LOWER YUBA RIVER
Lower Yuba River
Updated - 4/6/20
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Current River Conditions: 990 CFS.
(click on the link below to get real time flows)
Fishing - Excellent: Tom Page, owner of the Reel Angler Fly Shop in Grass Valley reports that fishing is about as good as it gets. We fished it on Saturday in a rainstorm but not many bugs hatching. There were however more Squala's crawling around than I would expect for so late in the year. On the water we observed a few Caddis popping but no PMDs. No March Browns or BWOs either. We got a couple of fish indicator nymphing but that was all. If fishing on top you will do best with low sitting cripple patterns. Staffer Mark Merrill floated the river last week during a rain storm with guide Perry Simms and they did very well with a two fly rig consisting of a March Brown parachute (any dark hued size #12 parachute will do) with a floating cripple pattern size #16 or #18 to imitate the PMDs and other small mayflies that are hatching. Swinging soft hackles through rises can be productive.
The Yuba is a river that will test your skills, but with the right fly and great presentation you can have a great time. If you go (and we recommend that you do) make sure you have PMD parachutes (pink and pale yellow), Cripples, Soft Hackles (a size #18 Pheasant Tail soft hackle will do) and Size #12 , size #12 Quigley style Cripples and Soft Hackles Click here to go to our Fly Catalog
We have guides who are on the lower Yuba every day no matter what the season. Give the shop a call (800)410-1222 or click here and we will set you up.
Recommended General All Around Patterns for the Lower Yuba
Click here to go to our Fly Catalog
Bead Head Pheasant Tail #12, #14 & #16, Hot Bead San Juan, Copper John/red or copper #14, #16, Bead Head Prince Nymph (various sizes), Wooly Bugger/rusty, black, Glow Bug/red. tungsten bead Zebra Midge/black, brown, red, Fox's Poopah #14 & #16. Scud/pink #14. Z Wing Caddis #14, March Brown Soft Hackle, Vinci's "Depth Charge Bird's Nest/olive, natural or black.
Adams Parachute #14 & #16, Elk Hair Caddis #14 & #16, Stimulator #8, Fat Albert/tan #10, Hippy Stomper #10, Kiene's Hopper Yellow #10.
About the Lower Yuba River
The lower Yuba is home to three fish species that are important to the fly fisherman. First of all it is mostly famous for its resident Coastal Rainbow Trout who possess an impressive fighting ability. The trout don’t get really get big but there are large numbers in the plus or minus 15” range. The fight of a 15” fish in the Yuba is equal to that of a 20” fish on any other river.
The second most important fish from a fly fisherman’s perspective on the lower Yuba is the American Shad, that is indigenous to the east coast of the US, but was introduced on the Yuba early in the 20th century. The Shad are only found below the Daguerre diversion dam, which is somewhat downstream from the popular trout section, as they are not able to climb the fish ladder. You will also find Stripers below Daguerre Dam. There is a great Chinook Salmon run, but it is not generally targeted by fly fishermen.
Chinook Salmon and Steelhead enter the lower Yuba in the early fall. Chinook are there to spawn in the gravel just downstream from Englebright Dam. The Steelhead (up to 8 lbs) follow the Salmon to feast on their spent eggs and some hold over until spring to spawn and others go back to saltwater and come back into the system later in the year. The Yuba is most famous for its strain of local Rainbows.
Wading access is only available at a few spots, though from those spots you can reach quite a bit of good holding water. Many fishermen opt to launch a watercraft at the Hwy 20 bridge (a 4WD vehicle with a high center is need to traverse the cobblestone shoreline) and float the 4 miles to Sycamore Ranch where there is an unimproved boat launch site where you can pull out your boat. Floating is by far the best way to cover the most water on the Yuba and the river is tame enough for personal watercraft such as pontoon boats though most people float it in drift boats.
For those who will not be floating the river there is a parking area at the north end of the bridge which is where the trailhead exists for fishing the water upstream, and there is also parking and access at the south end of the bridge along Hammond Rd. which follows the south shore of the river from the bridge for about three miles downstream until turning inland.
As soon as the Red Bud begins to appear, they know that it is time to check out the lower Yuba and see if the first hatch of the year has begun. The lower Yuba’s Skawala hatch is legendary in northern California and may arguably be the most anticipated hatch in the state. These are the Yuba’s famous hatch that brings fly fishermen from afar each year. When the fish get on to these bugs fishing can get silly, for lack of a better word. The Skawala hatch can last from February all the way until early April depending on the air and water temperature.
In March and April the March Browns begin to show Blue Wing Olives are active all through the spring. As we get into May the Caddis get active and so do the Pale Morning Duns and other mayflies. June brings Golden Stones and Little Yellow Sallies.