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Monday, January 9, 2017

Lower Yuba River Update ~ XL High Flows!

The great atmospheric river of 2017 (so far) started its wrath on the region early Saturday morning with light rain, and intensified into the evening. By Sunday morning the precipitation was heavy, along with very windy conditions here in Nevada City. The Sierra started off with snow in the morning which then turned to rain, and snow levels increased up to 9,000 feet by the evening. During the day I checked out the river at 36,000 cubes, and Deer Creek ripping at just under 8,000 cfs. I shot some video and have provided the links off my Facebook page below which delivers better quality than what Blogger can;

Lower Yuba River 36,000 cfs 1/8/2017 1pm

Deer Creek 7,889 cfs 1/8/2017 2pm

I was glued to the internet on Saturday evening checking out all the updates on social media, weather sites, and the gauges keeping track of this large event. The Carriage Inn located in Downieville was receiving encroaching flows from the Downie River and later flooded. The heavy wind and rain stopped about 10pm here in Nevada City, and creeks, rivers, and reservoirs kept rising, in fact at one point Lake Oroville had over 150,000 cfs of inflow. I woke up early this morning around 5:30 and headed down to the Lower Yuba in the dark. I took Hammonton road on the south side and could only get as far as the washout. There was not a soul around, and only the roar of the river. It was eerie. I shot some more video there, then walked out on Parks Bar Bridge and took some more footage. Click the links below to see the Yuba River at 82,000 cubes, just after the peak.

Lower Yuba River 82,000 cfs 1/9/2017 7am

Lower Yuba River 82,000 cfs 1/9/2017 7:35am

Lots of local areas were flooded like Hammon Grove Park above, including Sycamore Ranch as well. Yesterday I tried to video Englebright dam, they had the top gate closed so I parked and walked down. Just past the ranger station driveway the water levels became apparent. There was no way to legally get to the observation post as everything was flooded, even the toll booth was completely submerged.

Rivers all over the state swelled to massive proportions like the South Fork of the Yuba River above. I -80 near Truckee and on Donner summit closed twice in the last 12 hours due to mudslides. They had a big mudslide at Pyramid Lake too. Reno also had their fair share of carnage. There is endless news stories floating out there as I write, all over the northern state. This was a pretty big event. Those Know-It-All types will always make sure you're aware that this latest deluge was not as big as 1997, or 2005 while in a conversation. What about those high water events before the white man came, as passed down by generations of Native Americans? Think about it.

More weather is forecasted through Thursday with colder air temps and heavy snow in the mountains. Could see a break after then with sunny to partly cloudy skies. 

So let's get to the fishing and the future. For now the river is unfishable, it may be for a month. Even longer if we get more heavy rain or another pineapple express. The river has changed dramatically, aquatic insect life will be altered, and hopefully most of the fish got into some side slack water as the river did rise on the slow side. The river started out at 10k before this big water came through, so I would like to think the fish were already on the banks playing out the waiting game. Hammonton road on the south side has been affected near the washout and Miner's corner. Other access areas may not be usable anymore. Lots of questions with no answers until the flows come down to at least 2,000 cfs and clarity returns. When that happens I'll be drifting the Lower Yuba River and taking notes, that's for sure. The only game right now is Pyramid Lake, in the weeks to come the Truckee river, and maybe the Lower Sac. Like a wild trout, us fly anglers will adapt to changing conditions, and the challenge to be in the game.


  1. Thanks for a great update. I am sure things are now relatively the same or worse as far as flows. I look forward to exploring this area this winter/spring when flows calm down a bit.

  2. Jon, thanks so much for the updates. I can't believe the transformation your videos capture. You and I are scheduled to be on the Yuba in early March. I am beginning to think the river will still be moving too fast then. One thing is for sure, we are going to be busy figuring out the "new" Lower Yuba river through next fall. - MN

    1. Big changes MN, I'll email you my thoughts in a day or two and options. I think we are going to like the changes brought on by Mother Nature, there could be many new braided channels to fish!

  3. Jon, thanks for the informative videos. I am floored by the changes so far. You and I are suppose to spend a day on the Lower Yuba in early March. Now I am thinking the river will still be too fast to wade then. One thing is for sure, we are going to have to spend the next year, at least, figuring out the "new" Yuba.


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