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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Lower Yuba River Fishing Report 12/29/2015

It’s been really cold in the foothills and on the Lower Yuba River the last week with temperatures hovering in the high twenties in the morning. We even had a dusting of snow yesterday morning. The good news is the fishing is steadier than the past 3 weeks. Nymphing is getting the job done right now and transition zones from riffles to the edge of deeper water has been very productive. Nymph rigs with Jimmy Leg stones, or red San Juan worms with small mayfly nymph droppers is key. Effective dropper flies have been Hogan’s olive S&M, his Little Amigo in dark brown, and flashback Pheasant Tails in very small sizes #18 to 20. 

Many anglers think that some runs are always effective but here’s the truth; the fish reside where the majority of the food is, and they will move great distances to find such. Current flows from Englebright are bouncing around from 648 to 656 cubes, and Deer Creek is trickling in at 19 cfs. I have found a few skwala stones staging in the side water awaiting emergence, but we need a little warmer weather to get them going. I have not seen very much mayfly activity as well. Long range weather forecast is calling for a week of sunny weather with some clouds. The following week could offer a parade of storms marching through. Our snowpack in the Tahoe area is at 110% of normal. Keep it coming Mother Nature.

Mark your calendars for January 21st to the 24th for the annual International Sportsmen’s Expo in Sacramento. I’ll be speaking on the 22nd at 4:30pm with a Lake Davis Presentation, followed by a very informative Lower Yuba River presentation at 1:30pm on the 24th. The ISE programs director has brought in a bunch of new blood this year at both the fly fishing theater, and the casting pond. Many of these top Nor Cal guides are on the Lost Coast Outfitters team and you can assure you’ll learn something while being there. Here’s hoping everyone has a safe and Happy New Year, 2016 is going to go off!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Lake Davis, Little Truckee River, Lower Yuba River, North Fork Yuba, And Small Creeks ~ The Year In Review

Every year a few weeks before Christmas I reminisce about what transpired through the year of my adventures, trips, and general shenanigans. I’ll lean back in my office chair and just zone out, daydreaming and reliving the highs and the lows. I’ll think about the fish that were caught, the ones that got away, and most importantly, the interactions of good times with my guests. To be honest, it’s pretty awesome to be able to stop time and think back. I’m lucky to have found a schedule that involves many watersheds and still waters as my season rotates around me. My year is different than most guides, I have the availability and permits to work three different National Forests, plus no man’s land; the valley rivers. My year starts on the banks of the Lower Yuba River until the end of March. Then it’s off to the Little Truckee, the Middle Fork Feather River, and Lake Davis whenever ice out happens. This continues until the end of May, and after that it’s all Lake Davis until water temps become too warm. I jump over the hill and concentrate on the North Fork Yuba River which provides cold water and the perfect classroom for my beginning students. As September rolls around I’m back at Lake Davis, but also squeezing in a few more trips on the North Fork Yuba. Once Lake Davis starts to ice up I’m back down the hill and ready for a break (ha ha, yeah right), and I’m right back where I began this; The year in review.

The skwala hatch on the Lower Yuba River this year was pretty damn good despite low water levels and gin clear water. The odds were against us but we managed some great days. I always learn a little bit more about this hatch, and the other great hatches by being on the water and seeing first hand the clues that are offered. I had a great float with Tom Page of Reel Anglers on a day off, it's always enlightening to spend a day with a guide who knows the river so well. The Lower Yuba Tours headed by Lance Gray and myself was well received again by all those that attended. To really get to know the Yuba and gain the confidence needed to be successful on your own; look no further. Besides the skwalas, I think the next best hatch was the Pinkies, followed by the March Browns. The Lower Yuba River is moody, unpredictable, and challenging - And that's the addiction for my guests and I. 

Though my time on the Little Truckee is short, it's still a great experience to be out there and sharing the knowledge. As we all know, it can be a tough game in the catching department, but that just makes one a better angler. The highlight for me this year was not just the fishing, but how many warblers and songbirds were migrating through. I could close my eyes while leaning back on a big tuft of native grass and be content with the sweet melodies of the birds pouring down the valley. We did not see that much surface action while I was there, but enough of a 2 hour window at times to get my guests stoked and hooked up. I learned even more about this special place from my good buddy Chris Maher, and Da Dean of Guides Frank Pisciotta. Good times for sure.

One of my favorite weekends this year was the Small Streams Clinic, another Lost Coast Outfitters joint effort to teach students how to best approach a small body of water and do some creekn’. I was joined with guide Tayler Wells for this two day escape into the wild. Though we were rained on, and found some creeks void of water, we had a blast! The biggest surprise was when one of our guests hooked the biggest rainbow I’ve ever seen in the canyon section of Jamison creek, 13”! I’m looking forward to next year and spreading the knowledge with another clinic.

Normally I put many days on the Middle Fork Feather River, but on the third year of a serious drought I’ve never seen the river so filled with silt and very little holding water. I did one trip this year and it was a workshop in conjunction with Lost Coast Outfitters. My students learned many things and a feel for where to go and what to use once the river returns to normal. Still though, if the fishing is not the best, the Middle Fork Feather does offer solitude and beauty. With a decent snowpack already, I hope this river gets flushed, and is ready to give up some offerings next season.

The damselfly hatch at Lake Davis was awesome this year, especially during the first part of the hatch. As time went on, the resident rainbows wised up and had a PhD in deciphering a natural from an artificial. We learned even more this year with the low water, and where they prefer to go during such conditions. The Lake Davis Still Water Outings were once again a big hit, special thanks to Rob Anderson for doing most of the work, and giving our guests the best time possible. It’s a must experience. The Hex hatch was very different this year and the bugs were hatching in some very unusual places. It’s all about the last half hour of light. My last day was July 7th on Lake Davis as water temperatures became too warm, and I knew it was time to head to cooler water.

July and August on the North Fork Yuba River is absolutely the best, The sun is out, it's warm, wet wading in the cool water, and small wild rainbows on the dry fly. I got a lot of feedback from other anglers and guides that the river was too low to fish. That's nonsense. Yeah, the river was low, but it only concentrates the fish into the deeper pools, and pockets. No need to worry about warm water temps either since there are so many springs in the upper watershed. As a guide, the river saved me this year with 38 trips completed, while other waters were too low and warm to guide on. The experience that the North Fork Yuba provides is unmatched. Canyon water, insane views, double digit catch numbers, and solitude. I'm really looking forward to next year and rock hopping my way upstream through the plunge pools.

In late Summer Ken Hanley of Pacific Extremes, myself, and our good friend John had another video project in the works while chasing the elusive "Golden Ghost". Water temps were cooling down quickly on the Middle Fork Feather River, and we were running out of time. All of us do not like to rush out productions if the content is not right. We opted to finish the project in the summer of 2016. I'll let you know when it's a wrap.

September was excellent at Lake Davis with dry flies when the Blood Midges and Callibaetis Mayflies were hatching. But the famous month of October failed again for the second year in a row. Low water levels left many productive flats high and dry, so the fish went deep on the east side and consumed Daphnia (zooplankton) as their meal. I also think the population of rainbows in the lake is very low. I keep logs of catch rates, and every season for the past three years they have been lower and lower. The best case scenario is they plant the lake with big numbers, and the water levels come up. Only time will tell.

It's back to the Lower Yuba as we wait for the skwala stones to appear. I can hardly contain myself thinking of a good drift and the aggressive take from a hot rainbow with line peeling out at Mach 3. I want to take this time to thank all my guests who joined me in the quest of adventure and true fun. I also want to thank all the guides and others from the fly fishing industry who support me, including the fly shops I network with that have been so generous. 2015 was a good year despite the drought. 2016 will be even better. I'm going to turn it up a few notches and continue to provide the best service available, and teaching the ways of the fly and rod. Happy holidays!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Baiocchi's Troutfitters Gift Certificates Now Available For Christmas 2015

Looking for the perfect gift for the special fly angler in your life? Consider giving them a gift certificate from Baiocchi's Troutfitters, and share a day on the water with me. Not only will they have a fun time, but they will learn new techniques and tactics to improve their skill set. The recipient of the gift certificate will also learn about the particular water we are fishing, and the local flora and fauna. This is a gift that will surely put a smile on their face, and some anticipation of a great day.

It's easy, just contact me at Baiocchistroutfitters@yahoo.com, or by calling 530.228.0487. I'll handle all the details, then send you a link where you can print the gift certificate, fill it out, then put it under the Christmas tree. Happy holidays everyone, I hope you and your family enjoy the festivities, and eat well!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The El Nino Circus

For those of us who grew up in Northern California, heavy precipitation was a way of life in the wet months. I can remember when I grew up in Paradise, Ca It would rain intensely from September to the month of May every year. This year there has been a lot of hype with El Nino, and the first thing out of my mouth was "I'll believe when I see it." Well let me tell you Nevada City has been rockin with heavy rain all last night. I believe it now, we're finally getting dumped on!

We had a brief break in the morning with on and off light showers, then big amounts of rain, hail, and lightning shows. I'll never complain about the weather again, even if that means I'm stuck inside. Pretty awesome to see it just downpour. I was a little nervous when the hail got to be bigger as I have a partial glass ceiling in my office, plus the sound it was making was like being next to an F-18 Hornet. Absolutely deafening.

I'll be stoked to get out and wet a line in a few days, I've been swamped with writing my book, USFS special use reports, paying all my guide fees for 2016, and other detailed administrative work. I don't think we'll see the Yuba River come up for a while out of Englebright dam, but hey at least Deer Creek is up to 132 cfs instead of 5 cfs. A good little flush is a good thing. More precipitation through Tuesday, get out and play in it, and enjoy.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

LG&C Pontoon Workshop A Huge Success / Lower Yuba River Report 12/1/2015

Yesterday Lance Gray and myself held our second pontoon workshop on the Lower Yuba River teaching our guests on how to safely navigate and operate a pontoon boat on moving water. We met at Sycamore Ranch, set up our crafts, and shuttled them up to the Parks Bar / Highway 20 Bridge. We explained the best way to set up your boat including carrying your rod, dry bag storage, proper inflation of bladders, oar specifications, and anchor systems.

We followed that up with the basic paddling strokes, pivots, and how to move from one side of the river to the other. Most people think rowing is easy until they get in the cockpit and then realize there is more to it. That's the great thing about our pontoon workshops, you get to experience real time floating conditions while learning the river, and the famous runs.

We took to the water and began our float under an overcast sky and a chill in the air. The skill set by our students was greater than anticipated, and they quickly learned the dynamics of proper floating. There was a few tense moments where some of them panicked a bit with obstacles in their way, but I kept enforcing to keep your cool, look ahead, choose your line, and commit.

Lance and I have another pontoon workshop scheduled for March 6th 2016. Only five spots are open at this time. Click here to see some videos from yesterday's workshop. Also check out the October issue of California Fly Fisher Magazine where I wrote a very detailed article on the finer points of piloting a pontoon boat. The experience of the workshop is very informative, and most of all fun. You'll learn techniques like feathering your oars, back strokes, forward strokes, jogging, scissor pivots and one oar pivots, slowing down your speed, tackling rapids, avoiding obstacles, and setting up your boat. To get involved, please contact Lance for booking and click here; Lance Gray and Company. Specail thanks to Outcast Boats for providing our students with dry bags, the gesture was very well received by all.

Though the day's main focus was on pontoon boats we did manage a few hours of fishing resulting in a few tugs while swinging flies, and indicator fishing. We had a slight rain shower and after it stopped a sizable blue wing olive hatch commenced with a few heads poking up. Getting the dry fly eaters to eat was another story, but our students learned some very valuable skills that will aid them in the their future trips on the river.

At this time the Lower Yuba River is in transition as the resident rainbows are switching from eggs to aquatic insects. Typical conditions exist from a decent day to very slow fishing. For swinging I suggest an olive Slumpbuster or salmon fry / fingerling patterns. Nymphing; Hogan's S&M nymph, San Juan worms, and Tom's Mangy Prince. When it comes to the bwo hatch try a very small parachute with a flat wing spinner trailer in the size of #20. It's going to be a painful wait until the skwala stones pop out and hatch, and speaking for myself I get amped just thinking about it. A cold storm with heavy precipitation will be coming in this Thursday, then clearing for the weekend. Make sure to check the flows from Englebright Dam, and Deer Creek, combine the cfs flow to get an accurate measurement before you go. Best of luck and I'll see you on the water.

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