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Sunday, January 13, 2019

Lower Yuba River Fly Fishing Report 1/13/2019 - Skwala Alert!

The Lower Yuba River is in great shape (for now) after days of valley rain and melting foothill snow. Releases from Scott’s Flat reservoir and Lake Wildwood were ramped up last week and the flows in Deer creek quickly rose to a high of 4,797 cubes. For a small yet very long watershed, that’s a lot of big water. When you see large spikes on the graphs it's a sure bet the Lower Yuba River will blow out. Currently the Lower Yuba River is flowing at 1,087 cfs, and Deer creek is at 55 cubes. Fishing pressure has been thick around the Hwy. 20 Bridge both on the north and south sides. I would rate the fishing as good, you’ll do much better if you move around and try different techniques throughout the day instead of parking yourself in one spot for 6 hours.

After a number of trips with my guests, I would say the two most critical mistakes are not making the correct mends for a dead drift while nymphing, and inaccurate casting to rising fish, or over casting and lining them. The dry fly game is much tougher on the flats and you can put down a rhythm riser with bad presentations. It’s much easier in choppy water or riffles as it masks your mistakes.

There are good numbers of salmon fry and fingerlings in the system and the trout seem to be keyed in on them. I’ve been using the single bunny fly above with a gray top and white bottom of rabbit strips with pearl krystal flash down the lateral line. This is a great pattern as it has life like movement and is super durable compared to marabou. The fly is about 2 inches long. Today I swung up two Joey’s, those 10 to 12” sliver bullets that put a good bend even on a 6 weight. My rig for swinging these minnows is a RIO 1.5 clear Versi-Tip with about 4 feet of 4X floro.

Today I saw 3 times more Skwala stonefly shucks than I did last week, so they are definitely out and about. I even saw a few in the drift along bubble and foam lines yet they went unmolested as far as the eye could see. The fish will start to key in on them and head for the side water where the largest percentage of Skwalas are found from noon to 4pm. I picked up one decent rainbow on the Unit Skwala around 2 pm. Look for the hatch to peak near the third week of February, and don’t forget the Skwala stone lives for a about a month or longer unlike a 24 hour mayfly life cycle.

Not as many trout rising as a few weeks ago and it seems the mayfly hatches are waning, or maybe in between broods for now. The more bugs, the more a rhythm riser will be at station and feed consistently. Today there was a light hatch of Pinkie, Pale Morning Duns, and Blue Wing Olive mayflies drifting downstream in the foam lines.

We have precipitation moving in for the next week starting Monday evening, we’ll have to wait and see just how much falls and if it will impact the Lower Yuba River. If the rain is not catastrophic the Yuba clears pretty quickly so that’s a plus. In other news I will be speaking Thursday and Friday evening at the International Sportsman’s Expo in Sacramento at the Cal Expo facility. The topic will be my PowerPoint presentation “The Legendary Lower Yuba River”. For more information go HERE.

If you’re looking to improve your skills set or learn more about the Lower Yuba River and the Skwala hatch,  I have some open days available in the next month. Give me a call at 530.228.0487, or shoot me an email at

See you on the water…

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