Rainbow Fishing

Yuba "Newba" Update

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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.  

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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.

 

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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. 

The Last Frontier

This is a blog post I wrote a while back after my first season guiding in Alaska. 

Alaska Wilderness Outpost

Alaska Wilderness Outpost June/July

Alaska Wilderness Outpost June/July

Where to begin?  If you haven't seen Alaska in your life you haven't seen shit.  I have always had my eye on guiding in AK and when I saw how bad the drought was getting here it was time to make it happen.  Getting a guide job in Alaska is not the easiest and through a few connections I was put in touch with an outfit called Epic Angling and Adventure (www.epicaaa.com).  Epic is a smaller operation that truly shows guests a very different remote side of Alaska.  We offer two different camps which have two different options in terms of accommodations and fisheries. Both camps are on the Alaska Peninsula and there the adventure begins.

Chum Salmon.  Alaska's most underrated rod breaking fish.

Chum Salmon.  Alaska's most underrated rod breaking fish.

My journey started with running a jet boat 180 river miles in two days with the owner Rus Schwausch.  Luckily he was an awesome mentor and trained me well on how to run it.  The weather was crummy with low visibility in a glacial river with thousands of braids to navigate.  We finally made it to our location and spent three days just the two of us setting up the camp. We refer to this camp as the “beer and beef jerky” camp because the accommodations are very basic compared to the second camp we operate.  After we set up we spent two days fishing and getting me up to speed to the fishing and access points.  

Chinook or "King Salmon" show up in July

Chinook or "King Salmon" show up in July

In all my years of fishing I haven’t seen anything like this, the numbers of happy fish that wanting to eat your fly is unlike any fishery in my experience. The diversity was a shock too.  We used a lot of top water flies mainly mouse to tease up grayling, rainbow trout, and dolly varden.  When that wasn’t working which was rare we would switch to streamers and get the same results.  I do not like to qualify fish numbers for a good day of fishing but you do not go to Alaska to work hard for fish.  

Alaska Rainbow Release

Alaska Rainbow Release

Our guests showed up about the same time the chums entered the river and they showed up in numbers.  I really hate the poor names given to these fish.  Anyone who has fished for them knows what an awesome sport fish they are.  They are big, slam a fly, and will kick your ass on a 7 or 8 weight.  

It was shocking to see the chinook salmon show up in such large numbers.  Like a light switch from one day to another the river was empty of them and then full.  Since we were pretty far up in the river at that point the kings were showing a lot of color.  We had some really fun days sight fishing for them in clear water.  They are the color of a fire engine so they stick out like a sore thumb.  Some days were tricky though to get them to take a fly but if you were persistent you were probably going to catch a few in the 20-30lb class.  

Grayling Fishing Is Good For The Sole.  Bring A 4WT

Grayling Fishing Is Good For The Sole.  Bring A 4WT

The good thing about the camp is that it is small.  It maxes out at 5 anglers which makes for a real personally experience with the groups.  My disclaimer is that you need to be in good shape because you will be doing a lot of walking across the tundra which can be draining if you are not up for it.  

Flora and Fauna Everywhere

Flora and Fauna Everywhere

Not Bad For The Middle Of No Where

Not Bad For The Middle Of No Where

 

Alaska Wilderness Safari July-October

 

Vista From Camp

Vista From Camp

 

The “steak and lobster” camp.  In the middle of some of the toughest remote Alaskan terrain on the Pacific side of the Peninsula lies a fly fishing camp unlike any other.  This is the most beautiful place on earth where the wild life is as stunning as the scenery.  The only way in and out is by a fixed wing plane or helicopter.  Your cell phone has no use here and do not even ask about wifi. 

You Can't Have It Any Fresher Then This!

You Can't Have It Any Fresher Then This!

We start setting up camp in mid july just as the chums and pinks start making there way into our tidal estuary.  We have a much bigger staff here plus a chef that can make anything taste good.  It takes our staff of 6 12 days to set up camp.  There is much to do in getting ready for our guests.  We must build all of the structures including guest/staff tents, outhouse, shower tent, and cook/dinning tent.  In the mean time we have to set up a full stainless steel commercial grade kitchen all ran of propane and solar power.  There are pontoon boats to build, water systems to set up and a washer pit to get ready.  Plus we have to fish and learn the lay of the land.  

Dolly Fishing Can Be Lights Out

Dolly Fishing Can Be Lights Out

The fishing is very diverse here in terms of types of water to go after them.  There is a river valley all fed by a glacier where the dolly’s are as plentiful as you can want them.  We do catch a lot of salmon up here but try not to target them here.  Right in front of camp is a tidal estuary.  The estuary looks like a giant lake at high tide or a manageable river at low tide.  One of the daily challenges is to figure out your day on where to be at the right time.  When the flat is channelized the salmon fishing is as good as it gets.  Being that you are less than a quarter mile from the ocean these fish are fresh and powerful.  We have options to walk a sandy beach and fish for salmon in the ocean which was one of my favorite things to do but the winds had to be in our favor.  Another thing just to show you how diverse this place is would be the bay fishing out of the pontoon boat.  There were places to fish for rock fish on the fly or jigs and even halibut.  There are times when you could fish for halibut on the fly but I didn’t really get to do much of that.  Maybe next year.

Enough Said

Enough Said

Around mid August is when the real fun began.  The coho (silver salmon) start showing up in our estuary and if the tide was right and the you stay ahead of the seals the fishing was really good.  When the silvers showed up the structure of the week changed.  We would fish around camp for five days and the last two days of the week we would heli fish.  The helicopter would fly us out to other bays and river systems where we would chase silvers in the 8-15lb range with occasional bigger fish.  Just the flight alone in the helicopter with Sam Egli (Egli Air Haul) is worth the experience.  

I cannot rave the experience of this camp enough.  You get to see the real deal of Alaska.  There is many things  to do here other than fishing too.  We feel that if you do not take a least a half day to hike you are really not getting the whole experience.  There are waterfalls to check out, tide pools to explore, and vistas with unforgettable views to hike.  The wildlife is abundant with coastal brown bears eating fish right in front of your eyes.  We see numerous bald eagles, seals, ravens, and foxes.  This year was light for some of the other animals but we did see some caribou, moose, and wolves.  

The bears are plentiful.  This is an area in Alaska where you will see several in a day if not in the double digits.  We are the only human contact these bears have so they act like the wild animals they are and are far less interested in what we are doing then some of the other more traveled areas in Alaska.  That being said, all of the guides get a lot of training around the bears and know how to conduct themselves in bear country.

The views from camp are unbelievable.  The food is fantastic, our chef cooks very hardy angler style meals.  We eat a ton of fresh fish and get fresh shipments of produce and other goods weekly.  If you want any other info on the camp.  Shoot me an email driftonthefly@gmail.com