I can't remember the last time it rained... maybe in April or perhaps as far back as March? Fortunately Northern California got a lot of water during the last El Nino storm in March that filed many of the local reservoirs. It's been a long hot summer but thankfully fall is starting to show its colors.
The first rainfall of autumn usually signals the opening of the fall steelhead season. Fall is infamous for the "egg hatch" that happens on rivers where salmon are present. Both resident trout and anadramous steelhead key in on these nutritious red eggs that are dislodged below the salmon and their redds.
After fishing the egg bite for several years I've simply grown out of the hype. It can get crowded with anglers camping at the most productive holes both nymphing and swinging in addition to boats drifting through them. Early bird gets the fish I suppose.
The Yuba is flowing at about 1,500 CFS right now with the 500 CFS coming from Deer Creek. The last storm really brought up the creek and added some good tint to the usually gin-clear water.
I spent a few hours nymphing below the bridge and didn't do too well until I fished the opposite side. I had one little fish take an egg but the other three ate nymphs. Exciting jumpy fights.
I started at the low-flow section looking forward to swing the Feather but upon arrival I found a ton of salmon. A lot of salmon have made their way up to the low flow section with many of them in the process of pairing up. There was no way I could swing through them without snagging them.
Not only were there a lot of salmon but also a bunch of anglers. I wasn't expecting so much company on a Tuesday. Instead of waiting for my turn to fish the run, I hiked to another run further downstream that I had all to myself for a moment. As I swung through the riffles I was expecting my first grab of the day but it never came. After switching my pattern I covered the riffle/run one more time but was left fishless.
I gave up on the low-flow section and decided to try the high flow since the outlet was still flowing high. Despite the high-flow section having better riffles and runs for swinging, I've only caught a few steelhead in this section. It's a bit of a long shot but it beats fishing around the crowds. The end of salmon season in this section also makes it much more enjoyable to fish on a fly.
|High-Flow With Some Steelhead Green|
In the first riffle I swung through I finally got my grab. Not a very big fish but a steelhead on a swung fly nevertheless. I felt pretty confident that I was going to land it but after a few seconds of tiring it down it threw the hook. That's steelhead swinging for you.
I got a few nibbles throughout the rest of day but no grabs.