California Fly Fishing

Yuba "Newba" Update


The Yuba seemed to be everyone’s favorite valley trout stream.  With the devastation of the flood this past spring it has been somewhat forgotten.  The word on the street has really put a bad taste in the mouth for anglers.

Reports have told the story that the fishery is ruined.


I have a different opinion for what the you may have heard.  Rather I have a different outlook on it.  First of all, let’s be thankful there are still fish in the river.  We are fortunate that somehow the resilient fish found a way to make it through armageddon.  Second, the bug life is back.  The floods may have washed a bunch of the food down to the delta.  Life found a way to return to the upper trout waters.  This fall we saw a mix of good caddis hatches, mayflies, and plenty of midges.  The good news is that the fish have something to eat.


The next rumor out there is that all the fish are small.  For a while that has definitely been the case.  It was unusual, we have been finding good numbers of fish.  No one can complain about the numbers and the action.  However, the sizable 16” average turned to about 10”.  Lately, we have been seeing and hearing about some bigger fish being caught.  Still the average size fish is a bit smaller but signs of life has proven there are still some better fish in there.  


The real saving grace to the fishing has been the dry fly action.  The bwos have been out in big numbers and the fish are responding to them.  I went out for about two hours yesterday and saw fish chowing on the surface.  In total I raised 6 fish to a Film Critic.  When the hatch petered out I nymphed through a run and hooked two.  I missed the first, but hooked the second.  The second was an 18” fish that I lost at my feet.  


This is a good time to get out and work on your dry fly game.  A soft 4wt like a Scott G2 is such a beautiful way to spend a day dry fly fishing.  I spent so much time on rivers with limited dry fly action that when I get a chance I get giddy.  Think about it, when you test or buy a new rod from a shop you think about it in terms of how it will cast a dry fly.  You test it with false casts.  Rarely do you pick out a rod and imagine how well it will throw a bobber.  



To conclude my report.  I think we should be thankful we still have fish to catch.  I think the Yuba is a great option right now.  I’ll be pushing trips that way and personally fishing there myself.



If your planning a trip up to the Yuba over the next few months leave the boat at home.  Sycamore Ranch will be closed for maintenance.  This includes access for walk and wade anglers. 

Recaping Summer and Looking Ahead

In one word to describe my summer...NUTS.  I do not think I could have done anymore guide trips and classes.  Throw in a wedding, mini honey moon and random camping trips I haven't had much time to update the blog.  I gave myself a much needed day off today to get back to normal.  

So how was the fishing?  I would sum it up with average.  I spent almost everyday in the Truckee area.  The "Big T" fished well early on and became tough after the 4th of July.  The water predictions were way off.  The river dropped tremendously and the weather got hot.  We had some good days and bad days.  Most mornings were good and evening fishing was inconsistent.  Afternoons were a bust.  

I met a bunch of really good anglers from all over the country this year.  Summer time we get a lot of new anglers or part time anglers.  I enjoyed teaching and getting anglers up to speed on ability this summer.  Watching a newbie or kid land their first fish is entertaining to say the least.  

As of late, the weather has cooled off, especially over night.  The river has cooled down a bit and fishing for a full day is getting a lot better.  Look for this trend to continue to get better, unless we get a warm spell.  Put it this way, if fishing requires a sweatshirt or light jacket at any point of the day things are going to be pretty good.

We are on the brink of fall.  The leaves are about to change color.  Fall is a great time to fish for several reasons.  The first is fishing pressure.  Anglers spread out more during autumn.  The Trinity will start fishing, the lower sac and yuba egg bite takes off, Putah Creek flows drop, the Feather will fill up with steelhead, and the Truckee streamer fishing will get insane.  With many options for fishing anglers will spread out.

Let's talk Yuba or "Newba".  Big changes to the river from the floods last spring will peak your interest.  Fishing runs that you used know by heart that have now rerouted different paths is like learning a whole new river.  I have heard rumors that the flows will be down to 1000 by the end of August.  With the changes to the river I would expect to see a good run of salmon this year.  From the reports I have been hearing lately there are a lot of small fish thriving right now.  The bigger fish have been hard to find.  This is either a result in the big flows all summer making them harder to find.  It also could mean that the floods harmed those fish.  We really wont know until the egg bite.

The Feather was another river with major changes.  If you have been living under a rock you may not have known about the Oroville Dam Spillway malfunction.  When the spillway failed a giant torrent of water came screaming down the Feather.  This has made a huge impact on the river bed.  From what I have seen there is a lot less water to fish in the low flow sections.  Especially for walk and wade anglers.  It may be even more important to be in a drift boat now on the Feather.  However, I was impressed with the amount of fish that were in the river all summer.  Not a lot of big fish but lots of numbers of 14-16" scrappy fish.  The big fish will be here soon.

Putah Creek.  Not a lot of new things to consider here.  The biggy is that the flows have already dropped.  I've heard fishing has been really good as of late.  Generally the fishing gets really good after labor day.  When the flows are between 100-400 it is game on for being able to fish the creek entirely.  

Truckee.  I am most excited about fishing the Truckee this fall.  It has been years since we have had enough water in the river come fall due to the drought.  Typically fall fishing is awesome out there.  The water temps are perfect for fishing all day.  The fish are getting desperate for some protein before the cold winter.  They need to pack on some extra pounds.  I absolutely love streamer fishing out there during this time.  Another thing to look for is a good October Caddis hatch.  From the bug samples we have been doing all summer have shown and great number of them. 

Top 10 Reasons To Hire A Guide This Summer

If the hot weather this week hasn't clued you in, summer is here.  Finally, after the winter that seemed like it would never end we have the chance to get out and fish.  Here are the top 10 reason to go guided this summer.

10.  Expand your knowledge locally.  Guides are experts on their local water sheds.  They know the ins and outs of everything in the area from where the best local lunch spot is to where to go when the river drops significantly over night.  There really is no comparison for having local home grown advice. 

9.  Fix your bad habits.  Every self taught angler has developed really bad mechanics that need attention.  Sure you may fish a bit and catch fish but fixing your mechanics will only lead to better results.  A good guide can identify flaws in mechanics in an instant and offer different suggestions for fixing them.

8.  Increase your skill set.  It doesn't matter if you have been fishing your entire life or it's your first day, you will always be learning in this sport.  A seasoned full time guide never stops teaching. It is the only thing we can guarantee and control during a trip.  I always guarantee an angler will learn more in a day with me then a year on their own. 

7.  Catch fish.  Hopefully we nail them.  It is really a game of going.  Don't wait for perfect conditions.  By the time things get perfect, you've missed it.  If you want good fishing, you need to go fishing.  We never guarantee how many fish a client is going to catch.  We can't even guarantee that they will catch a fish at all.  We can guarantee that you will leave being a better angler.  Which in the long run will lead to more fish.

6.  More time fishing.  Count how many times you tangle in a day and think about how much time it takes to re-rig.  Most anglers are going to have around 5 tangles in a day that range from simple to severe.  If you add up the time it takes to get going again you are wasting a lot of time with your flies out of the water.  A guide can get you going much faster.  Fish eat flies in the water not out of it.

5.  Test gear.  With the pro pricing guides get we usually have the latest and greatest.  This is an easy way to try out some new stuff without committing to the purchase.  Whether it is a new rod or line, ask your guide what he/she uses and why.  

4.  Thinking outside of the box.  This is anything but a normal year we are having.  The snow pack pushing 200% has made for interesting conditions.  To get good fishing in this year is going to take some extra thinking.  If your normal river fishes at 700 during the summer and is now at 5000 what should you do?  When you finally figure it out, we are already doing it.  

3.  We need it.  This year was an extreme example with how volatile conditions can be.  Most guides didn't work for 3 months while the rivers were flooding.  We are just getting caught up with all the rescheduled trips and lost income.

2.  You can bring a buddy.  Guide rates are based on two anglers.  Maybe you have a friend or family member that you want to get into the sport.  We are the link to dialing them into the skills to catching fish.  Trust me when I say they will listen to us much better then they will listen to you.  Leave the teaching to professionals.

1.  We are fun.  We love fishing, so much so we made a career out of it.  To keep our sanity we have to keep the days fun.  Some guides have some amazing jokes.  We want the day to be memorable, relaxed, and fun.  Did you hear the one about the skunk?

2017 Tahoe Guide School "UPDATE"

Truckee Tahoe Guide School

2017 Tahoe Guide School is nearly sold out.  We currently have two open spots.  This is an opportunity for aspiring guides to get a leg up in a guide career.  This years team comes with some real heavy hitters.  Myself and Matt Heron will be back as instructors.  Adding to the team in more defined roles are Jay Schwartley and Chuck Ragan.  Both helped out last year but will have bigger roles this year.  We have taken over a wheel run machine from the previous instructors and are starting to put our flavor on it.  

First and foremost, I am a product of a guide school.  Honestly, I wouldn’t be here today had I not gone that route.  The tools and information I received helped edge me into the guide I am today.  A guide school gives you the opportunity to fast forward as ahead of the competition.  

We teach this class as if the student wants to be a career fly fishing guide.  This is not a learn how to fly fish course.  If you are seriously considering signing up for the course you are expected come with intermediate to advanced skills.  We expect the students to take this very serious and to be professional.  

The skills you will walk away with will be the invaluable ones that will make a or break a career guide.  We are not going to sugar coat anything.  At this school you will learn how to run a business.  A few key focuses are marketing, taxes, permits, and licenses.  The others will be how to teach someone to fly fish and how to conduct yourself on the water.  How to read your clients and make adjustments based on their personalities and skill sets.  Put it this way, a new guide signing up for this guide school will have the honest picture of what it takes to be a guide.  They will have more to offer and a bigger piece to their resume than a new guide who has not taken a guide school.

Dates May 1-6

Price: $1600

Availability: 2 Spots Open

Package: 6 Day Course, Plus 2 Shadow Days

Tahoe Guide School 2017

Guide School 2017 dates announced!

Matt Heron teaching future guides how to be future guides. 

Matt Heron teaching future guides how to be future guides. 

2017 Guide School is a go.  Dates are May 1-6 plus add two additional guide shadow days.  This school will fast forward into a career as a guide.  We are brutally honest about what it takes to be a full time guide.  This is not a fly fishing class.  This is for serious anglers who want to turn their passion into a career. 

By Rick McGuire

We are extremely excited to have set the dates for our 6th annual Guide School.  School this year will be May 1st to May 6th.  You then add 2 shadow days with any of our instructors or Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters guides to complete your 8 day experience.  The price this year is $1600.  We are excited to have back Matt Heron, Jordan Romney, Jay Swartley, and Chuck Ragan as our instructors.  You cannot match a line up like this in any fly fishing guide school in the country.  Water will certainly not be an issue this year as all of you know we are experiencing a historic winter this year.  Healthy for our fisheries and the people who fish them.  We have had a tremendous amount of interest this year so if you are considering joining us this year call Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters and put down a deposit to hold down your spot.  If you have any questions about the school or just want to talk fishing feel free to give me a call.  Stay tuned for additional posts as the dates approach.

Rick McGuire-  Guide School Director, Instructor TFFO,, 530-318-5694


Last year’s crew, final day on the American.  End of a great week with a fantastic group of guys!

Drift Boat Rowing Day on the Lower American.

Drift Boat Rowing Day on the Lower American.

A Reason to Swing

It appears we are having a legit winter again.  I am sure you all have been following the heavy storms smacking north state sending us tremendous amounts of water.  Our rivers are swollen, muddy, and unfishable for the moment. Give mother a nature a chance to catch her breath and calm down a bit.  The rivers may be fishable in a few weeks.  When they drop and clear you’ll be dying to get back out there and when you do, I hope it is with a two-handed rod.  

The two-handed game has blown up in Northern California and I could not be happier about it.  We all know how heavily the indicator is fished in our state, and we all know how productive it can be, but now  is the time to give a chance to a new tactic, (actually a far older tactic than an indicator).

Stop staring at the bobber!  Ask any trout or steelhead guide worth a damn how much they enjoy staring at an indicator.  Their response, I am sure, will not surprise you.  I spend so much time staring at floats, that any opportunity I get to fish a different tactic I jump on it.  Fishing the indicator is a very involved method.  It requires constant concentration and frequent adjustments.  It becomes more of a chore than an enjoyment.  Swinging flies simplifies the method.  You cast (and that is the essence of fly fishing)  maybe add a mend, stick one hand in your pocket and watch the line flutter across the run.  You end up looking around more at the setting you're in, you become more connected to the art of fly fishing rather than just the production value.  My message to anglers getting into swinging flies is that you have to be in love with the idea of fly fishing to get the enjoyment the technique.  

My favorite part of swinging flies is the not knowing where or when the grab is going to come.  Anglers who are experienced in swinging flies identify with good swing runs just because they swing well rather than their catch totals.  I like to swing certain runs just because of the shape of water.  Sure, there may be areas that have higher concentration of fish but if it doesn’t swing well I am not that interested in fishing it.  I guarantee you will start to look at river in much different way.   

The myth that spey casting is hard if completely false: Spey casting is not hard, it is hard to be an expert at it.  Realistically a beginner angler has a better chance getting grabbed swinging a fly then the getting a fish under an indicator on some of our technical streams.  With the advances in fly lines designs a roll cast at 50 ft. is very obtainable.  Casting at the right angle and swinging through a run confidently is an easier task than roll casting a big thing-a-ma-bobber with split shot and two flies mended 5 times to get a perfect dead drift.  Easier that is if you can make the cast in the first place.    

The numbers is an interesting topic when it comes to fly fishing.  Take the Trinity for an example.  An accomplished guide friend of mine up on the Trinity said on average each angler is going to get 3 attempts on steelhead out of the drift boat fishing an indicator.  That's still a pretty low number.  I would say that if you swing a fly on the Trinity you will average at least 1 good grab a day.  I’ll take 1 good swinging grab versus three take downs nymphing on any stream.  I have never qualified a good day of fishing based on how many fish were caught but how many were caught artfully.  If for you fly fishing is a numbers game then the swinging art may not be for you.  Hell, maybe this sport isn’t for you either.   

You will remember every fish that you connect with on the swing.  This perfect Trinity River steelhead chased down a "Brother In Law."

You will remember every fish that you connect with on the swing.  This perfect Trinity River steelhead chased down a "Brother In Law."

The Yuba and Feather are great Valley rivers to swing.  You just have to know what to look for in a swing run.  The Yuba River rainbows are a lot more agressive than you may think.  Ask guide Chuck Ragan, who absolutely loves the streamer fishing out there.  Sure those fish eat aquatic insects but there is a ton of bait in that river.  With the size of the salmon runs out there, and the amount of eggs that eventually hatch, those fish look for the fry.  January through March, swinging an alevin pattern gets grabbed often.  There are a lot of sculpins and little leeches out there too.  I’ve had good results swinging flesh flies, it's a no brainer that with all the dead salmon out there that the fish will eat flesh floating down the river.  A swung soft hackle will get eaten too.  When the bugs start working the fish will chase down emergers in the middle to top water column, giving you an excellent opportunity to hook an eater.

Morgan Thalken ties mean flies for swinging.  A mixed box of sizes and colors.  Potential options for trout or steelhead. 

Morgan Thalken ties mean flies for swinging.  A mixed box of sizes and colors.  Potential options for trout or steelhead. 

The tools you’ll need are very simple: rod, reel, shooting head, tips, tippet, and some flies.  For the single hand rods, Rio’s Single Hand Spey line solves all issues.  This is a beautifully constructed line that I wish more anglers were using.  It is very easy to cast, and is a great distance line.  Swinging on a single hand rod will improve your line control.  The-two hander is a different ball game.  It can improve your distances and with the right line give you options on size and weight of a fly to try.  At the fly shop, see customers in a state of confusion over all the options for swinging.  It really is a lot of info to juggle, the best way to figuring it out what is the right gear for you is to talk with someone at the shop and tell them what you are looking to do, what rivers you want to swing, and what species you’re targeting.  The new wave of Trout Spey has offered a really nice tool for trout lovers.

Email us if you are interested in our swinging flies class this spring.

Well It's About Time

Well, after years of avoiding it I finally caved and made a website.  This will be a good way for you to keep better track of what we have been up to.  We have water again in California and a bit too much at once.   The fishing as of lately has been non existent.  While things may be on a hold for a bit there are still several things you can be doing to help increase your success in 2017.  Who knows how long the rain will continue.  The fish will be thankful come August.

One of the things you can work on is your geography of California.  Google Earth can be a great tool while scoping topographies.  Study main stems of the rivers and feeder creeks that surround it.  Make a list of places you will check out this year.  You may need to put in a lot of miles on your vehicles this year and actually use your 4 wheel drive.  There is so much good water that is untouched in California.  You just need to have a bit of a wild side to you to attain it.  That's where we can help. 

There are many things to look forward to this year.  One of the big ones is our overnight camp out trips.  Stay tuned for more information on this.  New float trips, new species, and new techniques.  With the raft we now have the ability to drop in to some places that were impossible before.  If you are a minimalist we may even have an overnight trip for you.  Smallmouth fishing on the fly can be a real kick.  They attack, pull hard, and eat top water.  We are still wondering what took us so long to start guiding for them.  We will continuously keep you up in the loop with new info to help increase your enjoyment on water. 

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