you make the choice that suits your needs when exploring the great outdoors.

Features include; 

  • Italian cellulose acetate
  • Genuine burl wood inlays
  • 5 barrel German hinges
  • Premium CR39 lens
  • 100% UVA/UVB protection
  • Bombproof custom aluminium travel case
  • Microfiber cleaning cloth
  • 1 year warranty
I'm really happy with the performance of Shwood Eyewear, they have defiantly improved my game when sight fishing, and observing the subtle details like identifying small mayflies on the drift. Check out the Shwoodshop website for yourself and obtain one of the finest American optics available to the public. You won't be disappointed. https://shwoodshop.com/

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Lower Yuba River Fly Fishing Update ~ 12/20/2017

A little cooler temperatures after a quick moving cold front push through last night, Nevada City received about a half inch of precipitation. Sunny skies again today and extremely pleasant weather. The Lower Yuba River is flowing at 1,050 cubes and the clarity remains clear. With the lower flows a walk and wade angler can now cross easily in many sections of the river, but be careful where you step and avoid walking through salmon redds. Fishing pressure has increased especially above the bridge, I counted 7 vehicles there today and that’s quite a few for a Wednesday. Fishing conditions remain the same and I would rate it as good. 

There are some bigger fish being reported from reliable sources. A 22 inch rainbow was caught at the Yuba Drifter’s private water, Yuba guide Jordan Romney hooked into an 18 incher, and today I C&R a 17” rainbow. What a fish! It’s been a while since I’ve hooked into a larger Yuba River rainbow, and I had my hands full while fighting it in fast water near some treacherous snag piles. The take was a thing of beauty. I was making upstream presentations using a BWO sparkle dun in a riffle when a large back appeared with a slow arcing motion, I set the hook late and it was game on. It’s great to see some larger fish in the mix.

Nymphing in the morning is getting it done using Jimmy Leg stones, eggs, red squirmies, and X Mays and S&M’s in olive size 18. Hatches of BWO’s, Pseudos, Pinkies, and a few PMD’s start around noon time and go until about 3 pm. Some days the hatch is stronger than others, but it has been consistent. Above the bridge I have seen a few Brown Dun mayflies (Ameletus) flying overhead and they are huge. I’ve yet to see any on the water though. A good tip when targeting rising fish in rhythm, is to make a few presentations and if they are not willing to play the game, rest them and try a different pattern. Another key to success is to set the hook a little later, I’ve seen many of my guests in the last few weeks get a grab, only to pull the fly out of the fish’s mouth too early. 

Swinging Alevins, minnows, and soft hackles are getting some decent results as well. It’s been fun on the Lower Yuba River, and the dry fly action during the past month is a great reminder why I moved down to Nevada City in the first place – Winter fly fishing for trout at its finest. Give me a call and let’s set up a trip, I can shorten the learning curve with a regular guide trip, or a custom tour complete with handouts. 

530.228.0487 ~ Baiocchistroutfitters.com

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all. See you out there…

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Baiocchi's Troutfitters ~ 2017 Year In Review

2017 started out with a bang. Record precipitation and atmospheric rivers reeked havoc onto Northern California's watersheds. Rivers were blown out for months, and for many fly fishing guides like myself, we were out of work with nowhere to share our passion. Rivers, streams, and creeks were changed and received more than a good flushing. I made the most of it though by touring the state and providing fly clubs and expos with speaking presentations, and also writing articles for fly fishing publications.

By April is was apparent after a few trips to the Truckee River that is was possible to have good fishing even though the water levels were high and the clarity like mud. I reached out and taught my guests about the details of high water tactics, and it paid off. The spring of 2017 taught most anglers that the impossible was really possible.

We learned that big water was ruled by big fish which makes sense since they have the muscle power to overcome and adapt to the conditions. We also learned that even when the water is dirty a trout will rely on their sense of smell, and their lateral line which feeds their inner ear located in the brain for variables in vibrations. Worms, stone flies, eggs, and streamers were all effective. Not all rivers fared as well as the Truckee. The Lower Yuba River was a wasteland of rubble and would take months before any sign of aquatic life could be detected. 

Later in spring after the spawn was done at the fertile still waters of the Northern Sierra I began my yearly routine and investigating where the fish were located at for future trips. Lake Davis and Frenchman Lake were full to the brim and their spillways overflowed for months. Frenchman went from 27% of capacity to 103%. It was awesome to see.

The populations of trout were at an all time low at Lake Davis, and I moved all my booked stillwater trips to Frenchman Lake, and we hammered them. My guests and I had some pretty silly days with the indo rig. I learned that Frenchman's is dominated by chironomids, and the great fishing we experienced during the month of June was legendary.

Even heading into July the water levels on the North Fork Yuba were still high. This watershed was also changed by the floods during the past winter, and there were less fish in the system in a smaller size class. The NFYR is a fascinating river with a boundless amount of beauty. I really love this river.

I always enjoy guiding and teaching the youth of today on the NFYR, it's downsized and offers the potential for all of my students to hook into wild trout using dry flies. Even better it is situated in a rugged canyon that requires navigating around rough terrain. It's a workout, and one of the finest gyms ever provided by Mother Nature.

All the hatches came off late this year due to the high water events and substantial snow pack of 2017. On the Little Truckee River the Green Drakes and the PMD's were still hatching into the first few weeks of August. A rare occurrence for sure, but a delight to those that favor the dry fly game.

Hatches weren't the only thing that was affected by the high water of 2017. Guide trips by the dozens had to be rescheduled including the Tahoe Truckee Fly Fisher's Cliff Frazier Memorial, a trout camp for kids on the private water of the San Francisco Fly Caster's facility. This is one of my favorite events all year and it's so rewarding to share my passion and knowledge of fly fishing to aspiring students.

The second season moved in quickly as it always does and ends even quicker. Blazing fall colors, lower water temperatures, and changing trout metabolisms resulting in an all out eating spree. Fall ball is simply the best.

One of the most rewarding trips occurred this fall when a complete rookie hooked and landed a slab of a rainbow on the Little Truckee River after only fishing for fifteen minutes. That fish will be the most expensive experience for my guest due to him now having the addiction of fly fishing. Enjoy the ride my friend.

Back to Frenchman Lake with cooler water temperatures, and the trout going on the fall bite did not disappoint. Stripping flies was way more effective than staring at the bobber, which is a good thing. The tug is the drug, and sight fishing to skinny water rainbows with Callibaetis dry flies and nymphs is absolutely the most awesome game in town.

Frenchman Lake is stocked with the angry trout, the Eagle Lake strain rainbow that fights incredibly hard. I'm looking forward to 2018 and fishing this spectacular lake.

Back home and away from my summer camp in the Sierra. It's nice to be back working my local fishery of the Lower Yuba River. If you've been following my reports lately, than you know the river is slowly coming back from the torrential flows of this past winter. It's been fun to say the least.

2017 was a tough year for many, we fought the wars and wagered on. We learned, we laughed, and endured the hardships while at the same time appreciated what nature provided for us. I'm looking forward to 2018, my 21st year guiding and sharing my passion to all. I hope I get to spend some time with you on the water and create some memories that you'll remember forever. At this time I'd like to thank everybody for making another year of mine successful. The list is long but you know who you are, from my clients, to my sponsors - Thank you for all the support, it means so much to me. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! - Jon Baiocchi

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Lower Yuba River Fly Fishing Report - 12/12/2018

The weather has been unbelievable in the last few weeks, hard to believe it's December. Today was 72 degrees down in the gold fields with not a soul to be seen. Flows have been stable at around 1,300 cubes and it looks like this flow will continue for quite some time with no major storms on the horizon. Water clarity is very clear right now, it would be nice to get a little bit of color back into it. Fishing has been good, and it’s been a lot of fun playing the dry fly game in the early afternoons. I’ve been scouting and walking long distances when I’m not guiding and checking out different sections of the river. New riffles, slots, flats, back eddies, and side channels have been explored. Some areas have improved, while other favorite spots of the past are now gone. 

The above photo of the Lower Yuba River was taken in April of 2015 in a section that is far below Sycamore Ranch. You'll notice after the dog leg right, the river makes a drawn out left hand sweeper into a series of rock formations. Notice how many willows are also present.

Two years and one month later in the same section, the river has completely changed course moving farther south, and has widened. Many willows have been ripped away from their locations. Seven big water events during the winter of 2017 from 20 to 80k have sculpted a new environment. 

If you remember a large Digger pine that was precariously rooted on the east bank next to the river downstream of the washout on Hammonton road before the floods of this past winter, I found where it finally made its new home after the high water receded. This new woody material will provide exceptionally good habitat for salmon, steelhead, and trout fingerlings to hide from predators. The Lower Yuba River could use a lot more of this type of structure.

The wild rainbows are still on the small side from 8 to 12”, they’re eager though and not too picky. I’ve noticed in the last month they are putting on some girth and are more proportional to their size than in the past summer. It is so amazing how hard they fight for their size. I’ve been using a 6 weight, a little over kill but those little chrome missiles put a pretty good bend into it when they run. Its been a little busy on the weekends, but if you’re willing to walk, you can find your own water. Access areas like Hammon Grove can have multiple vehicles in the parking lot, and not all of them are there to fish. Many of those people are just taking hikes, playing disc golf, picnicking, and seeing the sights. Get out and scan the river, you never know until you take a good long visual. 

Nymphing in the early morning hours with eggs, stones, worms, and small flashy mayfly nymphs is working well. If you don’t want to stare at a bobber try swinging alevins, small minnow patterns, and sculpins. I’ve been using a RIO Versi Tip with a 3 ips drop rate and 4 feet of 4X. There is no rush to get to the river for the hatch, showing up late at around 11 am and walking to productive water while waiting for the hatch to come off is a good game plan when fishing dry flies. When you’ve been fly fishing for as long as I have, it’s not about numbers, but the experience, and making technical presentations to rising trout is where it’s at for me right now on the Yuba. Every day the hatch is different, and some days are better than others. Today the hatch was very light, but there have been some different mayflies active than in the previous weeks. Back when we had more cloud cover, or shade on the water, there was Pseudos, and a little larger BWO, in the last week Pinkies and PMD’s have been dominating. The Pink Alberts are the smaller mayfly coming off, and the PMD’s are much larger with a taller wing profile. There is also a difference if one fishes above the bridge or further downstream when it comes to the species of bugs coming off, there is much more shade on the water above the bridge. You just never know what's going to transpire, and an angler should always be ready to adapt to the situation at hand with a good box of dry flies that cover it all. The dry dropper rig has also picked up a few trout in the past week. A larger dry fly with good floating characteristics and a 18" dropper down to a X-May or S&M nymph #18 in olive would be a sufficient set up.

If your on the water and spot some rising fish, make a calculated game plan and go right at them. Those trout are telling you that they are actively feeding and the moment should not be wasted. Being stealthy like keeping a low profile and fishing the side water before stepping into it is a smart move. With a lower arc of the sun in the winter sky, an angler must watch their shadows as they are very long, especially in the late afternoon. As I walk upstream hunting heads I’ll stand way back while hiking along a high bank so my shadow stays off the water and does not spook those trout. Many trout have been caught just blind casting on the flats with no previous rise forms in the afternoon.

I’m finding more aquatic insects under the rocks lately and the river is coming back quicker than I anticipated. A few fully mature Skwala stones have been identified in the slack water next to the bank and below major riffles. Lots of Baetis nymphs and other mayfly nymphs have been spotted too. It makes a difference where one looks when collecting specimens. Flip rocks in aerated water, or riffles to find the most diversity. I’ve also found Hydropsyche caddis larva in the mix. It’s been really cool seeing the river grow and come back to life.

If you don’t mind small strong wild rainbows that can be caught on a variety of methods, pleasant weather, songbirds, and the occasional fighter jet or a U2 aircraft flying overhead, then the Lower Yuba River is for you. I’ve got open dates and a ton of knowledge to share with you, and good quality instruction that can advance you to the next level. 530.228.0487 ~ baiocchistroutfitters@yahoo.com See ya out there…

Friday, December 8, 2017

Echo Shadow II Rod Review

It’s amazing how specialized fly fishing has become in our current modern world. Back when I started in the 70’s I had two rods, 5 and 7 weights, both Fenwick fiberglass models matched with Pflueger reels and Cortland lines. That’s all that my Dad and I used, and we caught plenty of steelhead and trout with them. Today’s world is different, and I own more specialized rods than ever. I still like to simplify my quiver though, and have become a man of basic needs over time. A longer rod has its advantages though, and two scenarios would be high stick nymphing, or short line dry fly fishing in classic Northern California pocket water.

My current high sticking rod is the last generation of Powell rods designed by Press Powell and manufactured in Chico, Ca. It’s the 10 foot IM6 triple scrim, a beautiful rod that is medium to fast action with a soft tip and perfect for nymphing and mending long line. Because it is so rare and cherished, I hate to use in fear of beating it up or breaking it. It can’t be replaced. In searching for a day in and day out workhorse of a rod I stumbled on the Echo Shadow II, and so far I’m extremely pleased with the results. I chose the 10.6 foot model in a 4 weight, and purchased the competition kit that allows the user to increase the length of the rod to an additional 6 to 12 inches. The kit also comes with a fighting butt and slip on counter weights to balance the rod for a perfect feel, and comfort while using it all day long.

The first attention to detail that lured me to purchasing the Shadow 2 was the matte finish. I’ve always been big on being stealth, in fact I own the original Stealth Rod created by Gary LaFontaine, a damn fine fly rod in its own. Secondly I was sold on the length and the additional slip on feature for even greater length. Tim Rajeff and Pete Anderson really thought outside the box on this project. Black thin single foot guides keeps the weight down for better all around performance, keeping the rod balanced and true. The grip is a standard reverse cigar style and somewhat comfortable, I prefer a half or full wells, but the old school fly angler in me tells me to adjust and adapt, which is pretty much my method of operation. The aesthetics of the rod is classy yet not over commanding with a little flair, like the signature graphic of a stone fly nymph on the reel seat. 

I matched the rod with a Galvan Rush Light reel, I could have used a heavier reel to match the Shadow II since it is a bit tip heavy with the longer length, but the additional slip on weights offered in the competition kit fixed that. I added 3 of the washers from the kit to get a true balance of the rod while being held in my hand. The line I chose to match with the Shadow II was the weight forward In Touch RIO Perception 4, with this line I can high stick, and also switch to dry fly fishing with a quick change in leader selection.

With high stick nymphing, the casts are short and none of the fly line is outside the tip with my own personal leader construction. The Shadow II loads a heavy nymph rig quite well and is accurate in its delivery. The greatest feature on this rod for nymphing is the super sensitive tip, and I could feel my flies tick along the bottom of the river while making a drift. This is important and can save an angler a lot of flies from being lost on snags because you’re in better contact with your rig. The softer tip also allows for extra protection when using lighter tippets, and more efficient hook sets. The butt section on the Shadow II is beefy, and for a 4 weight it can handle big fish easily and tires them out for a quicker net job. With my same high stick leader during testing, I put on an Air Lock indicator and made long nymphing presentations. I was surprised at how well the rod mended large amounts of fly line throughout the drift. It also delivered line effectively from the tip of the rod using a downstream bump feed presentation without much bounce or recoil. I also tested the Shadow II with a dry fly set up and made false casts amazingly well with a nice controlled loop that allowed my leader to fully lay out. I will definitely be fishing it on the North Fork Yuba River this coming summer. The rod was equally good at swinging small streamers with a RIO Versi Tip at a drop rate of 3 inches per second.  

This rod does it all, and does it well. At $250 it’s well worth the money, and for $75 more you can purchase the competition kit and customize your rod for any situation you encounter on the river. I have yet to use this rod on a stillwater, but I imagine it would shine just as well as the other tests I made with it. The Shadow II is a fast action rod with great power and accurate tracking. Though I bought this rod for just high stick nymphing, it’s nice to know it can be used for many different applications. 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Lower Yuba River Fly Fishing Report 12/6/2018

Dominating high pressure lately with plenty of sunshine and the air temperatures are much warmer after the north wind has gone away. The flows have leveled off on the Lower Yuba River and are currently running at 1,309 cubes at the Parks Bar Bridge gauging station. Yuba County Water Agency will keep these flows for the next few weeks, subject to change if we get any precipitation which does not look good. Maybe the middle of December, or clear into January is the word on the streets before we see any rain. I hope they are wrong. Water clarity is clear. Fishing pressure is moderate to light depending on whether it is a weekday or the weekend. 

Conditions are nearly the same as my last report with a little variance in regards to the hatches. More salmon have entered the system, and in the last few days I’ve noticed new redds appearing, some have are active with players, while others are quiet. A new small side channel I fished today had several salmon doing their thing, and they were not that beat up so I assume they are on the fresh side.

I’ve heard people complain about how ugly the Lower Yuba River is and I don’t get it. If you look past the mountains of gravel and look at the intricate details of the land with songbirds, aquatic insects, vibrant moss on really cool rock structures, and the water itself – It’s a beautiful place.

With plenty of sunshine and a little breeze, it really affects the mayfly hatches. Anytime there are cloudy or drizzly conditions with mild air temperatures is a green flag for good mayfly hatching weather. During such situations, a mayfly cannot dry its wings off very effectively and remains on the water for a longer period of time, giving the trout ample time to make a thorough inspection before consuming the food item. With warmer days, plenty of sunshine, and a little wind, mayflies are able to dry their wings rather quickly and fly off before a willing trout can eat them. That’s been the case lately but still there are a few rising trout willing to play the game.

Seine samples in the riffles today were very surprising, lots of March brown nymphs that are mature and should be hatching in late winter. Baetis nymphs came in second, followed by Ryacophilla free living caddis. It’s been really cool to see the river come back since the floods, growing a little here and a little there, and rebuilding.

All styles have been effective. Nymphing with steak and eggs (stone fly patterns and beads) has been really good, another option is to switch your trailer fly to an S&M nymph #18 in olive about an hour before the afternoon hatch. Swinging minnows continues to be good. You need to work a run quickly and present to the most aggressive fish, again stripping at the end of the swing has been the key to success. 

For dry flies I’m rigged with a #18 BWO Loop Wing or Sparkle Dun with a 12 foot leader to 5X, I’ll drop to 6X and a smaller fly if I get refusals. Don’t just blind cast, sit on the bank with your neck on a swivel and look for active feeding fish on the surface. Once you find a player, engage with the hunt. The trout are still on the small side from 8-12”, the largest I’ve seen so far is 14”. I know there are larger fish out there but they just have not been in my net. That’s all I got for now, see you among the cobblestones…

Ursus americanus ~ American Black Bear
Roaming down from the foothills in search of spent salmon

Monday, December 4, 2017

Christmas Fly Fishing Gift Certificates Available Now!

A gift certificate from Baiocchi's Troutfitters is the perfect gift for your favorite fly angler, and can be used for half and full day guided trips, workshops, tours, and instruction. It's super easy to purchase the gift certificates, just follow the links provided below.

  • Download and print HERE.
  • Fill out the front, and list the recipient of the gift.
  • Pay for the trip, workshop, tour, or leave just a deposit HERE.
  • Contact me for your special authorization code, and write it on the back.
That's it! Place under the tree, or use as a stocking stuffer and watch that special fly angler's eyes light up on Christmas morning! After they calm down from the excitement of the gift certificate (which may take days) have them contact me to arrange a date on my features waters; Lower Yuba River, Frenchman Lake, Truckee River, Lake Davis, North Fork Yuba River, and the Little Truckee River.

If you have any questions please contact me at baiocchistroutfitters@yahoo.com or call me at 530.228.0487

Baiocchi's Troutfitters wishes you and your family the very best for the upcoming holiday season!

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