Thursday, December 3, 2015

Getting Into The Winter Swing

Winter Yuba Trout

The early winter weather is starting to settle in with near freezing nights and cold days. This time of the year is often a tough time to fish. Low water temperatures slow down a fish's metabolism making them less likely to move to take a fly. Finding the correct depth and presentation is key to hooking up. The flip slide of pursuing not so active fish is that there is a better chance of hooking into something big.

The holy valley waters of the Feather, Yuba, and American are some of the best places to catch fish during the winter months. Big winter steelhead will start migrating up to their spawning grounds with plenty of natives around to keep the fishing from getting too slow.

The Feather's Winter Look

This year was by far one of the worst years I've had finishing for steelhead. The egg bite was pretty lame with the lack of salmon. Bugs have saved my day.
I was on the Feather earlier this week both the low and high flow and holy cow was it crowded. There were at least two anglers in every riffle and both driftboats and DFG boats were running up and down the river throughout the day. With the lack of steelhead in the system and heavy fishing pressure, my outing became quite a drag. I was swinging big winter flies in hopes of a big bite but I never got it.

I've given up on swinging big winter flies for steelies in the valley. My guess is that swinging big winter flies is more realistic on systems that are closer to the coast where fish are more fresh and aggressive. With the exception of the American River's Eel River strain steelhead, these valley steelhead are a long ways away from their salt water homes making them more trouty than steelie. Bugs seem to work the best. However I am looking forward to swinging some alevins in a few weeks on the Feather.


Yuba River
The Lower Yuba above HWY 20 bridge opened on December 1st and many have begun to try their luck there. From local reports and online reports it sounds like a lot of fish are being caught. This was where all the cool people were fishing.

The Yuba's Winter Look

When I was out on the Yuba yesterday the fishing was a bit slow in the morning but then again I was swinging an olive streamer. Once I switched to nymphs I had a lot more success. I hooked a bunch of fish but only landed a few throughout the day. The fishing really began to pick up about an hour before sunset which is pretty funny considering that everyone had already left. It was fish on nearly every other cast.

Fish Of The Day

Reports say quantity over quality. Although smaller fish, these fish were pretty feisty; you'd think they were half-pounders by the way they fought. A little bit of everything was working; eggs and nymphs (rubberlegs and S&Ms) either drifted or swung. The swing was my favorite.
I even caught one on a BWO dry in the quieter sections.

Lots Of Feisty Little Guys

Honestly it's just nice to have more runs and riffles to spread out on. The river below the bridge was just getting hammered since the upper section was closed.

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