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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Lower Yuba Storm - January 2017 - Photo Essay Part One

1/3 Mile Above Parks Bar Bridge - Photo #1

It's January 17th, 2017 and the recent storms have just receded and the combined flows of the Lower Yuba plus Deer Creek is about 5400 cfs. and still dropping. The flows from the previous storms came up as high as 76,200 plus Deer Creek at 9850 for a combined flow that  totaled approximately 86,050 cfs. That is a lot of water. Now that the waters have come down maybe we can see if anything has significantly changed.

There are many conversations going on among fly fishers, guides, conservation groups and the general public about how these recent storms and the resulting high flows may affect the structure and course of the river. I believe that the photos in this post may provide some clues. As a background, I have been fishing the Lower Yuba for over 30 years,been guiding it for 8 years and have been rowing a drift boat or raft on it for the last 15 years. I have been through this type of weather cycle a number of times.

This will be a longer post with lots of photos with commentary regarding the photos. I will probably do two posts to cover this topic. The photos start from a position about 1/3 of a mile above the Parks Bar Bridge and the will end at the bottom of Long Island which is about 3 miles below parks Bar Bridge.

Photo #1 - Taken about 1/3 a mile above the Parks Bar Bridge. (See Above)

The photo at the top of the post was taken from a position that was up stream of the Parks Bar Bridge along the Timbucktoo Road. It shows the view around the corner that is about 1/3 a mile above the Parks Bar Bridge. During the peak flows all of the white gravel was under water, Non of the in stream willows could be seen. Today there is a trickling flow on the left. This is at 5400 cfs. When the flows drop this will probably dry up. The same can be said about the trickling flow to the right behind the willow line. The river is now and will pretty much stay in its normal course.

Old Bridge Rock Plies - Photo #2

The photo directly above was taken from on top of the Parks Bar Bridge looking upstream. The stream is a bit wider than normal and some gravel on the left side has migrated downstream. The launch under the bridge is to the right side. The water is back where it normally is flowing around the center rock pile. We will have to wait until the waters drop to under 2000 cfs to make any final conclusions as to the nature of this run.

Launch Area Under the Parks Bar Bridge - Photo #3

The photo directly above is the launch area just above the Parks Bar Bridge. Prior to the storm there was a large gravel bar just downstream from the rock piles. Most of this gravel bar and some of the willows have been pushed downstream.

Run Directly Below Parks Bar - Photo #4

The photo directly above was taken while standing on the top of Parks Bar Bridge looking west, downstream.. This entire bar was under water pretty much bank to bank at the peak flow of the storm. There is a side channel that is flowing into the main channel from the left. My guess is that this will stop flowing when the water gets below 1500 cfs or so. The river is back in its main Channel. The willow line on the river left side is still there but pretty mangled. The rocks on river right are still there. In the longer distance on river left is where the Army Corp of Engineers placed a large number of log piles. They are all gone.

Log Stacks - Photo #5

Photo #5 was taken when the log piles were placed in the fall of 2016. There were probably 16-20 stacks on this bar. As stated above, they are now all gone.

Single Log Stack - Photo #6

Photo #6 - This is another photo of a single log pile which is typical of the multiple log stacks. they are probably in the San Francisco Bay by now.

Bar Below Parks Bar Bridge - Photo #7

Photo #7 - The sand and gravel bar in the foreground is where one bunch of approximately 16-20 log stacks were placed. In the background you can see a willow line with water running behind it. Will this be flowing when the water drops to 1000 cfs. I hope so, but I have been disappointed in years past. Time will tell. You can see the Parks Bar Bridge in the top right corner of the photo.

Run at Granite Rock Face about 1 Mile Downstream from Parks Bar Bridge Photo #8

Photo # 8 - This photo is taken looking downstream looking at the big Granite Rock on river left and then the run that is directly above the Aquarium. The Aquarium is downstream about 1/2 a mile after the river bends to the left and is not in the photo. There is a big pool on the left just downstream from the granite rock face flowing into a side channel. This is new. The main flow of the river is in its normal channel.

Run Upstream of the Aquarium - Photo #9

Photo #9 - This photo is a closer view of the distant view of Photo 8. You can see the rock pile on river right in the center of the photo. This is the normal rock pile in this run and it is back. It was completely underwater at the high flows. The water in the foreground is spilling into the riffle moving from left to right. This is different. 

New Side Channel Flowing Directly into the Aquarium - Photo #10

Photo #10 is showing the new side channel that is flowing into the top end of the Aquarium.  The water shown extending to the left of photo #9 connects to the water in this side channel. At 5500 cfs the pool is currently receding. There may be a trickle flowing when the water drops to 1500 cfs or less. It may stop flowing. We'll have to wait and see.

Stay Tuned For Part Two

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