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Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Northern Sierra Fishing Report and Future Conditions ~ Lower Yuba River, Truckee River, Middle Fork Feather River, Lake Davis, Frenchman Lake, and Lost Sierra Creeks 3/18/2019



Spring has sprung in the Northern Sierra, and the seasons are changing. In the last week I’ve noticed a major shift in bird migration with robins, and other songbirds seeking the foothills and higher elevations. It won’t be long before the warblers infiltrate the Sierra meadows for late spring and summer. Many rivers are high with flows but no matter if they are clear or dirty, these types of conditions often produce the biggest trout of the year as those fish  have the power to navigate big water, and the agility to feed efficiently. Plenty of water will be in the many systems for the summer and fall, we may be out of a drought, but we all know how California is and the future of precipitation is always in question. So with that bit of good news, let’s dive into current and future conditions of my native Northern Sierra.


Lower Yuba River: Current flows are at 4,500 cubes and have been creeping downwards in the last week. Though a tad high, the water is clear. A few fish are being caught, mostly with streamer patterns like minnow and sculpin patterns, and the standard black bunny leech. Hatches have been light in the last week and I have not seen a riser. Yuba Water Agency will continue to release flows from Englebright dam in the 3,500 cfs range and they expect that Englebright will keep spilling for the next week at the earliest. These higher than normal mean flows will most likely keep on going for the next month or more, then YWA will continue with the agriculture flows through the end of August. Trout have to eat. Don’t let high water hamper your efforts.


Truckee River: I’m switching gears next week and will be guiding and fishing the Truckee River. I’ve got some good reports from my close friends who guide and fish up there full time. I love high water on the Truckee River as the trout are concentrated in the soft water next to the bank. Where there is one, there are another 5 more. Prime lies matter most to them during this time of year, and since they can be far and few between, they learn to share them. Big worms, stones, eggs, and large dark nymphs will work best for nymphing. Streamer game is on point too. It’s not all about the swing and strip either, High stick nymphing a heavy streamer such as a crayfish in the right water will get results. Look for more reports from here on out from me. I’m looking forward to getting back to my roots once again.



Middle Fork Feather River: Last season on the MFFR was the best in a long time, and with an abundance of water again, look for conditions to be even better. Large trout migrate heavily in this river during high water. During the higher flows of spring, bigger fish will be spread out in the upper watershed. Streamer tactics often entice the 18-24” fish, but you’ll have to work hard for them. As the flows drop most trout will go with the flow and head down to the canyons, especially when water temperatures have spiked upwards, but then the bass and carp games reveal themselves with a different and unique option. Spring and fall on the MFFR offer something that most rivers in California can't – Solitude, especially if an angler is willing to hike away from the major access areas. 

The Middle Fork Feather River is managed by the US Forest Service as stated in the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act by Congress in 1967. The people own the river, and there is no private water. Being a navigable river, any person that is fishing, hiking, or recreating can move up and down the river as long as they have entered on public land, or by a Cal Trans easement and staying within the high water mark. If you’re hiring a guide for the MFFR, make sure they have proof of a US Forest Service Special Use Permit to commercially operate there. I look forward to sharing my decade’s long experience with fly anglers new to the Middle Fork Feather River.




Lake Davis & Frenchman Lake: Currently Lake Davis is at 83% of capacity, and Frenchman Lake is at 84% of capacity. I really don’t like when Lake Davis is really full, there is less coves and the fish are scattered and harder to find. Also the weed beds from the season before are much deeper. I do like Frenchman when it is high as the north end of the lake is more productive, and it spreads out other water recreationist though out the lake so they do not tend to interfere with us fly anglers. At the beginning of March I had a short meeting on the phone with the head fisheries biologist for Plumas and Sierra counties about Lake Davis and Frenchman Lake. The first question raised was do fly anglers want Brown trout in LD, I said very much so and that it may bring back fly anglers to the lake. As you know many fly anglers gravitate to the Truckee and Little Truckee rivers to quench their appetite for browns. We agreed the browns could put a dent into the out of control bass population as well. This plant could very well happen if everything falls into place. LD will be receiving 40,000 catchable Eagle Lakers, and 40,000 sub catchable Eagle Lakers for 2019. When those plants will happen is unknown at this time.


Frenchman Lake will receive 150,000 sub catchable Eagle Lakers for 2019. The reason the lakes have not been planted in the last few years is due to a change in planting schedules. These schedules have a starting month and an ending month within the calendar year. There was a delay in implementing the new schedule which led to no overlap of the schedules, thus impending a dry period. This was not caught until late July of 2018 which led them to plant 20,000 pounds of catchable rainbows in August at LD. We should see better results in the following years, especially year 3. Now if they could change the regs from a 5 fish limit to 2, and 4 in possession instead of 10, I'd be really happy. The future looks bright!




Lost Sierra Creeks: With a huge snow pack this year, you can expect conditions to be a month later than normal. I’m thinking the last week of June into the end of September will be best. The creeks of Eastern Plumas County fished really well last year since the drought, just like my dad used to say “If you want better fishing and bigger fish, just add water!”


If you’re looking to fish the Northern Sierra and the creeks of the Lost Sierra this spring, summer, and fall, do not hesitate in contacting me for a trip, advice, or information. As a Northern Sierra native, I’m always willing to share the knowledge. 530.228.0487 baiocchistroutfitters@yahoo.com 

See you on the water…

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