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Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Lower Yuba River Fly Fishing Report ~ 1/26/2021


Before I go into my report I would like to share my perspective on the current heavy fishing pressure of the Lower Yuba River. First off, the Yuba is owned by the people of the United States as deemed by the Public Trust Doctrine, everyone has a right to enjoy it for all recreation activities so long as it does not harm the watershed, or violate any federal, state, or county laws. Is the Yuba River being loved to death by fly anglers? You bet it is, as is other sensitive rivers like the Little Truckee. Blasting other anglers on social media is not the answer. Education to others on being a good steward of the Yuba in a respectful manner is the answer. I’ve been asked to tone back my fishing reports because of the increased fishing pressure. Sorry, my family has been sharing and promoting healthy fly fishing, and detailed conservation efforts since 1970, and I’m not going to stop now.

I’m suggesting that every fly angler that fishes the Yuba, or guides that make a profit off the Yuba, get involved to preserve and protect the river. This goes beyond picking up trash, which is a feel good type of act, and makes one look very “well to do” on social media, but does little in the big picture for the wild salmon, steelhead and resident trout. Loss of habitat, flow regimes, water transfers, and ancient dam operations play a much bigger role in the health of the Yuba. You’re asking, “What can I do?”


File a formal complaint to federal, state, or county agencies. Here is an example above, just one of thousands that the Baiocchi family has submitted in the state of California for all watersheds and it’s ecosystem including fish, wildlife, habitat, and the bugs

Donate your money to conservation NGOs that are involved with the Yuba River. Here are some of my favorite groups that I donate to: (click on each one for pertinent links)

SYRCL
Gold Country Fly Fishers
Trout Unlimited California including all regional chapters
Cal Trout

Get involved with hands on volunteer work like the yearly willow count on Hammon Bar through SYRCL. If this message reaches 1 in 10 anglers that fish the Lower Yuba River, it can make a difference. I realize that the current heavy fishing pressure is a byproduct of the pandemic. Most folks are not going to the office, but rather working from home and creating their own schedules. Regardless, if you love the Yuba, get involved and make a real difference. Now, onto the fishing report…


Finally…some real weather. We’ll see just what transpires after the heavy rains and snow slam the region. Yes, the Yuba will come up, but it’s more of a “wait and see” scenario. Currently the flows are right around 740 cubes with gin clear water clarity. We definitely need a “stirring of the pot” if you will to flush the system, and get rid of the floating algae that is hampering dry fly presentations in the back eddies. Foam is good, algae is no good. I’m already rescheduling trips due to the weather and after 2017, and 2019, I’m used to it. Par for the Yuba River in winter time for the local guide.


The actual fishing has been good one day, tough the next, decent the next day, then shitty, then really good. Most days we are working hard though. I’m seeing more and more “Clippers” (Feather River steelhead) in the Yuba, and some are serious tanks!

Euro Tight Line High Stick nymphing (ETLHSN) has been the most productive in the morning for the walk and wade angler. Right around noon time the PMDs are hatching, followed by the BWOs about an hour later. I love this time of year because once the mayflies are done, it’s time to hunt the Skwala eaters. The fish know the stoners are in the foam lines and are seeking them out. We had about 5 grabs in the afternoon during yesterday’s trip. The Skwala game will only get better for weeks to come.

The Brown Dun has been out since late December, and the fish are keying in on them. This unique and beautiful mayfly is often misidentified as a March Brown on regular basis by anglers and expert guides. Since they are from the swimmer family, swinging pheasant tail soft hackles in a size 10 or 12 into the bank can be fruitful. For the adult, the time tested Adams parachute has done well for me and my guests in years past. 


Most of the salmon eggs have hatched and alevins/fry are in the system and are being consumed by resident rainbows and steelhead. Pictured above is a great anchor fly for your Euro rig and super easy to tie. I bought the pre painted jig heads at Sportsman’s Warehouse in Reno, and then added a nub of a zonker strip and some pearlescent krystal flash. Basic and easy, plus it catches large trout.

Check out my buddy and fellow WildStream Fly Rods ambassador Shane Schuster’s Skwala nymph. Shane owns Dirty Rig Fly Co. and it one of the most gifted tiers I’ve ever seen. Once the shows start up again, make sure to check out his moves and the unique materials and techniques he uses on his patterns that crush!

That’s about it for the report for now, I’ve already got my days off planned from rescheduling with tying (I’m in need!), writing, administrative work, and a few special projects and educational blog posts I will be sharing in the very near future. There are zero dates left for guided trips on the Lower Yuba until the last week of March. I do have a cancellation list going, so contact me if you would like to be added. Thanks for your continued support!

See you on the water…

Bernie and @justin_goodstock_gettaclue of GuideBox


Sunday, January 24, 2021

Togens Nymph Competition Barbless Hook Review ~ 1/24/2021

 

This hook is quickly becoming one of my favorites. The bend offers better holding power on those acrobatic native Yuba River rainbows when going airborne, or below the surface of the water with those long powerful runs. Above are two of my favorite Hogan's S&M patterns tied on the Togens Nymph Competition Barbless hook in a size 16. A proven winning pattern tied on a slayer of a hook equals quality net time. Yep, nothing but net.

Togens Nymph Competition Barbless hook vastly increases efficiency of the strike and landing the fish. Its barbless long needle-like point makes for less injury to the fish for an easy quick release. These superior hooks are made of premium high-carbon steel, hardened for strength and durability, providing a long point life and an extremely strong hook. Togens hooks use a constant taper. This provides a reliable shape, assuring no weak spots, and provides a shocking speed of penetration, and often the hook set is done by the fish itself upon being eaten. Give them a try and I'm sure you will be as pleased with them as much as I am.

Check out Togens 3x heavy scud hook in sizes 18 and 20 too! It's really hard to find small scud/pupa hooks in a 3x heavy design which translates to a greater advantage in both strength and quick sinking submersible properties. For an excellent review on this hook, Check out Cat Toy's blog post here:

https://flyfishingwithcattoy.blogspot.com/2021/01/togens-scud-3x-hooks-review.html


Enter the code TOGEN10 and mention Baiocchi's Troutfitters to receive 10% off on your next order of hooks, beads, and other cool tying materials. With major weather coming in, it's looking like I'll be spinning up more bugs at the tying bench! See you on the water after the storms!



Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Lower Yuba River Fly Fishing Report ~ 1/13/2021


It’s been a while since my last Lower Yuba River Fly Fishing report, I’ve been extremely busy guiding, writing, attending to my yearly reports and logs to the US Forest Service for Plumas, Tahoe, and Lassen forests, and perfecting the details of my latest power point “Skwalas on the Yuba”, which you must check out when you get a chance. We are in another dry spell, though we did have a little drizzle and clouds yesterday which is what you want for good mayfly hatches. 

The flows on the Yuba have been low and clear and are currently right around 740 cubes, although Yuba Water Agency did bump it up a tad this morning to 755, then back down. We’ve had some wimpy storms, some stronger than others, but still the river has barely risen because the ground is so parched. The extended forecast into the fantasy range calls for a possible change from the 20th to the 25th allowing the storm door to open. We shall see…



Fishing pressure has been heavy at times, and other times it’s just my guests and I, and that all depends on where I choose to go, be it the weekends or the week days. Local inside knowledge is a big part of my guide service. The fishing has been good some days, and others pretty slow where you really got to work harder to see results. Typical Yuba, every day is different. For example last Friday was super slow, Saturday was on fire, Sunday was a little better than fair, and Monday’s trip was on fire where dreams are made – 8 grabs on the Skwala dry including stalking side water Skwala eaters in 8 inches of water. The best game ever.


The Skwala numbers are increasing every week, I’m seeing more nymphs in the idle side water pre staging for emergence, and more shucks on terra firma which equals to more adults. Also I’m seeing more adults in the foam lines, and fish eating them off the surface. The Skwala adults are incredibly hard to see in the drift, and for those whose eyes are not in tune with the full spectrum of analyzing real time conditions as they happen, it can be frustrating. Look for little dark colored twigs floating down the currents. 


Skwalas do not flap there wings while drifting like a golden, and there is very little movement on the surface, they placidly float down with only their little legs twitching about. Prime time for fishing the adult is in the afternoon, and they love warm sunny days. I’ve seen PMDs from about 10:30am to noon, and then the BWOs come out to play. The length of each hatch varies, so when you start to see either mayfly in the drift, change quickly and be ready before the great creator turns the switch off.

Also, the Brown Duns are out, not quite a size 10, but not a 12. They look a lot like a March Brown, but it is an entirely different mayfly, and much bigger. They are swimmers, and hatch on the shoreline just like a stone fly. Best presentation for this bug during the nymph stage is swinging soft hackles into the side water, and for the adult, an Adams parachute in dark gray has done well for me.


It was interesting last weekend as I observed 3 newer salmon digging out a redd. I was a little surprised to see that, but that’s why you don’t put rules on Mother Nature. She will break them time and time again.


For fly selection we’ll start with sub surface offerings. Hogan Brown’s S&M and Military May in PMD (#14, 16) and BWO (#16, 18, 20) schemes, worms (red, natural, brown), Red Copper Johns (#14, 16, 18), Zebra Midge (#16, 18), plain old pheasant tails with no flash (#14, 16, 18) though I do tie some with hot spots in floro orange, and of course Skwala Nymphs (#10, 12, 2xl) which are way smaller and more slender than you think. 

Here is my extended body all-rounder Skwala nymph which has been working extremely well. I copied a Pat’s Rubber Leg and tied the main portion of this jig fly on a Togens #8 60 degree jig hook, then added a nub of a #12 TMC 101 dry fly hook with the bend cut off. I attach it with a small loop of 3X tied in at the rear of the jig hook. The movement is incredible and is a strike trigger for hungry Yuba bows.


On the surface, let’s start with the main attraction for the next 2 months, Skwalas. My go to pattern has been Bitterroot River guide John Cook’s Unit Skwala, though the original pattern I got from a long time client and friend 12 years ago is not the same as shown above. I’ve tweaked the pattern to my own specs over the years while using important materials that are needed for the educated trout of the Yuba River. I’ll tie them in a size 10 2xl for the female, some with egg sacks, and some without. Size 12 2xl for the male and those males are pretty small. There are other patterns I use that I will not share on this blog, some from my mentor, and most tiers would laugh at those flies. They are super simple, that’s all I can say. Spending time on the river and observing the reaction to different patterns is a whole different world than sitting at a tying bench for hours cranking out flies.


This fly tied by my buddy Bud Heintz is designed for rough water, like really rough water! It’s fully dressed and you do not want to clip the hackle on the bottom to make it flush in the surface. I’ve been clipping the hackle short on dry flies for over three decades now, another lesson learned by my mentor on the McCloud River with the October Caddis hatch. No, you want this fly to be high and dry with maximum floating properties incorporated into it for the rough stuff.

We are long line Euro Nymphing (yeah whatever you want to call it, tight line, high sticking, direct contact nymphing) in the mornings until we start seeing aquatics on the surface and rising fish, then it’s time to switch over to your dry fly rod. I will say this, fishing dry flies from the bank on the Yuba is not a “make the cast”, mend, and hang on type of scenario, especially with the Skwala game. There is so much more to it. Remember, you are hunting a wild animal with a very high sense of alertness. You must assess the situation, the type of water you will be fishing, what your approach will be (fly first, or an upstream presentation), and lastly, careful observation before you even make the cast. It makes a huge difference. Observe more...Cast less.

You can get a really clear idea on how to do this by reading my article “Skwala Primer 2021 ~ Lessons Learned” in the December issue of California Fly Fisher, or attending one of my Zoom presentations that I will be presenting to many fly clubs in the next few months. You can check my schedule HERE. Some fly clubs will open my Zoom presentations to the public like Gold Country Fly Fishers did on the 5th. After checking my schedule, it can’t hurt contacting the club and seeing if you can get permission to tune in.   

There you have it, an honest and reliable report for the Lower Yuba River. If you really want to learn how to approach fishing off the bank as a walk and wade angler, look no further and shoot me an email at baiocchistroutfitters@yahoo.com for the most extensive guide trip you’ll ever have. My trips are next level guided fly fishing, where it is very important to me to share the knowledge so you can be more successful on your own. I only have 3 days left in January, and 2 left in February. A busy schedule ahead for the Skwala Man LOL!

See you on the water…



Thursday, December 31, 2020

Lower Yuba River Fly Fishing Report ~ 12/31/20


Happy New Year! We are almost through the holidays, we’ve eaten well, and hopefully a brighter and better world looms on the horizon. I’ve been juggling many things here in the office including an all new Skwala power point (you can check my presentation schedule HERE), guiding, fishing on my own, and other fish business related items that are never ending. Fishing is decent on the Lower Yuba River, though in the last few weeks we’ve had to work a little bit harder for them with some days being better than others. 


Currently the river is running low at 758 cubes and clear. Even though we have had some weak systems push through, they have had little effect on the Yuba River rising, or even producing off colored water. We have wet weather ahead, but still too early to really tell just how much. Fishing pressure has been heavy near the easier access areas, after all it is Christmas break, and it seems there were lots of new fly rods under the tree this year. Two things will get you away from the crowds, hiking far, and fishing areas that are remote and hard to navigate.

 

On 12/26 I found the first Skwala adult sunning on the cobbles next to the river, so the hatch has begun! In 2019 I found my first one last year on the 12/27, so I beat that by one day. There are many nymphs active with a behavioral drift in the early mornings trying to relocate to the shallow calm side water where they can hatch. It will take the resident rainbows and steelhead a little while before they figure out what’s going on, and key in on this major food source. It’s only a matter of time.


If you haven’t read my latest article, “Skwala Primer for 2021 ~ Lessons Learned” in the December issue of California Fly Fisher, now would be a good time to do so. There is a ton of good usable info in the article. Check it out. 


Other food items in the mix right now are a sparse BWO hatch in the afternoons. They are small too, size 18-20. I’ve heard of some good PMD hatches upstream of the bridge near the UC Davis property too, though really inconsistent. Alevins and salmon fry are now present in the system and the fish are starting to key in on this major food source as well. Last Monday while fishing solo, I was Tight Lining an alevin jig and hooked into a beast with wakes coming off the surface as it headed for Marysville, it was gone in a matter of seconds. Not much you can do with an animal like that and 5x. Still, it was really cool to experience.

So while there are some dry fly opportunities right now with sparse hatches, we’ll see increasingly better trout behavior when there are more Skwalas and mayflies in the foam lines. Nymphing for now remains to be the best. The one tip I can give is to move often and cover water. Standing in the same place for an hour or more just limits you. Another key is to nymph the transition zones of shallow riffles into deeper water. Long line Euro nymphing, indo nymphing, and swinging are all good choices right now for sub surface. Pick your style and get after it!

Really looking forward to 2021, I have many workshops that will happen, hosted trips, regular guide trips (get on the calendar now for Skwala trips, dates are going fast!), a few more articles coming out, zoom presentations, and more time at the vice. Give me a follow on Facebook at JonBaiocchi, or Instagram @baiocchistroutfitters. As always, shoot me an email if you have any questions, need info, or if you want to book a trip at baiocchistroutfitters@yahoo.com

See you on the water…

Epeorus ~ Pink Albert clinger mayfly nymph 



Friday, December 18, 2020

Lower Yuba River Fly Fishing Report ~ Truckee WildStream Session ~ Christmas Gift Certificates ~ 12/19/2020

 

Brandon Hardy with a 23" lost Feather River fish 

It was nice to see a little weather push through last Wednesday into Thursday. I had a few hours of good rainfall here at the house in Nevada City, still a pretty wimpy series of weak systems though. The Lower Yuba barely came up in flows during it all. Yuba Water Agency did drop the flows down from my last report which is currently running at 839 cubes. Deer creek went from a whopping 6 cfs to 18 cubes during the storm. The ground is still pretty dry and it will take some heaver storms in succession to really saturate it. When that happens, we'll see more run off. It looks like we go into another dry spell with a chance of moisture near the end of the month.

Pressure has been heavy upstream of the bridge, my guest and I counted 18 anglers on my last trip up there, a mix of Yuba Drifters club members, and the general public. Because of all that continued pressure, the trout have wised up a little. A unique observation since I’ve been guiding the river the last 2 months is the increased number of Feather River fish in the Yuba system. You can tell these fish from the wild Yuba bows and steelhead by the adipose fin being clipped off. Personally I've caught 3 Feather River fish so far this fall. From 2008 up to this fall, I’ve caught 2 Feather River fish. I have no idea why there are so many of them in the Yuba right now, except the water must taste better.



Fishing remains to be decent, some days we have to work a little harder than others. We are getting most of our fish nymphing, long line Euro style. Stones, worms, baetis nymphs, S&Ms, Military Mays, and Copper Johns. I’ve been seeing some light bwo and pmd emergences, hopefully that will increase soon. We had much better mayfly activity last December. 

I’m also starting to see more salmon fry in the side water, so swinging alevin patterns will be a good way to go here for the next few months. Skwala nymphs are starting to pre stage in the idle side water downstream of major riffles. I saw my first adult skwala on December 26th last year, so any day now. My best advice for getting more numbers of fish is to stick and move, and cover water. Unless you have a pod of fish rising in front of you, then ya stay put and figure out the riddle.

Truckee session

Last Monday I finally got out to fish with WildStream Ambassadors Jamie Jorgensen, and Shane Schuster on the Truckee river. I didn’t get to fish very long as I had some business I needed to attend to in Reno, but it was a pretty good session. #20 zebra midges were best for me, and as soon as the water temps came up a little, the fish were on the feed. Another thing, fish were stacked up in certain areas, mostly transition zones of riffles into a run/tail out. Thanks for a great time Jamie and Shane, and thanks for the custom flies too!



Looking for a great gift for your favorite fly angler? How about a Baiocchi’sTroutfitters Gift Certificate! They are good for trips, clinics, workshops, and tours – Use it any way you want! 


It’s super easy too, first, go here and print the certificate: http://www.baiocchistroutfitters.com/.../BT-Gift... Then contact me for the special authorization code. Next, pay for your trip here: http://www.baiocchistroutfitters.com/baiocchis.../ Fill out the gift certificate, and place under the tree. - You're done! 

Baiocchi's Troutfitters thanks you for all of your support for the last 24 years. Happy holidays!

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Lower Yuba River Fly Fishing Report 12/5/2020


Got rain? We sure don’t. The weather patterns for precipitation are looking really bleak. According to Bryan Allegretto of Tahoe Daily Snow we will see much of the same nice weather with a few weak systems moving through in the weeks to come, and the first real chance of a storm maybe at the end of the month. Hard to say what will happen when you forecast into the fantasy range. The Lower Yuba River has been extremely busy with anglers, and now that upstream of the bridge is open, it will hopefully spread people out a little bit. 

I’ve been fishing and guiding in the upper section and you can really tell a difference with the aggressive eating behavior of the trout not seeing anglers or flies for months. They are very receptive to your offerings right now. The flows out of Englebright dam have been stable at 930 cubes. Storm flows may dictate additional releases, but it’s going to take quite a bit of rain to do such as the ground is parched. Many runs and areas on the Lower Yuba River do not fish well with these flows. It’s easier to cross the river at the current levels now, but a good flushing to mix the pot up would do wonders. Fall colors are blazing right now too, absolutely beautiful!

Yuba Master and long time guide, Frank Rinella hit the jackpot on the opener above the bridge on December 1st. Look at that athlete! Frank is heavily involved with fisheries conservation for the Yuba River and volunteers his time on the board of Directors for Gold Country Fly Fishers and Fly Fishers International. He is a wealth of knowledge on the Yuba River, and a good dude. Photo by John Simms.

Fishing remains to be good. It helps to be the first angler in a known fish pot where they have not seen flies since the day before. Make sure to be on your game when you do such as you’ll receive takes right away. The fish downstream of the bridge have seen plenty of beads drifting by them so they are not as receptive as the fish way above the bridge. Mottled natural roe and shades of orange are still the top producers for my guests and me, along with some custom paint shop beads. Still some salmon in the system and some newer redds as well. 


Check out this blog post on the current situation of “The State of Yuba River Salmon” from my buddy Tom Cannon of California Sportsfishing Protection Alliance here: https://calsport.org/fisheriesblog/?p=3409 My dad who was one of the founders of California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, and the executive director for over two decades, saw this coming in the late 80's. He had incredible insight on the problem from studying huge volumes of historical data including hatchery programs, releases from central valley dams, and how our state and federal agencies interact with each other (if at all). He called it way back then. We are just using band aids for the problem, and it's never going to heal, it’s also now infected (hatchery fish and wild fish producing offspring). More people in the state equals more water for human consumption and less water for the fish. Still though, we should never give up on good water regimes, improving a degraded habitat, and more funds for enforcement of the current fish and game laws (poaching). Enjoy what we have left, and appreciate it. Fish as often as possible and take the time to look around at the natural beauty all of our rivers, streams, creeks, and stillwaters provide. I just don't see it getting any better. I hope I'm wrong.


Long line Euro nymphing remains to be the best way to get fish in the net for my guests and I. The river is in a transitional state right now with fish the resident trout seeing fewer eggs in the drift and more aquatic bugs. Baetis and pmd hatches are getting stronger, but they have been inconsistent with a daily rhythm, and numbers of them. Still though, I’ve seen plenty of dry fly eats in the past two weeks and a good reason to bring along a dry fly rod already rigged up and ready to go at a moment’s notice. For sub surface flies, rubber leg stones in coffee/brown #8-10, Hogan’s S&M (baetis, pmd) #14-18 and his Red Headed Stepchild #14-18, San Juan worms is flesh and red, beads, and Red Copper Johns. On top you’ll want baetis patterns in both emergers and duns #18-20, and pmds #16. Go smaller if you get a refusal. 


More than anything, a perfect drift is essential. Fly first, drag free, and in the correct feeding lane, or foam line makes a big difference. The rainbows are fat right now and extra strong with all that salmon egg protein in them. Red hot runs too. Check your knots and rigging often, you’ll want a clean and reliable system when that big athlete finally eats your fly. 


All Rounder Skwala Jiggy Rubber Legs 

If you want to really understand how to fish the Yuba on your own, including the stealth factor, rigging, flies, presentations, long line Euro nymphing, specialized dry fly techniques, and entomology, shoot me an email at baiocchistroutfitters@yahoo.com, or you can try me at 530.228.0487. I’m all in on sharing the knowledge to increase your skill set for a more productive time on the Lower Yuba River!

See you on the water...




 


 


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