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Monday, August 31, 2020

North Fork Yuba River Fall Tactics & Fishing Report ~ 8/31/2020

Well, one more blog post on the North Fork Yuba River before hitting the road and the long drive to Colorado. I’m looking forward to hosting some guests of mine and getting in some much needed fishing time of my own. It’s going to be awesome! First off, a quick fishing report for the NFYR. Fishing remains the same – good! Water temps have come down a few degrees and are 57 in the morning rising to 62 in the late afternoons for the upper watershed. Fishing pressure remains light as well, but as most often is the case, the further one hikes away from the more popular access areas, the better the fishing is. 

Caddis and terrestrials are on the menu for the trout, but just around the corner is the BWO spinner fall that occurs in the mid-morning, or when air temperatures are between 57 to 67 degrees. An egg laying female pattern used as a dropper fly underneath, or a flat wing spent spinner in the film will fool all in a size 18. 

When I get back from my trip I will be focusing my guiding on the Middle Fork Feather River, Lake Davis, Frenchman Lake, and a few trips in the Truckee area until the snow flies (hoping sooner than later). With that being said, I won’t be on the NFYR at all (just the way my trips were booked this year), so I’d thought I would share some tips on approaching the river as we head into fall…

  •        As the days become shorter, it’s not that important to get on the water early. You can start fishing at 10am on to the twilight caddis grab the last couple of hours of light. Deeper into fall, an angler can start at around noontime and fish until 5pm or so. It seems these trout actually like sun on the water, so choosing your spot in the canyon (especially in the deeper sections) where there is more ample sunshine can be a difference maker. This coincides with…

  •     Water temperatures will dictate all. Late autumn conditions have colder air and water temps, so it is important to fish during the warmest time of the day. For example I had a trip a few years ago where my guest insisted we start at 8am. I told him in all honesty that we would be lucky to get a grab until the water temps came up around 52 degrees. When we got on the river to fish, the temperature of the water was 49 degrees. We fished a solid 3 hours and only one missed take occurred. Right around noon, I recorded a water temperature of 53 degrees, and the light switch was turned on. There were also warmer air temps as well, and now we had adult aquatics flying in the breeze and on the water’s surface with rising fish. Needless to say, the fishing was great for the next four hours.

  •     Concentrate your efforts from just upstream of Downieville down to the last bridge on Hwy 49 as your heading to Nevada City. Bigger water, a better October Caddis hatch, and more available sunshine are key points here.

  •     Tight line the deeper holes, slots, and transition zones of areas that feature shallow to deeper water like at the head of a major plunge pool.

  •     Match the hatch, but also try presenting some attractors like an orange Stimi.

  •     Bring a good camera. The NFYR canyon is spectacular in fall with blazing colors – it’s quite the show!

  •     A limited amount of larger brown trout will migrate up from Bullards Bar reservoir for the spawn. It takes a lot of prospecting to find them, but there will be a few lurking about. 

There you have it, just a few tips to help you out. Make sure to check my blog in the upcoming weeks for all the action in Colorado, and the early trips of the above featured waters I will be prowling around on. Let’s hope our fire activity is minimal and a huge thank you to all fire fighters and personnel that protect us, our homes, and the great outdoors we love to live in. Having been evacuated due to the Jones Fire, I'm so grateful for still having a home. See you on the water…

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Fall 2020 Prognosis for the Northern Sierra ~ Lake Davis ~ Middle Fork Feather River ~ Frenchman Lake

Lake Davis –

As the days get shorter, look for the lake to cool down considerably in the next month. The last brood of Callibaetis mayflies and blood midges will dominate the hatches creeping into fall. Callibaetis will be a size 16, and the blood midges a size 14. Adams Parachute or a Quigley’s cripple for the mayflies, and Jonny’s Blood Midge emerger, or the Martis Midge for the latter. Indicator presentations, slow stripping natural imitations, and dry fly opportunities are all viable options. Once the water temps dip below 53, both of these hatches will wane. The rainbows and browns will start to prowl the shallows and fertile shoals in search of food once the water temps come down into the lower 60’s, and when the water temps come down even further, the trout will spend all day in these areas for both food and comfortable water temperatures. Keep in mind that when the water temps are in the 50’s that most of the trout will be in the upper water column no matter the depth. 


October is the best month here. As the arc of the sun dips lower on the horizon the trout will go on the fall grab with reckless abandon. Bigger flies like buggers and leeches, bigger tippet size in 3X, and stripping are the name of the game. Make sure to try both slow and fast retrieves until you figure out what they want. The trout tend to pod up in big numbers during fall, so if you get into some action, stay put and hammer them! If the action dies off they will often trickle down the shoreline or into another cove – They don’t go far. Once skim ice starts to form in the smaller bays, and the shoreline, most trout will move down to the southern end of the lake. Orange and pink can be great late fall colors. Don’t be surprised if you hook into a few bass while fishing for trout throughout the fall months as they will often eat the same flies. 


Frenchman Lake –

Same as above for Lake Davis, minus the bass. What differs here is the opportunity to strip minnows in the shallows for aggressive eaters. Lahontan Redside minnows will be balled up and running in schools in the Northern part of the lake. A good tactic is to blind cast parallel to the shoreline and retrieve quickly, or the best case scenario, sight fishing to minnow eaters and leading them. I’ve always done well here using the simple Jay Fair Tui Chub trolling fly. The drive up through Little Last Chance Creek canyon up to the lake with fall colors blazing is one of the high lights here.

Middle Fork Feather River –

Already the water temperatures have come down due to smokey skies. Another observation this summer has been that the rock snot (algae) was not as significant as years prior. Look for the BWO hatches to come on as we creep into September with good spinner falls in the mid-morning when air temperatures are between 57 and 67 degrees. Also there will be a few Isonychia mayflies crawling out and hatching so make sure to have some nymph patterns in your box. With low water conditions, fish the deeper pools, runs, and slots as the trout will be ganged up there. Later into fall the October caddis will be out (look for an upcoming article in California Fly Fisher that I wrote explaining everything you need to know about the Big Bug of Autumn) which is a great game to play. The warmest time of the day will be your best bet for dry fly opportunities with mayflies, caddis, and midge. Keep your head on a swivel and look for surface feeders, and if you see some, go right after them and waste no time in doing so. If we get some early storms that add some fresh sweet water, bigger trout will migrate back upstream from the deep canyons to over winter in the upper watershed.

This is just a sampler of what conditions will be like in the Northern Sierra, I’m pretty much booked up, but please contact me and get on the cancellation list – with Covid conditions, you never know who is going to bail on their trip…See you on the water!


Sunday, August 16, 2020

North Fork Yuba River Fly Fishing Report ~ 8/16/2020


The dog days of summer…It’s been hot but at least it cools off in the mountains at night. Now we have fires to contend with. A big one near Loyalton, and another big one in Colorado that will affect my hosted trips come the beginning of September. There are so many aspects of our lives right now that are so far out of whack, and really not normal due to our current world wide situation, that is unless your wet wading in the cold bubbly water throwing dry flies to eager small wild trout. My trips on the North Fork Yuba River and the creeks have been the saving grace for my guests during the pandemic. To totally escape into a remote wilderness and not see another angler while taking in the sights of an amazing watershed and the therapeutic sounds of gurgling water is priceless to them. They get it, and love every minute of it, as I do.

Fishing has been really good despite the fact the river is low, which really doesn’t make a difference on the NFYR due to the big plunge pools, slots, and pockets that have a vast amount of depth and cover for the trout to feel comfortable in. Now more than ever, fishing the tiny nooks and crannies that are often overlooked by other anglers will yield some nice fish. Another angle to think about is searching for “dark water” next to boulders or long walls of granite that are in the water. The right water will look as black as sin, like a halo wrapping itself around a big chunk of polished rock. More than just shade, the trout feel really secure next to the structure. During the right conditions when your dry fly is drifting through the dark water, you can actually see a trout come up out of the darkness and grab your fly. It’s beyond cool when you get to see that. 

Another great tip is to keep moving upstream at a quick pace. When you get to a new section of water you will have your greatest chance to hook into a fair number of trout. Cover the entire area from near to far, and once you wear out your welcome, just move upstream to another fresh section. Stick and move…Stick and move.

It’s all about the springs when it’s Africa hot out. The upper watershed has the most deep subterranean springs that bring in 44 to 48 degree water. Currently the water temperatures are 58 in the morning reaching 64 in the late afternoon.  

We’re still running dry dropper rigs, or just a single elk hair caddis. Both are effective. It’s that time of year for terrestrials though, and hanging a submerged ant pattern is crushing them. The takes on the ant are so ferocious! When your Stimulator gets jerked back half a foot during the grab, you just know they slammed it. There are some hoppers out, just not as many as the last few years though. Other than a bunch of caddis, not much aquatics out except a small hatch of Little Yellow Sallies around 10am for a few hours, and the occasional mayfly.

Life is good, I’ve been as busy as I want to be as far as guide trips. I could fill every day of the year if I really wanted to, but 5 days a week is plenty. As I age, I realize that your quality of life is more important than making a dollar, so more Jonny B. time it is. I got the writing bug again, so look for upcoming articles like my next one in California Fly Fisher on the October Caddis – everything you ever wanted to know about the big bug. During Covid, I’ve had more cancelations and rescheduled trips than ever, seems like every week I’m tweaking my schedule and adjusting to my guest’s needs. That’s to be expected. At this time these are my available dates up to November: 8/26, ~ 9/28, 30 ~ 10/26, 27. Shoot me an email at baiocchistroutfitters@yahoo.com if you want aboard. Until then…See you on the water.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

United Women on the Fly Featured Fly Girl ~ Cat Toy

So proud of my best fishing buddy, Cat Toy and her recent interview with United Woman on the Fly. Cat's skills as a fly angler are amazing for only fishing for 2 years. Her life skills have prepared her for the next journey in the fly fishing world. Look for upcoming projects, articles, and more with Cat and I. You can read the interview here: Cat Toy Fly Girl of the Month

Also, look for upcoming reports from Colorado as I head out to host some trips in September, fish with Cat and friends, and return to my roots.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

North Fork Yuba River Fly Fishing Report ~ 8/4/2020

The dog days of summer. If you're into trout, you got to find the cold water whether it's a Northern Sierra creek, lake, river, or tail water. One of the coldest for this time of year is the upper watershed of the North Fork Yuba River. Numerous springs, some with a rather heavy flow, dump into the river and bring with it 44-48 degree water. Those wild rainbows like that. Fishing has been great, especially if you venture far away from access areas and put some distance from them. The farther one hikes, the better the fishing. Water temps are currently 57 in the morning rising to 64 in the afternoon. My guests and I have been lucky not to see anyone on the river (and the Lost Sierra creeks) for the last 27 trips, but then again your average bear is not going to venture too far. Still seeing an exsesive amount of people vacationing on the road. Campgrounds are full, trail heads are packed, and the Mountain Bike hatch is in full swing. If you plan your trip and seek out the remote areas, you can find solitude from the masses. 

Dry /Dropper rigs still remain your best bet for the smaller waters and those eager little trout. The same patterns that I mentioned in earlier reports are still working extremely well, but even more so now, the season of the terrestrials is upon us with hoppers, ants, and beetles. Water levels have continued to drop with the trout seeking out the deeper pools, slots, and pockets. They take great comfort in these areas. Don't over look the hidden and not so obvious nooks and crannies as you work the water upstream. These areas typically have the bigger fish in the system as they are not molested by anglers. All it takes is a little depth of 2-4 feet. Skip the skinny water too. During the middle part of the day into the afternoon when the sun is up high, make your presentations against large boulders that have a wall type structure entering into the river with shade below it. I call this "dark water", and it looks like a black halo surrounding the boulder. Those trout love this type of habitat, and often when your fly is drifting against the wall, you can see them come out of the darkness to intercept your fly - It's so damn cool!

Lost Sierra Creeks

The creeks of the Lost Sierra are dropping too, some are spring fed, and some are the outflow from stillwaters in the Lakes Basin area. The spring fed watersheds are in a little better shape. Same flies and tactics apply as the North Fork Yuba River. One thing that will really help with your creekin' experience is using 0 to 3wt. rods. They make a huge difference in that you feel the fish so much more.

The coloration of the wild trout in these magnificent watersheds are unbelievable!

I'm pretty much on cruise control for the rest of the moth of August fishing and guiding the Lost Sierra. There are no dates available for the month of August. For September I have these dates open: 23, 27, 28, 30. For October, these days are available: 3, 4, 23, 26, 27, 31. If you want in on a trip, let me know asap and we'll get you on the guide calendar. Summer is flying by! Where ever you may roam, be safe, be smart, and good luck!

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