Spring Edition

Spring Edition
Spring Edition

Saturday, July 23, 2016

North Fork Yuba River Report 7/23/2016 ~ On Fire!

The North Fork Yuba River has been fishing extremely well, so good in fact you could say it's on fire. Water temperatures in the upper watershed are running 55 to 61 degrees. Lower down near Downieville the water temps are at 59 to 66 degrees. I just completed eight trips back to back and I'm very in tune with the current conditions. Water levels have dropped a tad in the gorge sections revealing more fishable water and pockets. It's perfect right now. The river did change a little from our so called average winter, some runs are much deeper in certain areas.

It's been a complete blast on the river. If you are making a trip to the NFYR to fish make sure you bring a lighter rod like a 3wt or smaller, it will be so much more enjoyable and fun. Bust out the bamboo, or a fiberglass rod, and those vintage Hardy reels too. An angler who can read water efficiently, including drag free presentations in the micro currents, and complex varied seams will do very well. Imagine if you will getting over a hundred strikes in a half day session, and if you're quick on the set you can C&R 40 to 50 fish.

Wild rainbows have been anywhere from 3 to 10", with the occasional 12 incher thrown in. They may not be big but they are without a doubt one of the most beautiful specimens in the west. Their greatest quality is their eagerness to take artificials. It's quite the thing to see one of these smaller fish suck down a big dry, I have no idea how they can get it in their mouth.

One of the many lessons my father taught me was to never ever put rules on Mother Nature. Pictured above is a great example, a summer Skwala stonefly, only 4 months late to the party.

In the idle side waters of the North Fork Yuba River thousands of cased caddis can be found roaming around. I have yet to ID them but their cases are made entirely of organic material like pine needles, and bark. When fishing the evening, go with a single E/C Caddis #14-18 in amber, gray, or olive. Other aquatics in the mix are PED spinners, craneflies, a few golden stoneflies, yellow sallies, and right at dark the humongous dobsonflies.

As we move into the hottest time of the year, it's important to locate the cold springs that come into the river. Where springs flow directly into the river, trout will move into these areas when water temperatures increase. The springs are also a great refresher when it's really hot out by dunking one's head underneath.

I had the pleasure of guiding 7 year old Andrew on the finer points of fly fishing pocket water and plunge pools. Though he has fished before, our day on the water resulted in him catching his first wild trout all on his own! He landed several more as well. It was so awesome to see his dad light up and express his joy to his son. It's these types of experiences why I love to share and teach fly fishing, and always will.

Sunshine and water, with a splash of wild trout. If you're looking for adventure, solitude, and gorgeous surroundings, the North Fork Yuba is the place to be. I have some dates available in August, and the first half of September. Give me a call at 530.228.0487, or email me at baiocchistroutfitters@yahoo.com to get on my calendar. See you on the water...

A Crimson Columbine aquilegia formosa hangs precariously on a cliff next to a cold water spring.

Friday, July 15, 2016

North Fork Yuba River Report 7/15/2016 ~ Canyon Trout

The North Fork Yuba River has been fishing very well from morning to early afternoon, then for the evening hatch. Water temps in the upper watershed are still on the cold side from 56 to 61 degrees, they will be a little higher the more one travels downstream. I’m very surprised how much water is still flowing down the river for the middle of July, and in the tighter sections with a steeper gradient, the water level is a tad high with less fishable water. The many springs that come into the river are pumping out good volumes of 42 to 46 degree crystal clear subterranean water. Fishing pressure has been moderate in the more easy access areas, and extremely light in the more remote sections. 

It doesn’t get much better than this. Dry flies and eager small wild rainbows, wet wading in the cool water, and amazing flora and fauna. Rattlesnakes are out and I ran into the same snake in the exact same area as the past three years. I’ve decided to name him Larry since we seem to see each other so much. Larry did not coil this time or rattle, and just quietly moved back to his den. I like it when they do that. Fishing wise it’s been so damn fun for my guests and I. 1 to 3wt. rods, a good floating line like RIO’s “Light Line” series, and a 7.5 foot leader is all that is needed. You can fish a dropper off your dry, or just go with a single dry fly, sometimes they just want it on top and that’s when I’ll take the dropper fly off. Great dry fly patterns include yellow and orange Rubber Leg Crystal Stimis, Royal Wullfs, Purple Haze, E/C Caddis, Yellow Humpies, and the R/S Ant. Go to dropper flies have been Copper Johns in red, Psycho Prince, PT Flashback, and hard body ants that sink in black. The wild rainbows in the upper river have been small 4 to 10 inches, with the occasional brown. Downstream near Downieville you’ll get into bigger trout, with some being planters. I’ve heard of some good reports in the evening down in this section with some fish from 14 to 16 inches.

Active aquatics flying around have been a few Golden Stoneflies, Yellow Sallies, PED spinners, Tricos Caddis, and Crane flies. For terrestrials it’s mainly been ants, and I have yet to see enough hoppers to warrant using one, but I’m sure they would get some grabs. It looks like the North Fork Yuba River will be in good shape for the rest of the summer. Just remember to take water temperature readings throughout the day and stop fishing when they reach 68 degrees or higher. The season is short on the NFYR, so get out there and enjoy one of the most beautiful watersheds in all of California.

A secluded patch of Western Azalea rhododendron occidentale inhabits a hard to reach section of the North Fork Yuba River.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Lance Gray & Company / Baiocchi's Troutfitters Colab Pontoon Workshop

What a beautiful day for a float on the Lower Yuba River, not too hot, plenty of sunshine, and flowing water. Today did not disappoint, I have so much fun on these pontoon workshops! It's awesome to see our students learn so much, and also to see their progression rate by the time we pull out at the Sycamore Ranch boat ramp.

After some controlled mayham getting the boats put together, and loaded up for the shuttle up to Parks Bar Bridge, the class began. The first topic is safety including always wearing a PFD, what to do if you dump your craft, and looking downstream and line selections avoiding hazards. I then go over the basics of a personal watercraft, with inside secrets on how to properly carry your rod, frame placement, proper air inflation, repair kits, and DIY upgrades to oars, and accessories.

Next, I take to the water and describe the different moves needed to safely and effectively maneuver your PWC. Single oar pivots, scissor pivoting, back strokes, forward strokes, jogging forward strokes, and ferrying from one side of the river to another. There is a nice big back eddy for our students to practice in before we send them down the gauntlet of the Lower Yuba River.

About midway down we pull over before Miner's Corner as Lance provides a fresh wholesome lunch under the convenience of some shade. We then walk down to Miner's Corner which is one of the more technical rapids for novices to encounter. We make a game plan with two different lines to choose from. One is more demanding yet more fun, and the other on the inside corner is the safe way out. Then we board our crafts and pound the water through the rapids. Everybody passed with flying colors on this section!

Check the video of tackling Miner's Corner

We continued down the river, and then fished select spots along the way. A few fish were hooked, but the main emphasis on the day was learning how to pilot your PWC. Swinging large sculpin patterns, and dead drift nymphing was the most effective.

I must say that after floating the river it has changed in many big ways from the 13,000, 16,000, and 30,000 high water events we received during the winter. There is way more skinny water as finer material has moved in to certain areas and tail outs. Even today at 1,535 cubes it was very noticeable. When they drop the flows down to 500 to 700 cfs, there is going to be a lot of drift boats grinding through, and many guides will have to get out and walk their boats through. The other thing I noticed is there are many more deeper troughs, transition zones, and bank water since floating the river before the events. Aquatic life is still slim for both nymphs and adults. When the river comes back, there is much more productive habitat to support the wild fish that inhabit the Lower Yuba River.

What a day, so damn awesome! Special thanks to all our guests who participated in this very informative workshop. Lance and I have other workshops and clinics on the 2016 calendar, with some spots available. To reserve your spot, and more info, contact Lance directly to book at; Lance Gray and Company. The upcoming events include;

-The Lake Davis Tour, September 6th & 7th.
-High stick and standard nymphing workshop on the Truckee River,  September 10th.
-Streamer School on the Truckee River September 11th.
-Yuba River Pontoon workshop September 18th.

Check with Lance to see the availability to participate if your interested. See you on the water...

Friday, July 1, 2016

Northern Sierra Fishing Report ~ Lake Davis, Middle Fork Feather River, North Fork Yuba River

After being on the road for 41 days, and mostly sleeping in the back of my truck, it's nice to be home. My own bed, my home computer, and a hot shower anytime I want one. The last week at Lake Davis has seen the fish wise up to artificials when fishing the damsel hatch. It can be frustrating to have boiling large trout in front of you, yet not get a grab. There is a few tricks you can do during this time, which happens every year after the lake gets pounded by fly anglers. During the damselfly hatch the rainbows are way up in the water column, and also in some very skinny water. These two factors combined give the resident trout a very small cone of vision. putting the fly right in front of them is everything. But when they refuse your fly, or worse, grab it and immediately spit it out, you need some different tactics. Try fishing a rubber leg ant pattern, like the Loco Ant. You'll have to have some skill to put it in front of them, and don't forget to twitch your fly. Another tactic is to use a high floating snail pattern with a 12" dropper to a callibaetis nymph, or a blood midge pupa. Other anglers in the know use sparse streamer patterns to entice a take.

There has been a pretty good indicator grab in the afternoon until about 4pm. present your flies 9 to 10 feet down in 13 to 15 feet of water. Albino Winos, red Copper Johns, flashback Pheasant Tails, and snail patterns have been working really well. Use 3x in this situation as the fish can take you into some thick weed beds and break you off. Hexes are still coming off all over the lake, and some fish are on them. Keep in mind the hatch will go through July but warming water conditions will put an end on fish taking them off the surface.

Fishing pressure is starting to wane except for the weekends. Try to fish areas that have been receiving little pressure. Don't pick the points my guests and I have been hammering for the past 5 weeks, they know my boat quite well by now. Water temps are ranging from 63 to 68 degrees. Be wary of playing fish too long in warmer water, releasing them safely may not happen and you'll be faced with a catch and keep scenerio. I'm done with the lake until September. It was a pretty good spring at Lake Davis, and those fish are huge right now.

The Middle Fork Feather looked like her old self this spring with plenty of water. Even during my last trip guiding below Two Rivers on the 26th, I marveled on how much water was still flowing, thanks in large part to Jamison Creek. I was surprised on my trips this spring because well, we caught fish. After three years of low water conditions my expectations were low. Nothing big for my guests this season, just wild bows 8 to 14 inches long. Hatches have been great and currently there are a few salmon flies and golden stones still left. There has been a thick Trico spinner fall in mid-morning, and caddis, yellow sallies, and pale evening duns rule the evenings. It's a morning and evening game now.

The river from Two Rivers upstream is done except for making presentations to carp and bass, for those fish this is prime time. Concentrate where feeder creeks enter the river, and cool shady areas for rainbow and brown trout. Water temps are currently 61 to 65 degrees, and fishing pressure is light. this fall should fish well with the annual BWO spinner fall that last for months. Let's hope we see another decent winter so the resident wild fish can excel, and aquatic insect populations can continue to thrive.

Yesterday my first guide trip of the summer season commenced on the North Fork Yuba River. I had the pleasure of teaching four members of the Tahoe Truckee Fly Fishers the finer points of fishing pocket water, pools, and short line high sticking dry dropper rigs. I took them to one of my more remote beats, and with first tracks of the year the fishing was really good for small wild bows. The river was still a little too high for my likes, and water temps started out at 55 degrees at 8am. The usual flies worked, but presentation and location placement was far more important. The river should be in prime shape in the next few weeks. I have some available days left in July and August, and would love to guide you on some special sections of the river where even during the dog days, springs pump in 42 degree water. 

Tahoe Truckee Fly Fishers Cliff Frazier Memorial Kid's Trout Camp

As a member of the Tahoe Truckee Fly Fishers I was excited again to participate and donate my time to the Cliff Frazier Memorial Kid's Trout Camp. This year's event was held on June 20th through the 22nd. We had 12 kids, all boys, and some with quite a bit of experience fly fishing. Once again San Francisco Fly Casting Club graciously allowed us to use their riverside facility, and let the kids fish on their private stretch of the Truckee River. As a club we cannot thank them enough, it really makes the experience so much more special for all those attending and volunteering.

Who was Cliff Frazier? Current TTFF President Dick Gander said it best. "Cliff was a long time member of Tahoe Truckee Fly Fishers and an all around wonderful fellow. He loved to share his experience with everyone on the stream. Upon his passing, his wife donated to the club to continue his spirit of giving back to young anglers, and we continue with that tradition to this day."

Day one was held at the Tahoe Donner club house, students learned the dynamics of casting, rigging, and knots. More than a introduction, day one sets the tone and gets the kids amped up for the following two days chasing trout on the water.

Day two started off with a Powerpoint program on entomology created by fellow club member Mike Brugh. I lead the class explaining in the most simple terms the life cycles of the four main aquatic insects, and the role they play in supplying trout with the necessary food to survive. We then walked down to the Truckee River armed with collection tools, and took a sampling of bugs. The most prolific bugs found were October Caddis, Pale Evening Dun mayflies, Green Drake mayflies, free living caddis, midge larva, and other caddis. We then parked ourselves in the shade as Tim Haddon (head fly fishing guide for the SFFCC) and I went over the different flies that imitate aquatic insects from our samplings. The kids go crazy for the bug class! It's so much fun for them, and myself.

Next it was time to wet a line and hook into some fish!

Day Three, and the morning started with a split session with one group learning to tie flies from TTFF club members John Marcacci, and Dick Gander. The tying class is important because it connects the aquatic insect sampling from the day before, and binds the two together. The students learned the importance of matching the hatch for a greater success while fishing.

The other group went out and fished again. Our students were much more comfortable on the third day, and the results showed. One of the kids I was guiding had eyes of an Osprey, He could see into the water and knew exactly where the fish were at. I joked with him and asked he wanted a part time job spotting fishing for my guests. More fish hooked, more smiles, giggles, and hoots of hollar. It was awesome!

The 2016 Cliff Frazier Memorial was one of the best ever. Special thanks to everybody who volunteered, contributed, and made this event the best it could be. This event is easily one of the highlights for my summer season of guiding. You can bet I'll be back next year sharing the knowledge and the passion of Fly Fishing.

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