Fly Fishing Traditions

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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Last Day above Parks Bar 08/31/11

I made it out on the lower Yuba River for the last day before the season closes for 3 months above the Parks Bar Bridge. Frank Rinella and his wife Karen joined me. It was a calm warm day with just a slight breeze. We made it out early and had the boat in the water by about 8:00. OK, 8:00 isn't really that early, but we had willing fish coming up checking out our hopper offerings in the subdued morning light before the heat and brightness really came on.

We found that as the day progressed and it got brighter and hotter, the fish were not aggressively taking the fly. It was sort of like they would dash up and say, "Boy, it's bright up here" and then dash back down. As the day progressed there were many last minute refusals and nips at the flies. We also noticed that there were many smaller fish, 6 to 8 inches or so, coming up and trying to inhale our hopper patterns. This all amounted to many missed fish. It was definitely a day where you had to have patience and let the fish take the fly, count to 1 or 2, and then set, or wait for a bigger fish.

I took a turn fishing and had a hopper floating about 4 feet off the bank as Frank was rowing, and a nice size head came out of the water on my fly. What did I do, I yanked it right out of its mouth. That's what. I had another one come up not 30 feet further and what did I do, I yanked it right out of its mouth too. I recast immediately and it came up for a second time. I counted to 2, set, and hooked it. Goes to show I can sit in my rowers seat watching my buddies quick set and laugh at them and then when I get the chance, I do the same thing. We laughed about that!

In general, we have been fishing dries instead of nymphs under indicator and the fish have been pretty cooperative for the last three weeks or so. The fish have been looking up for dries since the flows leveled off at 3,ooo cfs in July. I was in Montana when the best action on top was happening.

I did notice lots of stonefly cases at the water's edge. These had the look of ones that had hatched pretty recently. I ran into Keith Kaneko and he said he'd been having luck with rubberlegs. Think there's a connection?

An interesting thing about fishing the river for the last 10 days or so, is watching the river and what happens when the flows are being dropped about 200 cfs a day. The powers that be started the fall reduction on about August 21st. The river had been running pretty consistent at about 3,000 cfs for quite a while, from back in mid July. Before the start of the reduction of flows, the fish were comfortable in their holding areas and fishing was about as good as it gets fishing hoppers and hopper droppers. Things have been a changing.

I checked the flows this evening and by about 1:00 this afternoon it was lowered to 1000 cfs. The river has been in a process of lowering for about 10 days now. So in the last 10 days it has dropped about 2000 cfs. How has this affected the river and the fishing? I fished the river on the day they started lowering the flows and didn't notice much difference until about a week ago. Many of the areas that were holding fish were noticeably shallower and the light penetrated all the way to the bottom. I'm of the opinion that the fish have been moving around and are basically uncomfortable with the change of flows and the resulting change of their habitat and the world they live in. When they're in this mood they tend to move to their sanctuary water, sulk and hide out. That doesn't mean that they are uncatchable, they just are more wary. You have to go to stealth mode, especially as the water levels continue to drop.

The fish will adjust to this and the everyone fishing the river will need to start digging into their bag of tricks for the fall. The river will be low and clear from this point on until the storms start moving through. The salmon are now starting up the river and the fish will change their tactics as well. Eggs!

I'm looking forward to seeing the salmon in the river as it's always fun to float the river amongst them and look for steelhead and trout hanging out below them. So as the season moves forward, towards the real fall, beware of the salmon redds and the spawning areas. Keep out of the buckets and redds. In general be conscious about what you're doing and you and the fish will be fine.

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Have any Questions or Comments? Let me know, Clay.