It’s been since the first week of February since I’ve guided/fished on the Lower Yuba River. Remember how it started pouring rain back then and never let up until late May. There were some pretty big flows during that deluge as well, enough to move around the cobblestones and gravel, and once again change the runs and riffles ever so slightly. That’s the Yuba River, always changing. The flows are bouncing around between 1,165 and 1,130 cubes which are very good for both walk and wade anglers, and drifters. Fishing pressure overall is light between the Highway 20 bridge and Sycamore Ranch.
Remember the water upstream of the bridge is closed until December 1st to protect spawning salmon and give them a “no pressure” environment. Speaking of the salmon, I saw very few redds, and the ones I did see had no occupants around. I’ve seen this before where salmon begin to build a redd only to abandon it and keep moving upstream to construct another. We’ll see new redds on daily basis, but I think we will see a major drop in salmon returns this year, and the next upcoming four years. Why? First off, we’ll see low returns from the effects of the drought and the low flows out of Englebright dam during that time. Secondly, the high water of 2017 occurred during a time when there were still eggs in the gravel that had not hatched yet. With large amounts of the bottom substrate moving downstream you can bet those eggs were lost. You can say the same thing to a lesser extent for 2019. We shall see in the years to come what transpires, and I’m no fisheries biologist with a truck bed full of data, but common sense tells me there will be an impact to an already sad “State of the Salmon”.
The fishing for resident wild rainbows has been pretty good though, better than expected to be honest. The two rigs that worked best was a dry/dropper set up with a large yellow or orange Stimulator with a small flashy mayfly dropper about 24” below. My guests and I were surprised to see the Stimi get some attention with explosive top water eats, the trout most likely were taking it for a grasshopper. Your standard Valley River indo rig was really the best way to go, larger bug on top, with a smaller fly as a dropper. Adjusting the depth of the indicator and adding or subtracting weight will allow you to fine tune a run or riffle and be more successful. Effective flies were Red Copper Johns, Hogan’s S&M and Military May (dark colors), eggs, and legs (rubber legged stones).