Email a Friend Lower Yuba River (Between Highway 20 Bridge and Englebright Dam)


Click photos to enlarge Yuba River California, California Fly Fishing

The wild trout fishery of the Lower Yuba certainly qualifies as one of the best in the State, and clearly sets the standard for wild trout angling in the region. The Lower Yuba section in focus here is the section between Englebright Dam and the Highway 20 Bridge.

The setting is the rolling foothills above Marysville and below Grass Valley. The hills here are golden in summer, dotted by blue oaks and digger pines, the tailings from long abandoned mining activities serve as a reminder of humankindsí ability to drastically alter the physical landscape. . This water runs cold as the discharges emerge from the depths of the long and serpent-like Englebright Lake. This tail- water fishery provides well-oxygenated riffles and food sources that keep trout happy in their foothill environment. The summers here are popular times for fly anglers, and as anyone who has been there in the summer can tell you, it can get hot enough to fry an egg on the rocks. While the river can be wet-waded by those who have a high tolerance for prolonged exposure to cold water, it is best to consider breathable waders and expedition-weight Capeline underwear if you plan on being out there awhile. Neoprenes are ok during the colder months, but covering mileage in neoprenes with triple digit heat will dehydrate you quickly and furnish the ideal conditions for heat stroke.

The Lower Yuba does require some walking and wading. Wading also needs to be introduced with a caveat. The river is not as deep in many places as the Feather or American, and you can easily get lulled into thinking that wading is a piece of cake. Remember that the discharges from Englebright Dam do fluctuate, and the current is deceptive both in speed of flow and strength. Make sure to check the website for water flows, and if higher, a wading staff is always a good addition. .

While freestone streams dwindle in late summer, the Lower Yuba tail-water will often run fairly robust as agricultural demands dictate. . The first time I went to the Lower Yuba, I did not know what to expect. I parked on the Marysville side of the river on a dead end road that veers off Highway 20 just before the bridge. It was just around sunrise. Noticing a riffle just below the bridge, and some smallish pockets, I broke out an older Scott G Series with a size 14 Elk Hair Caddis pattern and made short casts from behind a rock. Little trout began smacking the fly like a torpedo by the third cast. The first set, I missed. Then I got several trout, one on about every third cast. These were some of the most beautiful wild rainbow I had ever seen. Their coloration was pronounced and the spots were unusually prominent. The first few fish were just less than 10 inches, the last one I caught before sunset was about 13 inches. .

Though some action can occur in the riffles just below the bridge, the walk upstream of about a mile puts you in to better and bigger trout territory. Do not expect to be alone, especially in early season with the Skwala Stone, March Brown, and Golden Stone hatch are on. The stretch above the bridge is catch and release, artificials with barbless hooks only. This section is closed from October 1 through November 30. The resident trout in this section are sometimes quite large (20 inchers are not unheard of), and have traits that make them unique from steelhead. Keep in mind that the DFG perception is that these are steelhead by definition, so make sure you have your steelhead report card before taking to the water. The Game Warden who works the Lower Yuba is frequently seen covering the area from a sit-atop kayak, a work detail that sure beats the heck out of sitting in a cubicle. What exact strain of rainbow the Lower Yuba trout are furnishes the subject of some debate, but the bottom line is that they are wild and can rock and roll when you latch onto one. If you are used to settling for stockers due to time constraints keeping you away from the East Walker, McCloud, or Upper Sac, et. al., this will be a pleasant surprise thatís worth the hike. .

Though dries clearly draw strikes at low light, subsurface techniques are the game here. There are many prolific hatches here, the Golden Stones being one of the more prolific. Iíve fished these waters with a 4-weight, but that gets frustrating with the arrival of afternoon winds. A nine foot five-weight or even six-weight are better choices on the Lower Yuba. Double taper floating line is a good choice since you will be typically using a two fly rigging with split shot and strike indicator. For indicators, the choices are many, but I like to use Hartís River Detective, perhaps Loon Biostrike putty being a second choice. Later in the season, caddis hatches in the afternoon and evening become a highlight. Try some hoppers, too. Some of the many flies that produce on the Lower Yuba include: Prince Nymph #16, LaFontaine Deep Sparkle Pupa in green #16-18, assorted stonefly patterns, Mercer's Epoxyback Stone, rubber leg stone being a favorite (earlier in season to mid summer), Black AP #16, Mercer Z-Wing Caddis #14-16, Birdís Nest #14-16. In the fall, try dry fly action with yellow and orange Stimulators #10-12. .

There are many highly knowledgeable guides who know all the honey spots on the Lower Yuba. You can greatly accelerate the learning curve by hiring a guide, or at least fishing with someone who knows the water. There is no charge to park at the river accesses, though be mindful of the fact that valuables in plain sight have provided the temptation for break-ins. This does not happen that often, but more than a little is more than enough, so just use your common sense and everything should be OK. Both Marysville and Yuba City have accommodations and dining, but the rustic inns and restaurants of Grass Valley and Nevada City provide a little more vibrant nightlife (Nevada City has a theater company that puts on some great shows). Oh, and one more thing. If you go in the warmer months, for goodness sakes bring plenty of fluids and sunscreen. For latest stream information, check www.americanflyfishing.com, or call at (916) 483-1222.

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