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Thursday, December 31, 2020

Lower Yuba River Fly Fishing Report ~ 12/31/20

Happy New Year! We are almost through the holidays, we’ve eaten well, and hopefully a brighter and better world looms on the horizon. I’ve been juggling many things here in the office including an all new Skwala power point (you can check my presentation schedule HERE), guiding, fishing on my own, and other fish business related items that are never ending. Fishing is decent on the Lower Yuba River, though in the last few weeks we’ve had to work a little bit harder for them with some days being better than others. 

Currently the river is running low at 758 cubes and clear. Even though we have had some weak systems push through, they have had little effect on the Yuba River rising, or even producing off colored water. We have wet weather ahead, but still too early to really tell just how much. Fishing pressure has been heavy near the easier access areas, after all it is Christmas break, and it seems there were lots of new fly rods under the tree this year. Two things will get you away from the crowds, hiking far, and fishing areas that are remote and hard to navigate.


On 12/26 I found the first Skwala adult sunning on the cobbles next to the river, so the hatch has begun! In 2019 I found my first one last year on the 12/27, so I beat that by one day. There are many nymphs active with a behavioral drift in the early mornings trying to relocate to the shallow calm side water where they can hatch. It will take the resident rainbows and steelhead a little while before they figure out what’s going on, and key in on this major food source. It’s only a matter of time.

If you haven’t read my latest article, “Skwala Primer for 2021 ~ Lessons Learned” in the December issue of California Fly Fisher, now would be a good time to do so. There is a ton of good usable info in the article. Check it out. 

Other food items in the mix right now are a sparse BWO hatch in the afternoons. They are small too, size 18-20. I’ve heard of some good PMD hatches upstream of the bridge near the UC Davis property too, though really inconsistent. Alevins and salmon fry are now present in the system and the fish are starting to key in on this major food source as well. Last Monday while fishing solo, I was Tight Lining an alevin jig and hooked into a beast with wakes coming off the surface as it headed for Marysville, it was gone in a matter of seconds. Not much you can do with an animal like that and 5x. Still, it was really cool to experience.

So while there are some dry fly opportunities right now with sparse hatches, we’ll see increasingly better trout behavior when there are more Skwalas and mayflies in the foam lines. Nymphing for now remains to be the best. The one tip I can give is to move often and cover water. Standing in the same place for an hour or more just limits you. Another key is to nymph the transition zones of shallow riffles into deeper water. Long line Euro nymphing, indo nymphing, and swinging are all good choices right now for sub surface. Pick your style and get after it!

Really looking forward to 2021, I have many workshops that will happen, hosted trips, regular guide trips (get on the calendar now for Skwala trips, dates are going fast!), a few more articles coming out, zoom presentations, and more time at the vice. Give me a follow on Facebook at JonBaiocchi, or Instagram @baiocchistroutfitters. As always, shoot me an email if you have any questions, need info, or if you want to book a trip at baiocchistroutfitters@yahoo.com

See you on the water…

Epeorus ~ Pink Albert clinger mayfly nymph 

Friday, December 18, 2020

Lower Yuba River Fly Fishing Report ~ Truckee WildStream Session ~ Christmas Gift Certificates ~ 12/19/2020


Brandon Hardy with a 23" lost Feather River fish 

It was nice to see a little weather push through last Wednesday into Thursday. I had a few hours of good rainfall here at the house in Nevada City, still a pretty wimpy series of weak systems though. The Lower Yuba barely came up in flows during it all. Yuba Water Agency did drop the flows down from my last report which is currently running at 839 cubes. Deer creek went from a whopping 6 cfs to 18 cubes during the storm. The ground is still pretty dry and it will take some heaver storms in succession to really saturate it. When that happens, we'll see more run off. It looks like we go into another dry spell with a chance of moisture near the end of the month.

Pressure has been heavy upstream of the bridge, my guest and I counted 18 anglers on my last trip up there, a mix of Yuba Drifters club members, and the general public. Because of all that continued pressure, the trout have wised up a little. A unique observation since I’ve been guiding the river the last 2 months is the increased number of Feather River fish in the Yuba system. You can tell these fish from the wild Yuba bows and steelhead by the adipose fin being clipped off. Personally I've caught 3 Feather River fish so far this fall. From 2008 up to this fall, I’ve caught 2 Feather River fish. I have no idea why there are so many of them in the Yuba right now, except the water must taste better.

Fishing remains to be decent, some days we have to work a little harder than others. We are getting most of our fish nymphing, long line Euro style. Stones, worms, baetis nymphs, S&Ms, Military Mays, and Copper Johns. I’ve been seeing some light bwo and pmd emergences, hopefully that will increase soon. We had much better mayfly activity last December. 

I’m also starting to see more salmon fry in the side water, so swinging alevin patterns will be a good way to go here for the next few months. Skwala nymphs are starting to pre stage in the idle side water downstream of major riffles. I saw my first adult skwala on December 26th last year, so any day now. My best advice for getting more numbers of fish is to stick and move, and cover water. Unless you have a pod of fish rising in front of you, then ya stay put and figure out the riddle.

Truckee session

Last Monday I finally got out to fish with WildStream Ambassadors Jamie Jorgensen, and Shane Schuster on the Truckee river. I didn’t get to fish very long as I had some business I needed to attend to in Reno, but it was a pretty good session. #20 zebra midges were best for me, and as soon as the water temps came up a little, the fish were on the feed. Another thing, fish were stacked up in certain areas, mostly transition zones of riffles into a run/tail out. Thanks for a great time Jamie and Shane, and thanks for the custom flies too!

Looking for a great gift for your favorite fly angler? How about a Baiocchi’sTroutfitters Gift Certificate! They are good for trips, clinics, workshops, and tours – Use it any way you want! 

It’s super easy too, first, go here and print the certificate: http://www.baiocchistroutfitters.com/.../BT-Gift... Then contact me for the special authorization code. Next, pay for your trip here: http://www.baiocchistroutfitters.com/baiocchis.../ Fill out the gift certificate, and place under the tree. - You're done! 

Baiocchi's Troutfitters thanks you for all of your support for the last 24 years. Happy holidays!

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Lower Yuba River Fly Fishing Report 12/5/2020

Got rain? We sure don’t. The weather patterns for precipitation are looking really bleak. According to Bryan Allegretto of Tahoe Daily Snow we will see much of the same nice weather with a few weak systems moving through in the weeks to come, and the first real chance of a storm maybe at the end of the month. Hard to say what will happen when you forecast into the fantasy range. The Lower Yuba River has been extremely busy with anglers, and now that upstream of the bridge is open, it will hopefully spread people out a little bit. 

I’ve been fishing and guiding in the upper section and you can really tell a difference with the aggressive eating behavior of the trout not seeing anglers or flies for months. They are very receptive to your offerings right now. The flows out of Englebright dam have been stable at 930 cubes. Storm flows may dictate additional releases, but it’s going to take quite a bit of rain to do such as the ground is parched. Many runs and areas on the Lower Yuba River do not fish well with these flows. It’s easier to cross the river at the current levels now, but a good flushing to mix the pot up would do wonders. Fall colors are blazing right now too, absolutely beautiful!

Yuba Master and long time guide, Frank Rinella hit the jackpot on the opener above the bridge on December 1st. Look at that athlete! Frank is heavily involved with fisheries conservation for the Yuba River and volunteers his time on the board of Directors for Gold Country Fly Fishers and Fly Fishers International. He is a wealth of knowledge on the Yuba River, and a good dude. Photo by John Simms.

Fishing remains to be good. It helps to be the first angler in a known fish pot where they have not seen flies since the day before. Make sure to be on your game when you do such as you’ll receive takes right away. The fish downstream of the bridge have seen plenty of beads drifting by them so they are not as receptive as the fish way above the bridge. Mottled natural roe and shades of orange are still the top producers for my guests and me, along with some custom paint shop beads. Still some salmon in the system and some newer redds as well. 

Check out this blog post on the current situation of “The State of Yuba River Salmon” from my buddy Tom Cannon of California Sportsfishing Protection Alliance here: https://calsport.org/fisheriesblog/?p=3409 My dad who was one of the founders of California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, and the executive director for over two decades, saw this coming in the late 80's. He had incredible insight on the problem from studying huge volumes of historical data including hatchery programs, releases from central valley dams, and how our state and federal agencies interact with each other (if at all). He called it way back then. We are just using band aids for the problem, and it's never going to heal, it’s also now infected (hatchery fish and wild fish producing offspring). More people in the state equals more water for human consumption and less water for the fish. Still though, we should never give up on good water regimes, improving a degraded habitat, and more funds for enforcement of the current fish and game laws (poaching). Enjoy what we have left, and appreciate it. Fish as often as possible and take the time to look around at the natural beauty all of our rivers, streams, creeks, and stillwaters provide. I just don't see it getting any better. I hope I'm wrong.

Long line Euro nymphing remains to be the best way to get fish in the net for my guests and I. The river is in a transitional state right now with fish the resident trout seeing fewer eggs in the drift and more aquatic bugs. Baetis and pmd hatches are getting stronger, but they have been inconsistent with a daily rhythm, and numbers of them. Still though, I’ve seen plenty of dry fly eats in the past two weeks and a good reason to bring along a dry fly rod already rigged up and ready to go at a moment’s notice. For sub surface flies, rubber leg stones in coffee/brown #8-10, Hogan’s S&M (baetis, pmd) #14-18 and his Red Headed Stepchild #14-18, San Juan worms is flesh and red, beads, and Red Copper Johns. On top you’ll want baetis patterns in both emergers and duns #18-20, and pmds #16. Go smaller if you get a refusal. 

More than anything, a perfect drift is essential. Fly first, drag free, and in the correct feeding lane, or foam line makes a big difference. The rainbows are fat right now and extra strong with all that salmon egg protein in them. Red hot runs too. Check your knots and rigging often, you’ll want a clean and reliable system when that big athlete finally eats your fly. 

All Rounder Skwala Jiggy Rubber Legs 

If you want to really understand how to fish the Yuba on your own, including the stealth factor, rigging, flies, presentations, long line Euro nymphing, specialized dry fly techniques, and entomology, shoot me an email at baiocchistroutfitters@yahoo.com, or you can try me at 530.228.0487. I’m all in on sharing the knowledge to increase your skill set for a more productive time on the Lower Yuba River!

See you on the water...



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