Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Last weekend was an epic adventure with some good friends of mine who had never set foot in the crystal cool waters of the North Fork Yuba. They were blown away at the grand cathedral of the polished granite rock formations, and the make up of the river with plunge pools and luscious pocket water. We all had perma grin as we covered vast amounts of rugged terrian working upstream, leap frogging each other, and giggling like children. That's what's so incredible about fishing this river, at least to me, is that you feel like a little kid in a candy store with no limits on fun. We laughed and cheered at each hook up while glowing in the summer sun. It was so fulfilling teaching new tricks, picking patterns, and exploring new angles on a tried and true art. It was beyond awesome for this is where magic lives!
All of the trout stalkers I was hosting were in great shape which enabled us to link beat #11 to beat #12, water I have not seen before, yet is already calling me back. We must have rock hopped about 8 hours that day in two separate sessions. It's the unknown surprise that keeps you going upstream, wanting to see new water, challenging the shifting seams, and maybe that jewel of a pool that lies ahead. Take a few minutes, scroll down, and really take in these pictures of true fly fishing. Where lightweight rods and dry flies provide the ultimate experience.
I'm so lucky and fortunate to be able to share "where the wild things are" with people who can truly appreciate it. For thousands of years this watershed has evolved into the most fantastic place to experience wild trout with a fly rod, and the rest, is only a dream...
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
This past week on the North Fork Yuba River has seen cooler air temperatures, thunderstorms, heavy rain, and lightning. The weather of late has been a saving grace, giving the river a delightful rejuvenation when it needed it the most during a critical time of the year. Fishing still continues to be great for small wild rainbows, and the scenery is as incredible as ever. I'm so moved every time I step into this river and share it with others who get off on it, its simple pleasures like this that Mother Nature provides us, that makes it so special. When you take the time to stand on a boulder as big as a house the feeling hits you, just how small we really are in the grand scheme of the great outdoors.
My guests and I have been concentrating our efforts from just downstream of Sierra City to Bassetts. This section holds the coldest water for this time of year, with plenty of opportunities for presentations with dry flies. It's been so awesome this season as I've had so many families out on the water, the bond they share through fly fishing and nature gives me hope that this modern world isn't all that bad after all.
Water temperatures have been running 57.3 to 64 degrees, thanks to the many springs and feeder creeks in the area. Though the river is low, the makeup of the upper watershed provides deep pools and generous amounts of well oxygenated water for the rainbows to thrive in. The seasons are starting to change, and there are subtle clues like the big leaf maple turning yellow on the ends of their leaves, Gray squirrels busy collecting food, and the woolly bear caterpillar is roaming about.
Speaking of trout food, the BWO’s are back with a pretty good spinner fall from 8-10am. When it comes to late season spinner falls, they generally occur when air temps hover between 58 to 68 degrees. Look for small clouds of them above the river dancing up and down, a spent wing BWO #18 as a dropper fly performs beautifully during this time. Other major food sources right now are terrestrials; hoppers, ants, and caterpillars including the Tussock moth that are in the system. Most of the October Caddis in the river have sealed off their pebble lined cases for the final pupation before emerging; it seems they will be coming off earlier than normal this year.
Woolly Bear Caterpillar
Spotted Tussock Caterpillar
The most effective dry fly this week, and still king, is the Yellow Stimulator #10-16, followed by gray and olive EC Caddis #14-18, and Club Sandwich Hoppers #10-12 in tan and brown. Go to dropper nymphs have been the Psycho Prince #14-18, Prince of Diamonds #14-16, and sub-surface Ant patterns. These rainbows prefer dry flies and nymphs with a little white accent to them.
With so many rivers, streams, and creeks in bad shape, it’s comforting to see the NFYR is still an option for resident fly anglers of Northern California, and visitors from around the globe. Grab your 3wt, load the gear, and lose yourself in the surroundings of this classic Sierra freestone river. The therapeutic sound of water rushing over and into plunge pools sets the mind free, and comforts one from within. Sanctuary.
Sometimes you have to do what's right for your soul. See the light, set your spirit free, and beckon the call...
Indian Paintbrush makes it's home among the polished granite boulders of the North Fork Yuba River.
Monday, August 4, 2014
Classinea Subulosa, also known as the summer stone can be an important part of the trout's diet during their emergence in late summer and early fall. During this time most of the big bugs of spring and early summer have hatched, some exceptions are the October Caddis, and the Isonychia mayfly which give the trout their last prime rib dinner of aquatic insects a bit later in the fall. This species is very unique because the male has very short wings and cannot fly, the female has fully developed wings yet runs across the water to oviposit her eggs. I've seen live specimens on the lower Yuba just after emergence as they crawl around moist decomposed plant matter hiding out in search of a mate. They are elusive.
It's tough to get an ID on them as they are closely related to the Golden Stone, I've misidentified them many times myself. The easiest way to tell one from the other is the Stub Wing has a large "W" on the head, while the Golden has an hourglass shaped vertical marking on its own head. Another clue to identification is the Stub Wing has much longer antenna and tails which are darker than that of the Golden Stone. On some tail waters like the Lower Yuba their emergence can be timed as the flows are decreased from the dam.
For nymphing, high sticking the side water with a nymph that closely resembles the Stub Wing is a great tactic, size and profile count more than an exact color match when choosing a fly. These presentations should be dead drifted. For the adult, a tan stimulator skated and twitched in and below the riffles can result in some very explosive takes. Aquatic insects continuously impress me, the one rule I have learned with them, is there are no rules, only guidelines. Fresh large stonefly shucks this time of year are most likely the Stub Wing, look for clues on your next venture of your favorite river, you just may find the summer stone.