Spring Edition

Spring Edition
Spring Edition

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Lance Gray & Company Lower Yuba River Tour

Lance Gray of Lance Gray & Company and myself have teamed up to provide anglers a tour of the incredibly moody Lower Yuba River. We will shorten the learning curve and the countless hours of prospecting that so many anglers new to the Yuba River struggle with. Included on the tour is a highly informative day describing access points, hatches, flies, techniques, tactics, and times to fish. The tour is limited to 6 people, and the date for this opportunity will be on March 6th. To sign up or for more information please contact Lance at lancegrayandcompany@yahoo.com ~ 530.517.2204. His website is http://lancegrayandcompany.com/, where you can learn more about Lance and his highly popular fly fishing tours.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Pale Morning Dun Mayfly

The Pale Morning Dun mayfly is one of the more prettier mayflies we have here in the west, Genus Ephemerlla is a favorite among trout. This is a hatch where an angler can sleep in and have a leisurely breakfast before getting out on the water. PMDs hatch late morning to noon time. These mayflies start hatching as the weather warms in early spring, but on some rivers like the Lower Yuba they begin even earlier due to the lower elevations and the fact that it's a tailwater which can fool the bugs with the rise and fall from water releases. Colors of the dun range from a yellowish olive to light olive, and some have pastels of orange and pink. From the crawler family, these mayflies have three tails and are 7-12mm.

As PMDs get active before the hatch trout will feed heavily on nymphs that let go of the bottom part of the river and become available in the drift. High sticking is very effective during this time but I prefer to swing flies in the tailouts of major runs and riffles. The simple act of your fly rising at the end of the swing mimics the emerging nymphs quite well and aggressive takes are the norm.  The nymphs drift to the top water column buoyed by gasses trapped in their exoskeleton upon emergence. To perpetuate the species the PMDs come off in massive numbers at times which can cause quite the feeding frenzy when the trout take notice. Fish can also get fussy at this time but not too selective so an angler will still find it challenging yet fruitful.

The freshly hatched dun is active for two days, then the transformation to spinner takes place in stream side foliage. Spinners have clear wings and a rust colored body, males have over sized orange eyes that attract the female when finding a mate. After mating the male spinners fall to the water and become spent while the female drops her eggs from the air over riffles or by floating on the water. The eggs are yellow in color and some trout key in on females with egg sacs during a spinner fall. The rusty spinner is the standard dry fly to use at this time.

The PMD Sparkle Dun is my go to fly when duns are hatching, refusals are rare with this fly and the trailing shuck lets trout know that this mayfly is a helpless emerger, or even a cripple which translates to an easy meal. Sizes 14 and 16 will cover any hatch you may encounter. Now is the time to spin up some PMD patterns and fill your box with dreams of blanket hatches and rising tout.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Skwala Stoneflies Are Starting to Hatch On The Lower Yuba

Every January fly anglers look forward to one of the most anticipated aquatic insect hatches on the lower Yuba River; The Skwala Stonefly emergence. It’s a hatch where fishing the dry fly right next to the bank where the naturals crawl out from the water gets the best results. This stonefly gets active in mid-December and nymphs make their way to the quiet waters next to the cobble stone banks. When conditions are right, the nymphs crawl up the shore and under loose rocks and hatch into a fully mature winged adult whose prime purpose is to find a mate to produce offspring.

Warms days are best for a good hatch; the adults make their way to the tops of the rocks and warm up in the sun. The female will then fly over the water, some drop their sacs from the air like a clumsy B-17 bomber and others land on the water flush and float down the currents before releasing the eggs. It’s the latter that gets the attention of a hungry trout looking for a big meal in the meager cold winter months. As the weeks go by in January and into February the trout “key in” on the stoneflies, they know the insects are in the system and available for their afternoon meal.

Photo by Dan LaCount

Keys for the fly angler to be successful are for one using a good pattern. The bullet head Skwala with rubber legs gives the fly plenty of movement and just the right profile of the natural, it fools the wariest of trout most every time. Secondly these fish are spooky and selective when in the skinny water next to the bank. Their senses are on high alert for predators like the Blue Heron, and selective because of the masses of fly anglers fishing for them with artificial stonefly patterns.

One way to cut down on trout refusing your fly is to present it fly first, casting downstream and feeding out line to your intended target with a drag free drift. This way the fly comes into their view first and not the leader and fly line. Lastly look for active fish rising for the Skwala stonefly, and hone in on their exact location before making your presentation to them. Blind casting and beating the water can push the trout away from the bank and out of the feeding lanes. The lower Yuba offers the best dry fly fishing in winter for the entire state and fly anglers should concentrate their efforts here for it’s the best game in town!

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